“Improve healthcare first and build the monument second,” Writes Letter to the Editor About Proposed Hospital Tax
PROPOSED HOSPITAL PARCEL TAX INCREASE-MEASURE W-INFORMATION FOR VOTERS
c This time it is to be increased to $170 per parcel for 45 years, the total would be 73 million dollars. This would be to pay back a 40 million dollar loan including the interest. We have been told that by 2030 we will have to do an earthquake retrofit that cannot be done at the existing facility so therefore we need to build a new one for 73 million dollars.
First you should have some background information that will help you make this decision. Seismic preparedness levels are listed as 1 through 5. By 2013 hospitals were to be at a minimum of level 2. By 2030 the minimum level is 3. Several years ago, SHCHD performed a retrofit on the existing facility and increased the level from 1 to 2. They would like you to think that this is required by the state or you will have to close your healthcare facility. This is not true. The following is a partial list of hospitals that have not increased their level from 1 to 2, they are still open and serving their communities. They receive payments from MediCal, Medicare and all the other companies that reimburse for healthcare.
Highland Hospital – Oakland
Enloe Medical Center – Chico
Colusa Medical Center – Colusa
Delano Regional Center – Delano
Coast Plaza Hospital – Norwalk
College Medical Center – Long Beach
Community Hospital – Long Beach
Glendale Adventist Medical Center – Glendale
Kaiser Foundation Hospital – Panorama City
Kindred Hospital – Baldwin Park
Kindred Hospital – Gardena
Harbor UCLA Medical Center – Torrance
LA Community Hospital – Bellflower
LA Metro Med Center – LA
Promise Hospital – East LA
Ronald Regan Medical Center – LA
Shriners Hospital for Children – LA
Marin General Hospital – Greenbrae
This partial list of hospitals is from the Office of Statewide Health Planning And Development. This includes small and large facilities. Again, these hospitals have not gone from a 1 to 2 in their seismic upgrades. They certainly will not go to 3. The list of hospitals that have gone to 2 and will not go a 3 will be longer than the previous list.
Spreading rumor and fear in order to gain public approval of this megaproject is in very poor taste. The following has been said: If we don’t build a new hospital, your property values will go down, people will move out of the area, you will die before you can be transported to Fortuna or Willits, businesses in town will suffer, it will damage our schools. None of this is true. The state has no intention of closing any hospital. The existing facility can be used for the next 50 years. We do not need to change the physical facility. People say that the quality of the available services are substandard and that what is offered does not meet their needs. Building a 40 million dollar hospital building will not bring a superior medical staff to Southern Humboldt.
There are other issues. SHCHD claims to need the current parcel tax amount to stay open. A $170/parcel tax is a $45 increase from the current $125/parcel tax. This would provide an additional $430,000 per year in income. The payment per year on a USDA loan of 40 million dollars for 40 years at 3.4% interest is $1.82 million. Seems we are short about $1.37 million per year. Coupled with the fact that the proposed hospital is only a building, not furnished or equipped, the district will have to ask for an additional $300/parcel after construction begins. Frank R Howard Hospital in Willits is a new and equipped 25 bed facility and the cost was $64 million, why is the SHCHD proposal, which is less than half the size, cost so much? In addition, SHCHD says it has 5000 patient visits per year; if the parcel tax increases to $1.63 million per year it means each patient visit will cost the taxpayers $326.
Where do we go from here? I suggest we vote no on Measure W. And then find and elect people who want to improve healthcare first and build the monument second.