Letters to the Editor

Letters | Hospital need has changed

I would like to respond to Superintendent McCollum’s comments regarding a letter from Mr. Backues on Sept. 26.

While the capital cost for the new hospital may be approximately $38 million dollars, this cost will be in addition to present public health district debt of $50 million that was presented at commissioners’ meetings held July 5 and August 2—a figure that to my knowledge has not changed.

In addition there are outstanding funds due the district from the sale of the present hospital which had a contracted sale price of $30 million based on the property appraisal but was then reduced by vote of the commissioners “for a discounted principal amount of $14 million in cash.”

The issue of cost and finances is a significant issue, if not a greater one. The state auditor’s office recently released its finding of the 2010 audit. It states: “This financial position places the district at risk of not meeting its financial obligations or continuing to provide services at current levels… We recommend the District Board and management closely monitor and evaluate a comprehensive plan to address the district’s financial condition. The district should ensure the plan is followed, the desired results are achieved and revise the plan as needed.”

The auditor expressed this concern while acknowledging that the hospital district is compliant with state law. I believe we should all have the same concern as the auditor’s office expressed.

Yes, the conversation is old on both sides, but now the availability of other hospitals serving this area has also increased. These hospitals are in close proximity to Public Hospital District 4 boundaries and are fully staffed using the latest technology and emergent care. I hate to state the obvious, but the result is a decreased need for a hospital in District 4.

Dariel Norris



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