Monday, February 27, 2017

"Damn the Taxes"--Save Our Hospital

Save the hospital!  Signs decorate lawns, roadsides, and storefronts all over Monroe County.  Strange, I haven’t seen a single “Don’t Save the Hospital” sign.  I don’t necessarily think that’s any indication of how the vote will go on March 21st, but I do think there are a tremendous amount of people who feel “damn the taxes” we need a hospital in our town! 

Last October, George had a prostate biopsy at the Dublin VA on a Friday.  He was advised to drink lots of water and he did.  On Sunday, he stopped urinating.  By Sunday night, he was in excruciating pain.  He told me to take him to the hospital.  Since George is not fond of medical facilities, I knew I had to move, and move fast.  I offered to call an ambulance and he said, “I can’t wait.”  I had not driven after dark in two years, but I did what I had to do, and that was 80-90 mph on the Interstate from High Falls to Forsyth.  As George was writhing in the seat next to me, I prayed a Sheriff’s deputy would stop me so I could hand George off to them.  We made it to Monroe County Hospital Emergency Room just before I had a nervous breakdown and before George passed out.  In minutes, he was greatly relieved by the speedy and professional care he received.

I tell you this story to point out that George could not have withstood the pain he was in if we had to drive to Griffin, Macon, or McDonough to receive care.  True, this was not a life or death situation, but to the one suffering, it can certainly feel that way.  Everybody you speak with has a similar story of the life-saving measures taken by the Monroe County Hospital.

Frankly, I find it appalling that we have reached this point in the history of our city and state.  I am appalled that nothing was done sooner.  In September 2014, I wrote, Unfortunately, Governor Deal turned the deal down by refusing to expand Medicaid. In doing so, he deprived healthcare to 600,000 of the working poor in Georgia and axed the 70,000 jobs that would have been created. Smaller and rural hospitals will be forced to close their doors or become nothing more than a “first aid” station without Medicaid expansion. Even our own Monroe County Hospital would have benefited from this deal.

In April 2016, I wrote “I am reminded of the statement made in 2014 by Georgia’s Republican Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens about Obama Care. He said, “We will do everything in our power to be obstructionist!”  Following that, Governor Deal refused to accept the $39 billion in Medicaid expansion funds.  Republican Governors in other red states also refused to expand Medicaid, except for a few like Kentucky, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  Those states, along with the blue states accepting the expansion are enjoying growth in health care today. 

Just remember this folks.  It is the Republicans in Atlanta that got us in this mess with our hospital in Monroe County.  Our share of that $39 billion Medicaid expansion would have been more than sufficient to cover indigent losses at Monroe County Hospital. I didn’t hear the Republicans on the Commission appealing to Governor Deal.  I haven’t heard a peep out of Senator John Kennedy, and Representatives Susan Holmes or Robert Dickey about introducing legislation to over turn the Governor’s misguided mistake to save our hospital. Now, our Republican led County Commissioners have to own this mess and fix it for their constituents.  Shutting it down is not an acceptable answer.

Many people who live at, or near the Bibb county line have the attitude, “Who cares about the people who find it hard to go to Macon; we live close to Macon so shut it down and save us a few dollars on our tax bill.  To that I say, skip a day on the golf course or a night at Natalia’s and that will pay for that small tax increase that will not only save lives but save the integrity of our town. (I sound like a liberal, don’t I?)

The real truth, if the hospital closes, we can never be issued another Certificate of Need due to a trauma center being within 50 miles of Forsyth.  There will never be another Monroe County Hospital.  In his Guest Column last week, Commissioner Ambrose stated, “If the Hospital closes, then the open market would rule.” That means a privately owned, for-profit Urgent Care Center is a possibility but never expect a hospital with full services and a 24-hour emergency room again. 

Furthermore, if you have so much faith in Trump and Congress replacing Obama Care with something so much better, put your vote where your mouth is. Vote Yes to save the hospital until the Republicans in Washington you so trust, have a chance to work their magic.  I’m sure if Trump has the idea of offering Georgia $39 billion dollars, Governor Deal will take it!