A new hospital can be a bargain
Saturday, July 21, 2012View full version
There is no escaping the fact that health care is expensive, and its ever-escalating cost is dragging us down. Under this circumstance you don’t toss more community wealth into the health care pot unnecessarily. There are times, however, when necessity and sense combine and call for investment. In the Lake Chelan Valley, it is time.
Lake Chelan Community Hospital is proposing to build a new hospital, at a cost of $30 million. Part of this will be paid by grants, donations and reserves, and $19 million with bonds financed by a local property tax levy. The 25-year bond issue would come to about 50 cents per $1,000 in assessed value. For a $300,000 house that’s $12.50 a month. The issue is on the Aug. 7 primary ballot mailed last week. A 60 percent yes vote is required for passage.
For health care and hospitals, it strikes us that this falls under the bargain category. The current 40-year-old, 44,000-square-foot Lake Chelan Community Hospital sits on some rarefied lakeview real estate. It is cramped, outdated, lacking in space for everything from mammograms to parking. This, while its patient base grows and modern medicine adds new techniques, requiring space, almost daily. To be fully functional it would require significant upgrades, which may not be cost-effective, hospital officials say.
The new site is already paid for, at the Apple Blossom Center, across from Walmart. The site is spacious and fairly flat. The new building will be 77,000 square feet, nearly double the size of the old. There will surely be plenty of parking, if that makes a difference. There also will be private rooms for patients, a larger emergency room, larger birthing rooms, more rooms for surgery, physical therapy, labs, radiology.
It’s time. The average homeowner will be paying less per month for this modern hospital than most people pay for vitamin supplements. Vote yes on Public Hospital District 2 bonds for a new hospital. This is an opportunity not to pass by.
Would you contribute a few dollars a year for something as basic as a community swimming pool? Certainly you would. It’s a place to learn to swim, to cool off, to pass summer days, to expend excess youthful energy in a safe and supervised place. There is a lot of value in that.
On the Aug. 7 ballot, residents of the Upper Valley Parks and Recreation Service Area (Leavenworth and environs) have a chance to approve a maintenance and operations levy for the community pool. Repairs and maintenance are a part of pool ownership, and the levy will cover increased costs not possible to pay for with increased admission prices. A yes vote will add 11 cents per thousand to tax bills, or about $7 a year for a $200,000 home. Keep cool. Keep the pool. Vote yes.
Residents of Chelan County Hospital District 1, Leavenworth and Lake Wenatchee, fund emergency medical services — ambulance and the emergency room at Cascade Medical Center — with a property tax levy. The levy must be renewed every six years, and it is on the Aug. 7 ballot. The cost remains steady at 50 cents per thousand. It passed with 89 percent of the vote six years ago, since people realize better investments are rare. That is true today. Vote yes.
This is the opinion of The Wenatchee World and its Editorial Board: Publisher Rufus Woods, Editor Cal FitzSimmons and Editorial Page Editor Tracy Warner.