LETTER: County can’t afford to lose health centerI have worked as a family physician in New Richmond for 33 years. During that time, hundreds of my patients have received care at the St. Croix Health Center. I also make rounds at the St. Croix Health Center.
To the Editor:
I have worked as a family physician in New Richmond for 33 years. During that time, hundreds of my patients have received care at the St. Croix Health Center. I also make rounds at the St. Croix Health Center. I feel the care is outstanding and the health center’s Five Star Federal rating is well-deserved.
In 2008 St. Croix County residents voted almost two to one to keep the health center. Since that time, the county subsidies have dropped from approximately $1.2 million to $330,000. Our former administrator, Frank Robinson, was well on the way to eliminating subsidies entirely. Only a federal survey mandated building update led to most of our current level of subsidies this year. Concessions by St. Croix Health Center employees almost accomplished what seemed unthinkable in 2008. It continues to be the goal of our current administrator, Cindy Anderson, to be off subsidies.
In an environment where job creation is at the top of most politicians’ wish list, can we really afford to lose 202 jobs at the health center and the $12 million economic impact it adds to our county? The St. Croix Health Center also takes county patients who are money-losers due to expensive medications and therapies. These patients would have been turned down by most nursing homes. Wisconsin Statues Chapter 55 mandates the county to care for certain Medicaid patients. The cost of paying another facility to care for these patients would almost certainly exceed the current level of subsidies.
I am hoping for a resounding “Yes” vote on the St. Croix Health Center resolution on April 13. I am confident the administration will continue to work to eliminate or minimize subsidies. We will have a much harder time accomplishing that goal if uncertainty about the future of the Health Center persists and families of future residents chose other facilities.
Bruce Hanson, M.D.