Loma Linda University Medical Center Expands


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According to this story in the Press-Enterprise, Loma Linda University appears to be spreading out in one of the fastest growing areas of California.

The university plans to build a new $1 billion children's hospital in Loma Linda and in the last two months has either opened, broken ground or announced partnerships with other medical groups for five other facilities stretching from Colton to Murrieta.

"We are not growing because we want to grow," says Dr. Richard Hart (pictured), CEO of Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, the parent organization of the university and its medical center and children's hospital.

"We are growing because we want to keep pace with the demand." ... As a Level 1 trauma center, Loma Linda takes patients with the most severe injuries and medical problems from as far north as Bishop and as far east as the Arizona state line. But most of its patients come from the Inland Empire.

By building a new children's hospital, Loma Linda wants to free up hospital beds for the most seriously ill patients, Hart said, and then convert the old children's hospital to use by adult patients.

And the reach is not just through Southern California. The Daily Bulletin provides an update on the Medical Center's commitment to the Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital in Kabul since the 1960s.

Loma Linda University has a team of eight doctors and support staff members there, and while they live on the hospital grounds, which are generally considered safe, their security remains a concern. The drive from Kabul's airport, known as Airport Road, is a favorite choice for insurgents to place explosive devices and wait for a passing vehicle with Westerners.

You might not realize it, but Afghanistan is becoming the proverbial tip of the anti-Western insurgency's spear.

In the past two months, combat deaths there have exceeded the numbers in Iraq, and with Afghan President Hamid Karzai's hold over the nation weakening, the future there remains cloudy, at best.

It's just another example of the flawed thinking that led to the invasion of Iraq because after American forces dismantled the Taliban's reign, the chance for truly helping Afghanistan was very, very real.

But most of the U.S. military was diverted to Iraq.

The remaining Taliban leaders scurried for safety in Pakistan and elsewhere, and the notorious warlords that control various regions of the country were allowed to remain in power.

Today, the Taliban is coming back, and the warlords remain as dangerous as ever.

But for Hart, the problem is that bureaucracy remains as much of the problem as ever.

"The government is totally inefficient and controlled by personal interests," Hart said, explaining that bureaucrats have thrived in a "survivor's economy" for so long, they either refuse to relinquish some control or don't know how to make it better.

It can be frustrating for people like Hart, who want to help Afghanistan heal. And now, given the United States' struggling economy and continued focus on Iraq, Hart is unsure what will happen when the university's contract with the United States Agency for International Development expires next year.

"We don't know what we are going to do," Hart said.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/793