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December 4, 2022

Guest Column | Protecting the Most Precious Gift We Hold in Life — Our Health

In 1948, the World Health Organization defined health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” WHO published further clarifications in 1986, citing health as “a resource for everyday life, not the objective of living. Health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.”

This means that health helps support an individual’s function in wider society, rather than an end in itself. A healthful lifestyle provides the means to lead a full life with meaning and purpose.

Going back 60 years to humble beginnings, Mee Memorial Healthcare System has long been a trusted foundation of our rural community in South Monterey County. We have always held a vision to promote health and well-being — but in the context of helping our neighbors to thrive, not just survive.

MMHS’s highest priority is to serve the healthcare needs of our valued community. This includes offering an extensive array of services with a commitment to the highest possible standards, the best available technology and a highly skilled healthcare team.

Health is the most precious gift we humans hold in life because it …

  • helps us live longer;
  • helps us have more “good years” as we age;
  • makes us feel better;
  • makes us less stressed;
  • enables us to spend quality time with loved ones;
  • makes us better at our jobs;
  • helps us serve our community; and
  • reduces the time and money we need to spend on healthcare.

The last benefit is especially important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), healthcare costs in the United States total $4.1 trillion (or $12,530 per person) each year.

In many rural communities across the country, health disparities are deeply rooted in economic, social, racial, ethnic, geographic, and health workforce factors. That tends to limit access to care, and makes finding solutions more difficult. At MMHS, we are committed to providing culturally sensitive and patient-centered healthcare, delivered with the highest quality of service, to ALL our residents. There is no other way forward.

When Mee Memorial Hospital first opened its doors in 1962 — with rancher Tom Mee donating $150,000 from a cattle sale — medical professionals faced many challenges in providing quality healthcare in a rural community.

A strong foundation was built, through loyal support, dedicated volunteerism and the sheer determination of healthcare professionals.

In the past 15 years, a new Mee has emerged. In 2007, the second floor of the hospital was finished to increase the number of beds to 119. In addition to our hospital services, we have a network of five clinics, four in King City and one in Greenfield.

MMHS continues to improve and expand to meet both inpatient and outpatient needs in an area of several thousands square miles.

As the community and this hospital move forward, there is no greater defense of good health than personal responsibility. Visit your doctor for wellness checks, eat well, exercise, learn what it takes to stay healthy, find that delicate balance between work and home life, and find ways to thrive.

It’s a critical time of year when it comes to both health and safety in our community. We are entering the fall season, the days are getting shorter, kids are back in school and the winter holidays are on the horizon. It’s time to be vigilant — while still enjoying all that makes rural living rewarding.

Here are some health-first tips for the rest of 2022:

Get your flu shot

Experts say it’s likely that the flu and Covid-19 will both spread this fall and winter as people begin to move indoors. While a flu vaccine will not protect against Covid-19, there are many important benefits, such as reducing the risk of flu illness and hospitalization, while saving resources for patients suffering from more serious healthcare needs. Flu also affects employers and businesses, costing an estimated $11.2 billion in direct and indirect costs in the U.S. annually. MMHS will host a number of free flu clinics throughout South County, with dates and times to be announced soon.

Immunize your children

Kids should get most of their shots during their first 2 years after birth. This is because many of these diseases are the most severe in the very young. Some diseases that once injured or killed thousands of children — such as polio, tetanus, and diphtheria — have been eliminated completely, and others are close to extinction. This is due to safe and effective vaccines — and that includes those to protect against Covid-19. Talk to your family doctor today about immunizing your child.

Have a safe Halloween

For our children, Oct. 31 is a much-anticipated day of fun and frolic. We remind parents to make safety a priority. Remember to decorate costumes and bags with reflective tape or stickers and, if possible, choose light colors. Choose face paint and makeup whenever possible instead of full masks, which can obstruct a child’s vision. Remain in trusted neighborhoods and send older children out with a phone (for emergencies only).

For 60 years, helping our community stay healthy and safe has remained in MMHS’s best interest. It’s what we do, and what we stand for. But it’s vital that each of us become our own advocate in safeguarding and maintaining our health.

Let’s pull together on all these fronts and finish 2022 as the best versions of ourselves.

Rena Salamacha
CEO, Mee Memorial Healthcare System

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