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The Hospital Decision – A Third Option?

February 11, 2012

A firestorm is raging in Stafford County – a firestorm pitting supporters and non-supporters of the local County Hospital.

What folks on both sides of this issue agree on is neither are too happy with the way the hospital’s operation was conducted – until a recent restructure. And, that restructure is the important point for those on the support side of the hall. But, trust lost isn’t easy to regain.

So, the hospital entourage put on three town hall meetings. The options were explained to the audience. It was presented kind of like the old western quote – “You’re going to hand it over, or I’m going to search you, there’s no third way.”

The first option was explained as a “no-funds-warrant.” Commissioners authorized this option in hopes the hospital could remain open. The problem with this approach is the voters wouldn’t get to decide the fate of the hospital. Commissioners said they would’ve liked to give the decision to the voters, but hospital representatives said they couldn’t survive long enough for an election.

The second option is 5% of the voters could sign a petition that would require a special election on the “no-funds-warrant”. The problem with this approach is the hospital may not survive the wait. And, the cost of a special election might run in the range of $8,000.

But, are there only two options?

We’ve been told the “no-funds-warrant” is needed to repay the standing debt. And, we’ve also be told the debt has to be repaid regardless if it’s done with a “no-funds-warrant”.

So, couldn’t we just let the “no-funds-warrant” stand and then simply place an option – whether the hospital should remain open – on the regular November election ballot? That option – if possible – would take the burden of consequence off both the commissioners and those who would sign a petition if not given a third choice.

The hospital decision – is there a third option?

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