Letters (Nov. 16, 2011)

MES students hear mixed messages

Marion Elementary School students recently sat through the opening of ?Cinderella,? which was held at the Marion High School Auditorium.

The queen asks the king which wine would be best to serve at the ball. The response given by the king was that his beverage of choice was ?beer,? which drew a wave of laughter and applause from the young audience.

How sad, considering the week before these same students were the target group of a ?Just Say No to Drugs? presentation and parade through downtown Marion.

Ethan Walker

Marion

Super Committee could hurt hospital

As many of you know, the recently adopted Budget Control Act of 2011 required the formation of a group of 12 congressional leaders to evaluate and recommend several deficit reduction options.

The so-called ?Super Committee? has been charged with putting together a recommendation for a series of federal spending changes that will reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years.

One of the proposals being considered is the elimination of the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation for those CAHs that are 15 miles from another hospital.

St. Luke is only 10 miles from Hillsboro Community Hospital. Therefore, if this recommendation is adopted by the committee and passed by Congress, it would strip St. Luke?s CAH designation and reduce our annual Medicare reimbursement by a whopping $1.1 million.

This would be devastating to St. Luke and the service we provide. I have listed below the likely steps we would need to take for our survival:

1. Double the mill levy. To avoid a default on our bonds payments and closure of our facility, we would have to increase our mill levy by 100 percent.

2. Close vital services like Home Care and our emergency room. Even with the increased tax revenue, we would still need to cut nearly $400,000 (or 10 percent) from our operating budget. This would result in the elimination of services such as Home Care, emergency services, cardiac and pulmonary rehab, skilled-nursing services, and reduce services in the lab, physical therapy and nursing home.

3. Significantly reduce staff. It is estimated that we would have to terminate 10 to 15 full-time employees.

4. The indirect economic impact on Marion and the surrounding communities is estimated at a negative $3.3 million per year.

As you can see, these cuts and reductions will be devastating to St. Luke. It will also question the long-term viability of our health care system that we have worked so hard to improve.

I am asking for your help in letting our congressional delegation know the devastating effects this policy will make on St. Luke, our community, and most importantly, our patients and residents.

Please share this with anyone who has an interest in St. Luke. It is most important that the Super Committee hear from us before Nov, 21.

The congressional offices have asked that we direct comments to their websites at these addresses:

? The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (Supper Committee),deficitreduction.gov/public/;

? Tim Huelskamp, U.S. representative, forms.house.gov/huelskamp/webforms/zipauthen_contact.shtml;

? Jerry Moran, U.S. senator, at moran.senate.gov/public/ index.cfm/e-mail-jerry.

Thanks for your help.

Jeremy Armstrong, CEO

St. Luke Hospital & Living Center

Marion

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