It’s a long ways from Palmdale to Bakersfield and down to Mission Hills. And there’s about 375,000 people in-between, alternately hacking, sneezing, suffering flu, crashing cars, falling off ladders, suffering strokes, heart attacks, cancer, diabetes – and the thousands of other ailments and foibles afflicting mankind. Yes, it’s a mosh-pit of disease and accidents out there, and you and I are basically digits parked in the “times up” lottery system until our own number is called up and fate or human failure befalls us. And then, “Who you gonna call?” Hopefully, not “Ghostbusters.” But it’s very likely you’ll be calling on Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital to pull your bum out of the fire. HMNH is the only (read – only) trauma center between the three points mentioned above. That’s a pile of square miles inhabited by us frail humans – and we’ve got but one place close by – drivable close – to respond to our most urgent cases. Vehicular accidents. Stroke. Heart attack. Violence. Accident. Natural catastrophe. That alone makes HMNMH pretty darn important to the families and individuals inhabiting our fair valley and points adjacent. There’s that, but then there’s this, too. Running the numbers in 2017: 71,029 Emergency Room Visits (Can you even believe that?) 12,573 Inpatients 36,981 Outpatients 1,362 Babies Delivered (Mr. Stork has nothing on that) The thought of what would happen in our valley without HMNH is just flabbergasting. Think response time if we had to cram into Northridge or Holy Cross. Think of inconvenience and transport time and fatality risk if all that additional driving or flying time was routinely incurred. Some people love Henry Mayo and some less so, as with all things. But one thing: HMNH is indispensable to a reasonable and sane quality of life for everyone one of us in our vicinity. And we have no backup. Where it might be helpful to have a 2nd hospital serving such a large population, sorry – there isn’t one. We are a one pony town here and it’s likely to stay that way for some time. The new Kaiser facility will certainly help, with its expanded urgent care and surgical capabilities. But it’s not a trauma center and it’s not a hospital and there won’t be an ICU and so with our one pony we’ll remain. I happened into the emergency room at HMNH one week ago. My own sister was admitted for respiratory problems, quickly intubated, stabilized, analyzed and prepped for surgery related to stroke. An ambulance got her from her home to the hospital in under ten minutes and hospital staff jumped on her case without hesitation. That night she had surgery to remove pressure from her brain. The emergency room was packed wall to wall, and if beds could hang from the ceiling they would have been hanging there, too. Like other hospitals in California, HMNH is responding to a horrendous flu cycle. They are processing quickly under tremendous pressure, even expanding care into other areas of the hospital. Some patients plainly arrived in great distress. Others crashed the hospital when perhaps an urgent care facility might have been more prudent. Still, HMNH took all comers and worked their way through the throngs of coughing, hacking, sneezing, aching, high temperature flu sufferers. Plus the broken limbs. Plus the car crash victims. Plus my sister’s tragic stroke. Sis is in ICU now. Sadly, her’s is a tougher case. That said, the myriad of nurses and doctors we encountered have been the most knowledgeable and professional we’ve encountered. These folks have been absolute tops. Theirs is a very tough job with the toughest of patients. And not all outcomes can be that which families hope. Expectations as well as care must be managed. Anyone interested should arrange a tour through Henry Mayo’s ICU to appreciate how far the hospital has advanced over its decades of service here. It’s extremely modern, very well equipped, impressively clean, quiet, and functional. Do it, to witness the good hands to which we trust our community’s most challenging care. The coming days will determine my sister’s future. And we hope and pray for the very best. No matter what, she got either the very best or something quite close to it. Right here. 10 minutes from her home. Just minutes from your home, when your number unfortunately comes up. HMNH is currently in fundraising mode for their new tower you see being constructed. They’re raising $25 million of donation funds to combine with $125 million of bond financing for this $150 million six-story new facility. Think 120 new medical / surgical beds. Think up to 140 new patient beds. All private rooms. A new permanent heliport to save you, your friends and family when accidents happen out in Gorman or Acton or out in the mountains somewhere. Think added capacity when our next natural disaster inevitably hits. It takes the help of an entire town to build a hospital and it takes a hospital to care for that town. HMNH is surely pleased to receive your assistance as they build up to assist all of us. And build they must, as they’re already quite bursting at the seams on busy days. For information, call 661-200-1204 and ask about the tower fundraising drive. Or log onto http://www.henrymayo.com/foundation/foundation-home and go to Giving Opportunities.