Four reasons why I’m voting YES for the Lake Chelan Community Hospital Levy
(Opinion – Editorial) By Guy Evans, Citizens for a New Hospital Now
I am voting yes for the Lake Chelan Community Hospital Levy because I want to maintain quality health care here in the Lake Chelan valley. Here’s four specific reasons why:
First, to continue to meet the needs of our growing valley, our hospital needs more space. A quick tour of the current facility confirms this reality. Bathrooms are used for storage rooms. Storage rooms are used for offices. Offices have been torn out to make room for patient care. The place is stuffed.
Opponents argue we don’t need more space. They argue we shouldn’t grow but instead reduce our services. “Stabilize and Ship”, they call it. This would mean the end of delivering babies in the Lake Chelan valley. And it would leave the community with a significant tax burden. Visit Leavenworth to see this model in action. It doesn’t make sense here. We are Lake Chelan.
Second, building a new facility is the most economical route. The new hospital will cost $44 million. That’s on par with other new hospitals of similar caliber around the state. What will it cost you and me? An extra $10 per month if our homes are valued at $300,000. And that rate will go down over time as more homes are built in the valley.
Opponents argue that $44 million is too much for our community to pay. But staying put has its price as well. The “Stabilize and Ship” model would run well in excess of $14 million. So staying put still costs big bucks, reduces our services, and requires significant taxes. This may make sense elsewhere, but it doesn’t add up here. We are Lake Chelan.
Third, a stable and sound plan exists to pay for the hospital over time. Increased reimbursements combined with taxpayer support will pay for over 90% of the yearly debt payment. The balance, less than 1% of total hospital revenues, will be less than current debt service payments.
Even in the face of this sound plan, opponents are worried. They fear the money won’t be there. They compare us to other places where hospitals are struggling: Grand Coulee, Quincy, Kennewick. But these communities don’t have what we have.
We have a stable hospital with sound finances. We have a low percentage of uninsured. We have stable reimbursements. And we are a growing community with a swelling retiree population. We are Lake Chelan.
Finally, the time has arrived to build a new hospital. We built our first hospital in 1948, and the second in 1972. It’s our turn now to reinvest in our future.
Is there uncertainty and risk? Yes, without a doubt. Life is uncertain. The opposition casts dire predictions of our health care future. But our risk actually goes up if we stay put. We would still be required to invest in our current hospital, we still would pay significant taxes, and we get fewer services. That just doesn’t make sense.
I’m voting yes because we are a growing community. I’m voting yes because we have a stable and sound hospital that needs a new facility to continue to grow. I’m voting yes because we are Lake Chelan. Please join me in casting your Yes vote on April 25th.
Guy Evans can be reached at email@example.com.