Archive for February 2016

SoutheastHealth Town Hall Meeting (2/22/16)

What a week, and it’s only Tuesday.  I’m excited about having tomorrow off, but as I’m unwinding from a day at work and listening to the rain I cannot help but think about everything that is happening in the community.

One is the fact that the CEO of SoutheastHealth, Ken Bateman, took time out of his schedule to come to Doniphan and meet with the people of Ripley County.  He started the morning off with coffee at Town and Country with the morning crew that eats there everyday, then held meetings at the hospital with staff, stopped by the Ministerial Alliance to meet with leaders of the community, and then held the town hall meeting later that night.  He is willing to be open and honest about our situation, letting everyone know where we stand.

I worked Monday, but was able to catch him at the Town Hall meeting at His Place.  The floor was open for questions from the community to get information of what is happening and going to happen.  It was a GREAT opportunity for people to come out and get answers to their questions and to hear the plans for Ripley County’s hospital.  There were a lot of people who took this opportunity and came out — thank you.  Others did not, and I hope that if they hear information or are told “facts” that they double check before repeating them and getting upset.

This blog is going to look at some of the questions asked and the answers given.  BUT if you have ANY questions or would like further clarification…PLEASE feel free to contact the hospital administration at 573-996-2141.  The administration and staff do not want anyone to go into the election on April 5 with questions or being uninformed.

One questions was about “What has SoutheastHealth done for the hospital?”:  SoutheastHealth is leasing our hospital from the county.  We have a hospital board that is made up of elected officials that oversee the leasing and payments made to Southeast.  When the agreement was made, Ripley County Memorial was behind in payroll taxes; SoutheastHealth has absorbed that debt and is paying it off.  SoutheastHealth is also the only facility willing to take on a struggling facility three years ago, after members of our community went to bat for us and contacted several places looking for someone to step in, SoutheastHealth stepped up to the plate.

Comment made at town hall meeting and being spread around the community, “If you are so much in debt, why give away free stuff…you’re just wasting money”:  The items that were given away (t-shirts, mugs, flyers) these items have been purchased and paid for by the marketing department in Cape Girardeau to help us in Ripley County to get the word out and promote the hospital.  NO funds from our local facility was used to purchase these items.  This is how much Mr. Bateman and the staff in Cape Girardeau want to see us succeed.

Another big question is “What is this going to cost me?”:  There are many figures that are being thrown around.  Some say $20.00/year, some are saying $40.00/year, others can’t name a figure they just say that it’s not either one of those.  Look at it this way:  if you combine all your utilities and everything you purchase in Ripley County and end up spending $10,000 a year in the county (yes, TEN THOUSAND) then you will end up paying $50.00 (FIFTY) dollars in tax to the county that will be delegated to the hospital.  ($10,000 x 0.5% = $50.00).  This figure is per household, NOT per person…unless your kids have their own income and pay utilities and buy their own groceries. :)

“What happens if the tax doesn’t pass?”:  If the 1/2 cent tax raise does not pass then the hospital, and all the associated clinics (outpatient lab, outpatient radiology, physical therapy, Family Clinic, Ripley County Clinic, Home Health), will be closed by the end of May.

“If the hospital closes, what happens with the tax?”:  The tax and the money collected goes to the county.  The Ripley County Commissioners cut a check for the funds to the Ripley County Hospital Board, who in turn then pay SoutheastHealth.  Therefore, if the hospital is released by SoutheastHealth and someone else opens it up or steps in to lease it; the funds will continue to operate this facility.  If the hospital does not continue to operate, the tax will be dropped.

SoutheastHealth does not have direct access to the funds; therefore the money will not be filtered into other facilities.  The money collected by the RIPLEY COUNTY TAX will stay in RIPLEY COUNTY.

There was also concerns about local physicians being able to visit their patients in the hospital.  If the physician is a Southeast employee, they have rights to visit the patient.  It is physician preference if they take this opportunity.

In-patients and direct admitting:  Yes if we have more people as inpatients (depending on the type of insurance and some other factors) the facility will make more money.  It was stated, by Mr. Bateman, that the situation of direct admits will be reviewed, and that keeping in-patients is a goal for the facility.

