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.