Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sam Pendleton is Right on the Money

A Guest Editorial by John Q. Health-Care-Consumer

The people of Lauderdale County and Florence deserve better than what they are being fed, and they have no idea of the workings behind the scenes by the two opposing hospitals to keep RegionalCare from building a new facility. One only has to ask themselves what HH and HKH have to fear from RegionalCare replacing their aging outdated structure which they currently occupy. Sam Pendleton is right that the battle has been one sided. After the new Shoals Ambulance Service in Muscle Shoals was essentially, but temporarily, shut down by strong arm tactics from the HKH administration, and behind the scenes wrangling by HH (the puppet master), people began to see how things were going to play out.

As HH pours more and more money into HKH there is no way for them to recoup their losses except by eventually acquiring that hospital and its employees. Currently HH owns or operates every hospital in north Alabama with exception of Moulton, Russellville, and the former ECM. They have already made a play for Moulton, essentially sealing the corridor across north Alabama. Having seen this type of widespread acquisition before, I can tell you the next step. These outlying hospitals become feeder units for the big HQ in Huntsville. You start to lose essential services and they maintain a few beds and an ER. It requires transport of the more critically ill patients a long distance, and in an emergent situation time is precious.

I for one do not want to see the Shoals lose its access to good quality care. There is only one hospital on the north side of the river serving Lauderdale county and portions of the southern Tennessee counties. Pendleton is right, unless the city and the county stand up to these bullies we stand to lose a great deal, which not only includes access to medical care but the economic stability the presence of this hospital brings to the area. Business leaders should make sure that they consider what is at stake.

As I understand it, the certificate of need board (CON) meeting is scheduled to be held in November here in the Shoals. Strategic placement of one of the board members has already been accomplished by the forces opposing the new hospital and it will be an uphill battle. However, the only logical decision  by this board will be to allow the construction since it is a replacement, not a new facility, and it includes surrendering a number of beds to the CON.

For once I can agree with Mr. Pendleton, it is time to take a stand and make the facts known.


It's also been pointed out that many of the TimesDaily articles enumerating hospital activities don't feature events at ECM. Their recent article on volunteers at HKH is a prime example. According to a very knowledgeable source, ECM has basically the same program and a much larger volunteer staff. This source feels the TD's bias has become very transparent.

We have to agree and we have to ask why? Why is Shelton Publishing so intent upon featuring HKH to the exclusion of ECM/RegionalCare? Why does the Colbert County Commission seek to exclude Shoals Ambulance? Why do Rhea Fulmer and Fay Parker seek to prevent a bid on ambulance service for Lauderdale? The answers, if we ever get any, should be most interesting.


The Connection has begun a new series on the ambulance situation in Colbert County. We hope their investigative staff can come up with some rationale for the 911 board and commission's recent actions.


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