Is this a lot of information? Yes.  I hope this clears some things up…it’s a lot to take in and process.  Trust me, I know.  Again, if there are still questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the hospital administration.  I hope that as a community we take the opportunity to keep healthcare local.

If you are not registered to vote, the deadline is March 9 at 5:00 pm.  You can also vote by absentee ballot, which is cut off the Saturday prior to election (Saturday, April 2).  The election will be held on Tuesday, April 5.

Ripley*Pride!!

ERM

 

Southeast Health of Ripley County

Many times I turn to my blog to put into words what is difficult to say verbally, or to muddle through situations that I have difficulty wrapping my mind around.  By typing them out it puts them into perspective and also allows me to vent in a place where a back space is available and I really can take back what I say — as long as I do it before I hit “publish”. :-)

Today’s blog is no different.  I type this to try to get my mind around a situation, bring awareness to our community, and to hopefully get information out that will help voters to make a decision that can affect our economy and stability of Ripley County.

Today at our facility, Southeast Health of Ripley County, there was a meeting held with our CEO, Cheri Barton, and the President of Southeast, Ken Batemen.  They announced that the Reynolds County hospital (located in Ellington, MO) was closing.  This was a decision not made lightly.  The news was also in the Southeast Missourian paper:  SoutheastHEALTH Closing Reynolds County.  Not only is the physical hospital closing, but so are all the clinics associated with the hospital in Reynolds County (Ellington) and Van Buren.  That leaves two city’s and their surrounding area without immediate healthcare.

The second item discussed in the meeting was the future of Southeast Health of Ripley County.  As many of you have heard, there will be a item on the ballot during the April 5 election that pertains to the hospital.  This item has the dreaded word “tax” included.  Many people will read the word “tax” and have a knee-jerk reaction, and automatically fill in the circle next to the word NO.  I sincerely hope this does not happen.

What it is.  The tax is a 0.5% increase.  Say I take my current utility bill.  It was $130.00.  I would have an extra $0.65 added by this tax increase.  My bill fluctuates each month, but if it did not I would pay $7.80 A YEAR to help support the hospital and the local clinics.  By supporting them, I will have healthcare available to me and my family, in my local city.  This is less than one McDonald’s meal for the whole YEAR.

The ballot item states that it will “increase the county-wide retail sales, domestic utilities, and local utilities tax by up to one-half of one percent”.  This funding will go toward the operating cost of Ripley County Hospital, Family Clinic (Leroux’s), and the County Clinic (Samuel’s); which are all owned by SoutheastHealth.  Not only will the residents be helping support it, individuals who come to town during the summer (who also use our clinics and hospitals in emergency situations) will also help fund it through the retail sales.  Again, it’s the dreaded word “tax”, but by voting YES on this item it will keep the doors open to healthcare for you and your family locally.

I want to take the word tax and change it to “security”.  This “security” will make healthcare available in emergency situations, keeping the doors of the hospital open for stabilization and care needed when an extra thirty minutes (drive to Poplar Bluff) can mean life or death.  It means that you can run to the doctor during the day and only miss an hour of work (wait time and Dr visit) instead of spending an hour just driving to/from the Dr visit.  This “security” will keep jobs available to members of our community, and keep revenue local.  If individuals drive outside of the county to work and to see the doctor, they will also spend their money outside of our county — shopping and getting their prescriptions filled.

During the meeting that was held today (Tuesday, February 9) it was stated that if this “security” does not pass, then Ripley County will also face the same fate as Reynolds.  Our local hospital and the associated clinics (Leroux’s and Samuel’s) will be closing their doors.  I personally do not want to see this happen.  Not only for myself (I work at the hospital and LOVE my job) but also for the families that we have helped.  The heart attack victims, the stroke victims, the MVA trauma’s that we stabilize and Air Evac out, the lacerations that get treated, and the basic everyday “I can’t afford the trip to Poplar Bluff” care that we see daily.  I LOVE working in my hometown and assisting the people of my community.  I do not want to lose this opportunity to give back.  To be there to assist people I know and care about in their time of need.  If, when the vote is taken and you say “NO” this opportunity will be taken away from this community.

I’ve said all of the above to say this…please consider what we will lose as a community when you go to the polls on April 5, and please vote YES to the item concerning the hospital.  By voting YES, you will keep healthcare access local for you and your family and also keep jobs available for fellow Ripley County residents.

ERM