GUEST COLUMN: I want to know more about hospital debt

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, October 9, 2013

NEIL MURPHY

guest columnist

I read in a recent Luverne Journal article about the trials and tribulations of CHS and our hospital.

Board firing and then not firing their attorney.

In that article it was stated that an attempt was being made to refinance the debt related to the hospital renovation.

It was further stated that the refinancing would “save” the county roughly $500,000.

This has generated a series of related questions.

• If lowering the interest rate or other refinancing tactics can save us that sort of money exactly how much money do we owe to begin with? If you can save that sort of money on a debt that debt must be tremendous! I for one would like to know exactly how much we owe and what are the terms of the debt.

• Also of interest would be exactly how much money we pay in other ways toward the hospitals operation and what exactly do we profit from it all?

Presently we the citizens of Crenshaw County have zero input, zero control AND all the debt!

Currently the direction, operation and even what services are and are not offered are dictated and determined by a company from outside of Crenshaw County.

I can only speak for myself but I dislike a small groups making decisions behind closed doors, withholding pertinent financial data and telling me it is all for my own good.

That situation hardly ever works out well for anyone but the people in control.

We must ask ourselves if owning the hospital is of real value to the county or are we simply carrying the debt so that a private company can reap the profits from it.

It seems to me they have a pretty sweet deal at our expense. I would like to operate a business where others cover huge portions of my expenses and maintenance.

All the recent activity and controversy makes it clear that we the citizens of  Crenshaw County have very little if any control of that asset and that a small few appointed by others are making behind closed door decisions about the operation of that asset.

I believe we must make a decision to either regain control of the asset and truly operate it in the best  interest of Crenshaw County with input from the citizens and eliminate this little “crony capitalistic” system we have going now or eliminate that debt and dedicate our revenues in other directions.

At some point we must consider whether it is worth it to us or should we place the asset up for sale.

My personal choice is to keep the asset, make the operation of it truly accountable to the citizens and a real “asset” to us all.

Until just recently, I believed delivering babies, which is a natural, normal healthy event requiring little or no intervention in most cases would fall into the category of a service that a primary hospital would always offer.

Somehow an event which has occurred outside of hospitals for thousands of years without  them has now been turned into something akin to brain surgery.

Since when does delivering babies  requires specially trained nurses and highly specialized equipment and facilities?

Frankly, I am amazed that the human race has survived long enough to get to this point.

It all makes me wonder if they willnot provide that basic service for the community what service is next to go and will we will have a say in it or will it be just another backroom deal?

 

Neil Murphy is a local resident.  He can be reached at murp242@centurytel.net