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

9 Responses for Southeast Health of Ripley County

  1. I agree with you 100%! I worked for Southeast RCMH for almost 15 years in the lab. And we stabilized numerous patients that would of probably not made it. I worked at the clinic as well and we provided care to many individuals who could of not went to Poplar Bluff. We have an excellent staff at both facilities who provide compassion and service to our residents.

  2. having the need for our hospital on the morning of Oct. 10th, 2015, i discovered just how much of a lifesaver our local hospital was ! when i called and said i was on my way , ( yes i drove) and told them it was either the recurring reaction to MSG, or it could be a heart attack. I was met in the parking lot by 3 ppl and by the time we reached my bed i had already chewed an aspirin, was wired for an ekg, and received a nitro tablet. all said and done i KNOW, that the crew that nite prevented me from having a yet third heart attack, and got me stabilized for the open heart surgery i received by an excellent team in Poplar Bluff, later that day ! i say HELLYES, to the small amount we will be asked to give for such an important facility in our hometown. please get out and ask for support for this vital part of our community !

  3. Pamela Shelley on

    Why does the clinics have to close, even if the hospital does? Surely those clinics make enough money to stay open. I don’t understand even why the hospital can’t support its self.

  4. When SoutheastHealth purchased the local hospital, the rural clinics fall under the hospital. Therefor, they fall under Southeast. If they pull out of our area, then all the clinics that are also associated with SoutheastHealth will also be closed (as happened in Reynolds Co.).
    A doctor, or group of doctors, could open a clinic on their own; but that would take about a year to get up and running.

  5. Elizabeth Bradham on

    I live in Ripley County and have a rare genetic disease. For 45 years I suffered with this disease with no medications, came close to death many times, some of those times in what once was called Ripley Memorial Hospital. It was a godsend for me when 5 years ago the first medications became available to treat the life threatening swells that occur with having HAE. The only down fall to the medication is that it has to be administered by medical professionals.When I first started receiving medication the hospital in Poplar Bluff was contacted by myself and I was told NOT to come to their ER as they didn’t want to take the time to learn and educate themselves about my disease and treatments available, so that left Ripley County. Since it is primarily an emergency situation involving airway blockage, I was very nervous at first because I was going to have to depend on the very hospital that had seen me near death before and could not help me because of lack of knowledge and medication but I reached out anyway. It was the best decision I have ever made. The emergency staff was eager to learn and educate themselves on my disease and how they could help me. Many times when I go to the ER there are doctors on staff that know nothing of my disease much less how to treat it, but the nurses quickly educate them and make sure there are no issues with the administration of my medication. Without Southeast Hospital in Ripley County I would die. Plain and simple. I cannot help but think that people with heart attacks, strokes, shooting victims, accident victims and many other critical care need situations would die too without the efforts of our local ER. Do I want to pay more taxes? NO. I will however do what I need to do to make sure that we in Ripley county have access to medical attention when we need it. I beg of you not to allow this hospital to close, not just for myself but for all of us that a 20 minute ride to Poplar Bluff can mean the difference between life and death.

  6. Before we start talking about pouring more money into the system, perhaps we should discuss what steps have been taken to correct the problems of the past. ie: Millions of dollars in tax evasion through creative accounting practices, numerous labor law violations, the continued retention of not so beneficial Dr.s (Lamb, Cooprider, etc) and administrative staff (Garrison, etc.) which prove to be liabilities to the company and to the community, and, in the case of the clinics) excessive waiting room stays which can sometimes be in excess of 2-3 hours. I am in no way trying to be a detractor from the idea that our community needs a hospital, but trying to open a constructive dialogue about problems that have plagued our facilities for quite some time. We do need to know that these issues have been addressed, and in what ways, before we are asked to shoulder more funding for the endeavor. The Reynolds County facilities are closing in part due to the fact that millions in additional debt which had been accrued, obscured, and defaulted on by the previous owners came to light. Much like the bailouts of 2008, taxpayers are being asked to reward bad business decisions through additional funding. Southeast wouldn’t do it in Reynolds County, so what corrective steps have been taken here in Ripley County that would justify asking us doing so.

  7. There have been changes to the administration and doctors that are on staff at the hospital. Please take time to attend the Town Hall Meeting on Monday, Feb 22, at 7:00 pm to get answers questions and to also raise your concerns to the CEO of SoutheastHealth.

  8. Can Ripley County residents vote in the April 5 municipal election?

  9. Yes, all residents of Ripley County will vote in the April 5 election. There will be taxes relevant to the hospital and individual cities. School board and city council will also be on the ballot.

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