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Letter to the Editor: Solutions to Problems Between Cottage Hospital, Community

Madam mayor and City Council members,

My previous letter to the City Council was a list of complaints that many of us are having with Cottage Hospital. This letter is a list of solutions.

These are ideas that may need modifications to make them viable. We do not expect to have everything our way — hopefully Cottage Hospital does not expect to have everything their way.

» 1. Written guidelines — All guidelines in writing so we have assurance our lives are not at the whim of future hospital executives. There should be a mechanism to override in special emergencies.

» 2. Ombudsman — Full-time person who can be contacted by neighbors to solve problems with the hospital. This person must have the power, clout and access to the decision-makers to facilitate the solving of any issue.

» 3. Regional advisory board — A group of citizens who will work with Cottage so it better serves the broader community. This board should include members from specific communities, such as seniors, Mexican, black, etc., who are chosen by each community.

» 4. Impacted area advisory group — Specific to those living within two blocks of Cottage and are specifically impacted by its operations. Chosen by the neighborhood.

» 5. Board members — Three local residents on the hospital Board of Directors to ensure that local needs are considered at all times.

» 6. Delivery services — Limit delivery services by vendors to normal business hours of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

» 7. Property tax re-assessment — There is evidence from other cities demonstrating that property values go down under and near flight paths. The City Council should authorize a re-assessment of all property that is affected. The percentage reduction should apply to all units regardless of Proposition 13 status.

» 8. Helipad

A. Definition of emergency and trauma: 1) Not all life-threatening illnesses or trauma need immediate attention; 2) we need definitions of which traumas and illnesses must have direct helicopter transfer to the hospital and which types an alternative form of transportation would be satisfactory.

B. Hours — Possibly different standards for 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 a.m.

C. Limit market area: 1) How far away can the hospital receive helicopter patients?; 2) can patients from San Luis Obispo and Ventura go to other hospitals without risking danger to the patient? SLO can go to San Francisco and Ventura to Los Angeles, for example.

D. Types of aircraft — Some are noisier than others. Prohibit the nosier ones.

E. Flight path restrictions: 1) Restricted weather — FAA regulations restrict landing in populated areas under certain weather conditions. Allow landing only when weather permits flight path between Pueblo and Junipero streets. 2) Altitude — Increase the altitude and possible other technical flight patterns to minimize noise.

F. Noise Reduction and Mitigation Program: 1) Similar to other hospitals, including UCSF in San Francisco; 2) undertake an acoustic survey to determine the noise levels in various areas of the neighborhood to provide accurate data that could be used to determine further mitigation and reduction measures.

» 9. Child care center

A. Modify the hours of outdoor operation.

B. Modify the location on the property that noisy activities can take place.

C. Fix the fence surrounding the Child Care Facility and provide soundproofing.

» 10. Retrofit fund — The hospital will provide funding for residents within a specific area for retro fitting property when necessary to mitigate noise and other problems caused by the hospital.

Dana Schorr
Santa Barbara

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