Showing our appreciation during National Hospital Week

| May 13, 2020 1:00 AM

“The American hospital, whether it be the great urban institution or its humble rural prototype, is constantly making large contributions to that most valuable of all conservations, the saving of human life.” Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the United States, said this when he served as our nation’s Secretary of Commerce.

“Moreover, it is continually accelerating our progress in the field of preventive medicine through medical research; it is giving us ever-advancing ideals in the humanitarian effort, and it provides us with an institution through which the spirit of community service finds one of its most inspiring expressions.”

Hoover advocated for a celebration of hospitals and encouraged members of the public to “honor their area hospitals and hospital employees.” Thanks to Hoover’s diligence, National Hospital Day was first observed on May 12, 1921, on what would have been Florence Nightingale’s one hundred and first birthday.

In 1953 the day was expanded to a week. Sponsored by the American Hospital Association, the week intends to inspire a “friendly reminder that hospitals are pillars in each of the communities that they serve.”

AHA’s website says, “National Hospital Week highlights the adage of every hospital, health system, and person involved in keeping our communities healthy – that health comes first.”

The paradigm of hospitals only caring for the ill or injured began shifting when healthcare providers realized that it was their role to emphasize improving the health of the public they serve. Up sprouted support groups for people with chronic illnesses, educational and exercise programs, and end-of-life services for those in need of palliative care and their families.

Bonner General Hospital was re-branded as Bonner General Health in 2014 to define better what exactly quality, compassionate care means to the people of North Idaho. Despite a reduction of services due to the coronavirus, BGH continues to live up to its mission, serving the community’s healthcare needs close to home.

Most of us were born in a hospital, and many of us will die in one. Between those two dates, a lot of things can happen to us health-wise. BGH is extraordinary for offering healthcare programs that would often only be available in big-city hospitals.

Like what, you might ask? Well, how about when the only obstetrician/gynecologist in Sand-point was about to retire with no one to take his practice, BGH recruited staff and opened Sand-point Women’s Health to fill what would have been an incredible void.

Additionally, filling the health needs of our active community included adding the orthopedic clinic, the ear, nose, and throat clinic, and, most recently, the ophthalmology clinic. It was a BGH nurse who brought forward the idea of putting a first aid station at Schweitzer mountain, and officials jumped right on it.

When it was evident that mental health was a growing issue, the behavioral health clinic was started and has continued to grow. So patients wouldn’t have to travel for routine testing and treatment, the infusion and procedures and, anticoagulation clinics opened.

The point I want to make is we are so fortunate to have the abundance of healthcare opportunities that we do. From top-of-the-line diagnostic imaging to physical, occupational, and speech therapy, to a state-of-the-art laboratory, which has been at the front-front of COVID-19 testing, BGH provides us with unrivaled professional services. And, for that, I am most grateful.

But, a hospital is just a building. It’s the people inside the building that make the difference. We acknowledge with great appreciation our physicians, nurses, and techs. We also give kudos to the clerical staff that checks us in, the kitchen staff that keeps us fed, and the unseens like the medical records clerks and billing staff.

And, perhaps the most essential staff during this pandemic is the custodial people who keep the hospital and health services buildings clean and disinfected to provide a safe environment for patients and staff alike.

I like the quote I heard one say, “I don’t cut corners, I clean them.” To all of the hospital workers here and elsewhere, I say, thank you very much for all you do just for the health of it.

Kathy Hubbard is a member of the Bonner General Health Foundation Advisory Council. She can be reached at