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It’s Only Fair

February 5, 2012

I’ve attended the first two of three public forums that Stafford Hospital put on to discuss their operation and to fend off a possible petition that would require a public vote on “no fund warrants.” The problem with a public election is it wouldn’t be possible until mid-summer and that would most likely cause the closure of the hospital.

So, what have I discovered at the meetings?

First, the attendance numbers have been good. The audience has had many tough questions for the hospital representatives. The hospital reps didn’t dodge any of the questions and clearly explained how the finances got upside down so quickly. They also explained how they plan on never letting that happening again – if given the chance.

The only problem with the attendees is the absence of “petition signers” in the audience. There was only one who identified himself and even he didn’t necessarily say that he would sign the petition, just that he knew the circulators. The problem is the petition signers are there – or so we are told.

The information about the petition was told to a reporter with the Hutchinson News. A petition organizer told the Hutch News that a petition already has the necessary signatures.

So, why haven’t these people made themselves known? Why haven’t they attended the meetings and explained why they want the hospital to close? Why haven’t they given their ears a chance to listen to what hospital representatives have to say? Why haven’t they listened to the County Economic Development Director explain the financial impact that the hospital’s closure will cause taxpayers?

It seems unfair that it only takes five percent of the registered voters to cause the hospitals closure. Do the petition signers expect to do their work while remaining behind a shroud? I believe the open records law allows a citizen to access the names of these signers.

I believe it’s only fair that citizens see who the people are who caused their hospital to close. I believe it’s only fair that citizens see the names of the people who caused any detrimental economic ripple effect. I believe it’s only fair that citizens see who closed the hospital where their family member could’ve received life-saving care.

I will personally pay the cost to print the names in the local paper. It’s only fair.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Brenda Minnis permalink
    February 5, 2012 6:42 pm

    Well said!

  2. Steve and Tami Brensing permalink
    February 8, 2012 4:31 am

    Let’s use the money it will take for an election to help pay the hospital debt and keep it open. I would encourage everyone to pitch in and help by giving a donation to the Stafford Community Hospital Foundation c/o Stafford Community Hospital RE: Operations.

  3. February 8, 2012 8:04 pm

    We will publish the list or petitioners in the News if that scenario comes to pass.

    • February 9, 2012 3:59 am

      Thanks Terry. I think many of these folks are ones that like to hide behind the scenes. It will be interesting to see what they think if they do submit their petition and then there names are posted for everyone to see. If the hospital should subsequently close, these folks will be reminded forever that they were the ones who forced its closure and caused the domino financial collapse of the City of Stafford and the loss of possibly a tenth of the county population.

      Steve Moody

      Emergency Service Director

      Stafford County Kansas

      620-793-2423

  4. Tami Brensing permalink
    February 10, 2012 3:08 pm

    Please read Pastor Amy Slater’s letter to the editor. As a relatively new resident of Stafford county, her words are well spoken.!

    • Anonymous permalink
      February 10, 2012 4:19 pm

      I have read her letter and agree with you. Very well written.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    February 10, 2012 9:59 pm

    I don’t believe that the people that signed the petition are for closing the Hospital, and it is not right to accuse them of such a thing. Saying that many of them are hiding behind the scenes is just ridiculous. If we wanted to hide we wouldn’t have signed anything. The petition is to put it to a public vote. Which I believe is the right thing to do. We as tax payers are paying for the expenses and have the right to vote on it. Its not our fault that they waited until now when learning about the problem back in October to try and save it. If the Hospital is forced to close look at the board members not the concerned tax payers of the county. They should have caught the problem way before it got this far. I’m not opposed to paying for something that is an asset to the county. I’m worried that if we bail them out now how long will it be till we have to do it again. I still believe they have too many employees for the lack of patients they have, and need to adjust they’re expenses to there revenue a little more before they say they don’t PLAN on this happening again.

    • February 11, 2012 12:01 am

      I would like to reply to your comments (some very valid), but I believe it’s only fair that I – and other readers – know your name. Please post your name and I will reply back.

      • Jessica Burgos permalink
        February 11, 2012 12:23 am

        My name is not important but if you must know my name is Jessica Burgos

  6. February 11, 2012 1:28 am

    Jessica,

    I agree with you on some of your points.

    The responsibility for the shortfall falls on the administrator (who was terminated) and the board. One of the board members stated at the St. John meeting that the hospital’s financials are extremely difficult to understand. I’m sure that’s the case, but it just means that more effort should have been made to understand them. And, I think there has to be some responsibility placed upon the auditors. Financials are their specialty, but they too failed to discover the problem.

    You and others are completely justified in being mad. But, let’s not let that madness drive us to making bad decisions of our own.

    You stated that the fault for the hospital’s possible closure rests entirely upon the board and not the petition signers. Yet, you know that by signing a petition and forcing an election it will ensure that the hospital will likely close. That’s why I believe it’s only fair that folks know who signed the petition.

    I agree – as the Commissioners did also – that taxpayers should be given the chance to decide (vote) on whether the hospital closes or stays open. But, don’t you think that vote should include “all” taxpayers, not a mere 5%?

    I attended all three public forums and a large majority of those in attendance voiced support for the hospital. Yet, if it closes immediately 95% of the taxpayers will never get the chance to vote.

    There are a number of reasons I’m passionate about this matter. I’ve dedicated 34 years of my life to protecting the public. As an emergency care provider the public’s health and welfare is paramount to me. It’s difficult to put a dollar sign on a life.

    But, this subject goes even deeper. I honestly believe the economic impact to the county could be devastating. We were told that the hospital generates over six million dollars a year. How much of this amount is monies that come back to the county through taxation?

    It’s not just the hospital Jessica. I’m not an economist, but I do know that a loss of six million dollars revenue will reach out like an octopus. The tentacles of that octopus will touch areas we never fathomed were connected.

    There’s a reason there are only 3 counties in the entire State of Kansas that are without a hospital. I don’t know the name of these 3 others, but it’s fair to say they probably aren’t very prosperous communities.

    With the right leadership – which I believe is now in place – I think the hospital can re-establish itself. But, it needs to be ran efficiently and also needs the “entire” county’s support.

    Stafford Hospital is not the right choice for all medical needs. But, why would you choose to have a procedure done at an outside hospital when it can be done just as well in your own? Using Stafford Hospital – when it can provide equal service – is like putting your money right back into your own pocket.

    There’s a pervasive mentality with many in Stafford County that those in the next community (also in Stafford County) are the enemy. If we don’t drop that mentality, we will never reach our potential

    Thank you for your comments. I do appreciate your willingness to share your viewpoint.

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