Hospitals in Mogadishu aren’t great and in Syria they are routinely bombed, but in America even low-education voters understand that hospitals are a public service as vital as police, fire, water and Twitter.
Fortunately, Sonoma Valley Hospital is a good one, and Measure E will provide a necessary $55 increase in the annual hospital parcel tax to help keep it healthy.
But whenever our hospital asks for help – which isn’t often – there are those who insist we don’t need to spend money on a hospital because (wait for it) there are other hospitals much farther away. “Who needs it,” they demand, “when other hospitals are an exciting 30-minute, fun-filled ambulance ride to Napa or Santa Rosa, sirens wailing and EMT’s pounding your chest!?”
They’d have us believe the $55 parcel tax increase for the hospital (15 cents a day more on the current tax bill) is Tyrannical Government run amok. But for anyone who owns taxable property in Sonoma Valley, 15 cents is chump-change. When Measure E passes, the total hospital parcel tax ($250 a year, or 68 cents a day) will still cost less than household garbage pick-up.
Of course, no tax increase is justified if it isn’t necessary, but this one is. For example, it’s well known that reimbursements the hospital receives for serving Medicare and Medicaid patients do not always cover the cost of providing those services. Yet thousands of Valley residents use those programs to pay their hospital bills.
While providing first class care, the hospital also keeps a very sharp eye on costs. Safety tip: never ever get between hospital management and a stray nickel. But when prudent cost cutting still isn’t enough, a smart community covers the shortfall.
It certainly does if it values Emergency Room service, and our Valley does. SVH sees around 10,000 emergency patients a year and ranks in the top 25 percent of hospitals nationwide for patient satisfaction. But ER capability is a big expense and SVH’s ER is no exception. The law requires ER’s to be attached to a hospital with surgical and other capabilities. A stand-alone Urgent Care Center – a ‘doc-in-a-box’ — is not an ER or a hospital.
The law also requires ER’s to treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Depending on one’s politics, that’s either Socialism (!) or compassion at its finest. Either way, when a Lego wedges in little Tommy’s windpipe or Granny breaks a hip, the ER is there 24/7/365. “Yes on E” will help support the hospital, its ER and its many healthcare services described at http://www.svh.com.
Obviously, good healthcare also requires doctors and the hospital is a big reason the Valley has a lot more doctors than, say, Pisgah, Alabama. Doctors like having a hospital nearby so they can send and tend their patients there and have access to lab tests, imaging, skilled nursing help and other complexities vital to a 21st century medical practice.
Those who think they’d be financially ahead if Measure E fails should consider how far and fast the market value of their property could drop if the Valley is suddenly many miles from quality medical care instead of mere minutes.
Finally, if an extra $55/yr. seems a lot, consider that the hospital with its ER also provides hundreds of the best-paying jobs in the Valley. Local spending by the hospital, its suppliers and its many employees support countless other jobs in other local businesses.
Ask your doctor if Measure E isn’t right for you, and the whole family.