[Readers’ forum] Save the hospital


August 12, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Since the first of this year Allen County commissioners, committee members, consultants, and citizens have been trying to decide what to do with our hospital, and to some extent, healthcare in Allen County in general.
Our hospital and its infrastructure are old, outdated and in need of serious repair. Our patient base is decreasing; patients are going to other hospitals around us, all who have rebuilt or remodeled. Our medical staff’s average age is over 50; recruiting new family practice physicians, a general surgeon, and an orthopedic surgeon is im-probable if not impossible with our present building and dwindling patient base.
Three years ago two separate consultants suggested that a new hospital be built in an effort to begin ad-dressing the problems outlined above. They suggested that if nothing was done, our situation would get worse. On Aug. 2, another group of consultants drove home the point that our healthcare situation in Allen County has continued to deteriorate. Their opinion:  unless we do something immediately about the outdated hospital building, Allen County Hospital probably will not survive another seven to 10 years.
Just last month, we received news that Haldex Brake Corporation will close this year and all its employees will lose their jobs. The closing of Haldex is a devastating blow to our community, and yet there were warning signs. For several years our community watched as first one portion of the plant was moved to Mexico, then another, and then yet another. There were signs of a future closure, but there was nothing our community could do.
As a community we can do something about the future of our hospital.  We can choose to think of Allen County Hospital, not only in terms of the healthcare it provides, but also as 160 employed members of our community. This time we don’t have to sit around and watch another business wither away and close. We have the ability to make a difference, to preserve not only our hospital, but also the jobs it generates.  We can choose to build a new hospital.

Brad VanRiette
Iola, Ks

October 21, 2010
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