Hereís why I donít plan to sign the hospital district petition, or vote for a hospital district if an election occurs:

1. My husband and I built our dream home in Somervell County and planned to retire here because we like living in the country, the county has many amenities for a community of its size -- an excellent golf course, a great library, well maintained roads and yes, a hospital. Only the hospital has failed to live up to its billing. Iíve been fortunate not to have had critical health issues, but if I were to have a stroke, heart attack or a broken leg, GRMC could do little more than stabilize me and send me on to Fort Worth or Arlington. And not that this is a problem for me, but GRMC canít even deliver babies!

2. The current hospital authority board and supporters of the hospital district would like to add capacity for oncology, cardiac, imaging services, etc., presumably because this would be attractive to retirees, who generally have more frequent and more serious health problems. The question is: If GRMC is operating in the red today, how can it support expanded services, especially when one considers that most of the revenue for these services would come from Medicare? What would the hospital districtís tax rate have to be to support this strategy?

3. Iím not sure what efforts are underway on this subject, but apparently Somervell County/Glen Rose are looking to become a ďcertifiedĒ retirement community. Hereís the paradox: Retirees consume more healthcare resources than younger, employed individuals, yet their property valuations are frozen at age 65. How is it fair for young, employed individuals to subsidize retireesí healthcare? Maybe the bigger question is what will a hospital district tax rate have to be when Comanche Peakís valuation continues to drop, and we have no other commercial or industrial entities to take up the slack?

Put simply, the arithmetic doesnít work. Over the long haul, we canít support -- fiscally or physically Ė the kind of grand design that hospital district supporters envision.

What I could support is this: A kind of scaled back, super clinic that is the healthcare home to the whole community. We are blessed with many dedicated primary care providers here, even some general surgeons. GRMC is a great place to go for a colonoscopy, a mammogram, and other non-acute services, and it would be a place to start for more serious healthcare, where primary care doctors could coordinate care for everyone from babies to seniors. I would even support an idea that was raised at a commissionersí court meeting a few months ago: a wellness center based at GRMC that would include a fitness/rehab area and a pool, because I believe it makes sense to invest in helping people stay fit and healthy (and Iíd like to be able to swim all year). Can we talk about whatís doable and sustainable?

Judy Nawrocki