Time for hospital to continue to grow

Posted: Thursday, September 02, 2010

When my family and I moved to Soldotna in 1968, I was manager of NBA in Soldotna and I became a member of the local Hospital Board with a facility that was unfinished, non-operative and defunct. I was on the Board that sold the facility to the borough and I was also the banker who transferred the delinquent SBA guaranteed Hospital Loan from the defunct organization to the borough. Since that time, my wife and I have volunteered our time and our money to help with medical services for community members in many ways including serving on the Central Peninsula Health Foundation Board.

Since we sold the facility to the Borough, it has grown into the facility we have today and we are extremely proud of that facility and its operation. Now it's time to move on and go forward to turn this into a Regional Health Care Facility that folks from all over the state would like to come to for treatment. The hospital needs management and decision-making flexibility so that it can provide the needed medical services including major capital improvements. That's impossible under our present system. First they have to go to the Hospital Service Area Board, then to the Borough Assembly (where political desicisons get made, not business decisions), and after that a vote of the people could be required.

I support the separation of the Hospital from the borough because:

1) Decisions regarding capital expenditures take way too long and that forces our residents in need of healthcare not available here to go elsewhere for treatment including cancer radiation and cardiac care, among others.

2) The healthcare industry is now a major contributor to our local economy. Do we want that to increase or decrease? Do we want high quality doctors and medical providers to move into our community or move out?

3) I don't want to pay taxes to keep a hospital alive that provides only minimum services and sends patients to Anchorage or elsewhere to get treatment for those services that our hospital cannot provide. Wouldn't it be better to receive tax revenue from a thriving Regional Medical Facility that provides needed medical services to our community, funds itself, pays good wages and contributes to our community similar to other large businesses in our area?

4) Do we want 100 percent local control, or would we be satisfied with 50 percent local control if we have a Regional Medical Facility that has the financial resources to develop new services that our residents need?

5) What government run facility do you know that runs efficiently, effectively, economically, provides great customer service and is a major partner in helping our communities?

For these reasons, I believe that the time for change is now.

Pat Cowan, Soldotna

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