Letter to Editor

I am writing in support of the hospital district. I believe this is a very important vote for Somervell County. Having an excellent healthcare facility in our community is something that too many may take for granted. I have been a resident of Somervell County for 35 years. I am a customer of Glen Rose Medical Center (GRMC) and I work as a Social Worker at the hospital. I am writing this as a concerned citizen.

In our current economy, any increase in the money going out of our pockets is a concern. The ballot will say a tax of 10 cents per $100. This is the maximum allowed without another vote. The estimate has been about 7 to 8 cents. What would it mean to me? The maximum would be approximately $125 a year or $10.42 a month. What do I get for my money? I believe much better odds of continuing to have quality, competent, convenient, healthcare minutes from my home. That is worth $10.42 a month to me.

I have been a Social Worker in healthcare for about 20 years. Each year the number of uninsured and under insured grows, the needs get greater, the cost gets higher and higher. But the resources, insurance, Medicare and Medicaid benefits and payments stay the same or are reduced each year. I will continue to write letters to my elected officials and encourage you to do the same. Your voice and vote are important.

We have an opportunity to not only ensure that local quality care is available, but to ensure the number of services provided can be increased, that the most current technology is available and that the medical center can continue to support our community in many ways. The medical center has a large financial impact on our community and other businesses in our community. Not only health related businesses, such as, home health care, therapy agencies, hospice and pharmacies. But also restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and retail businesses. Many of which are owned and operated by my friends and neighbors. GRMC makes available to the community many free or reduced cost services at health fairs. Tests, screenings, information, infant car seats, bicycle helmets and immunizations are some of the things provided at past health fairs.

A GRMC health fair would change my family’s life. I have had the opportunity to spend the last eleven years with my dad, Joe Huffman, celebrating holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings and all those family thins that are so important. If not for a prostrate screening at a GRMC health fair, I would not have had that opportunity. Within two weeks of that fair, he had surgery for one of the most aggressive types of prostate cancer. He made a full recovery and has remained cancer free. No price can be put on that.

I personally chose GRMC to have a total hip replacement in October of 2008. I knew that I would receive excellent, competent and personal care. GRMC has a much higher nurse to patient ratio than most hospitals to ensure better care. I continued to have my therapy locally and my recovery has been excellent.

As an employee of GRMC, I can assure you that the focus and the goals are always on providing the best quality of services to our customers. Not myself, Gary Marks or any other employee at GRMC will personally profit from the creation of a hospital district. A publicly elected board will decide how your and my tax dollars are spent. I will benefit, like other Somervell County residents, knowing that I will continue to have quality healthcare “at home.”

A quality hospital contributes to the quality of life of its community. But to remain a quality hospital, it must have the resources to maintain and update its facilities and equipment, and to keep and attract quality staff.

My experience has been that we have a quality hospital staffed with quality people. I plan to vote for the creation of a hospital district to keep it that way. It is worth far more than $10.42 a month to me. I encourage you to let your voice be heard on this very important matter for Somervell County - VOTE.

Kim Gass

Somervell County

To The Editor:

I have now seen two presentations about the proposed Hospital District by the CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center (“GRMC”). There are still no answers to many of the questions all of the taxpaying citizens of Somervell County should be asking. A few of these questions are below.

The CEO’S own presentation showing the net income of GRMC amounted to millions of dollars over the past several years, while GRMC absorbed a loss of $800,000 last year. These are the CEO’S figures. He has presented no evidence, such as an audit report, to support what he is saying. Are we, as citizens, not entitled to financial evidence of the great need for a Hospital District?

Question—-What happened to the several million dollars the CEO says was profit in the prior few years—why does an $800,000 loss in one year mean we must have a Hospital District or GRMC might close down?

Question—-I have heard the CEO say something along the line that GRMC lost the doctor whose patients provided 40% of GRMC revenue. Yet, why does the CEO’s blue handout say that revenues are down only “2-3%? If this makes sense to you, please let me know.

Question—-Why is the County unable or unwilling to provide financial statements on the hospital and nursing home? I have repeatedly asked for them from about 8 different officials and I was sent from one to another with no results. The present agreements between the County, GRMC and the nursing home require detailed financial statements be presented to the Commissioners monthly as well as copies of the audits at year end. Rather than base my vote on the words of one man (the CEO), I would rather see some evidence of the dying condition of GRMC which is being hung over the voters’ heads.

