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.