Have thoughts on the proposed surgical center? Share them

For months we've been hearing about whether or not a recently proposed Kenai-based ambulatory surgery center would be a good addition for the community.

Kahtnu Ventures has said the idea would allow for a needed expansion of services that can be done at a lower cost than currently performed. Central Peninsula Hospital has argued the idea would be an unnecessary duplication of services and result in a loss of one of the more profitable service lines it offers.

The issue has deeper, slightly more political roots -- it has become about state's role in making such decisions, the borough's role as owner of the hospital, the principles of free enterprise applying to the health care industry and the role our hospital will have in the community's overall future.

It is a lot to digest.

Frankly we're not sure where we stand -- we've wrestled with the merits and consequences thoroughly.

But we know many in the community have opinions about the matter and next week they will be afforded an opportunity to vet them.

It is all well and good to have opinions about the center, but it doesn't do any good to only tell your neighbor or co-workers.

We would encourage all residents to attend, listen and testify at a state-hosted public meeting scheduled for 5 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19 at the Challenger Learning Center in Kenai.

Residents can also write to:

Karen Lawfer
CON Program Coordinator
Division of Health Care Services
P.O. Box 110660
Juneau, AK 99811
907-465-8616
karen.lawfer@alaska.gov

The comment period on Kahtnu's application closes on Jan. 23.

On Tuesday, the assembly will also take up the issue, but all public testimony heard will be influencing their letter to the state, which as of now opposes the center.

We recognize that is also a precarious position to put the assembly in as they have a duty to protect the borough's assets. But at the same time it isn't necessarily the borough's role to control or limit private business.

We're still deciding on that one, too.

But here is what we do know -- the beauty of this situation is that no one voice will have a greater influence than another. It is a community proposition and therefore the community holds the decision.

Just like a vote, your testimony is important because, like it or not, you or someone you know will be affected. Health care decisions shouldn't be taken lightly in a growing community.

So, take it on as a duty to read up on the proposals and the arguments both sides have made and let the state know what you think. If not, we'll have to live with the fact that someone else is making our decisions for us.

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