Question—-Since the CEO says GRMC showed profits for several previous years, why did the County buy hundreds of thousands of dollars of equipment for GRMC when, it appears, that GRMC could have paid for its own equipment?

Question—-Do you realize that the $14,000,000 of Certificates of Obligation (authorized by the County without a vote of the citizens) create a total debt to our citizens of over $28,000,000, including interest?

Are you aware that—-The total debt, with interest, amounts to almost $14,000 per family of four. How would you like to see this added to your credit card?

Did you know that all property tax revenues of the County are presently pledged as collateral on the Certificates of Obligation? In other words, the holders of the Certificates of Obligation have first call on substantially all County revenues even before normal County salaries, other expenses and other capital needs.

Are you aware that—-The County used up about $1.4 million of its general fund surplus in the year ended 9/30/07? I do not know the amount of the County’s deficit in the year ended in 9/30/08. Is it prudent for the County to take on the debt described above in light of its own declining financial position?

Did you know that—-The Hospital District, if approved by you, the voters, will be obligated to pay the County sufficient amounts to cover the Certificates of Obligation, plus interest. I can find no written evidence of such an agreement? In any event, the County will be directly on the hook for 30 years and hoping that GRMC and the nursing home will be able and willing to make such payments.

I understand (though I have no evidence to support this) that GRMC has failed to make the first payment to the County called for by the unwritten agreement. If this failure can be verified or dispelled, I would appreciate the facts. If true, it is not a good start in performance by GRMC.

Did you know that—-For several years, the County has leased all of the assets (land, buildings, and equipment, by my estimate valued in excess of $20,000,000) to GRMC and the nursing home for $1.00 per year? My opinion is that if present management can’t make a go of it with $20M of assets handed them for nothing, perhaps it is time to consider different management.

Questions with respect to the Meridian Clinic situation are multiple:

Who is Rose Beck and why is her organization named “Glen Rose Health Partnership”? Is it named this in order to appear that it is a part of Glen Rose Medical Foundation, Inc? Is the real name of Rose Beck’s organization “Glen Rose Healthcare Partnership, Inc”? Is this a corporation of which she is a primary investor? Who are the other investors and why is there no such entity reported on the records of the State of Texas, as required?

What is Rose Beck’s prior, present and proposed future relationship to Glen Rose Medical Center and Nursing Home?

Who are Rose Beck’s partners if the entity itself is a partnership?

As of January 28, 2009, the Bosque County News reported that Beck and her partnership had paid none of the $750,000 purchase price, including an escrow payment of $1,000 and $30,000 “…to keep the financially strapped nursing home running until the sale was completed”.

Why is it that there is no written evidence of this deal and the parties involved. According to the City Administrator of Meridian and an official of the Meridian Medical Authority there is presently no written agreement on the deal.

Why has “Glen Rose sent one of their engineers over to go over the building for me (Beck) at no charge”?

Why did Beck say “…we’ll have access to their menus and our doctor (over the nursing home) will be from Glen Rose”?

Folks, I could go on and on with questions, but I believe that you can see we all really need more information before we vote a tax on ourselves at a time when people are having financial struggles. The points are that we need more “transparency” and “accountability” in the operation of our medical facilities.

I know some of you will think me an “old sore head” or a “trouble maker” for our fine medical facilities. Such is not the case because I enjoy use of the facilities more often than most. I appreciate the service of the staff and our doctors. I realize that our medical facilities are a justifiable bragging point and drawing card for our community. Further, I do not dispute the economic benefit to our community. I simply ask that the results of operations and other matters not required by law to be confidential be made readily available to the public. These questions and many others deserve to be answered before we, as voters, can make a well-informed decision.

I believe that we should back away from the Hospital District as presently proposed, get factual answers to these and other questions and move forward with the full facts on the table.

Accordingly, I ask you to join me in voting “NO” to the Hospital District as presently proposed! The election is Saturday, February 14, 2009, at your regular precinct voting place.

Charles R. (Charley) Thomas, Sr.

Glen Rose