Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Greenville gets "Burned"

An "Old Friend" writes:


There may be some ego play in the closure of the Burn Center, but financial concerns must be the number 1 priority.

The Burn Center leaked money and its primary fundraising arm was, in my opinion, forever tainted by the long-time embezzlement by a long-time official. Top it off with locals "going to bat" as character witnesses for the convicted and you've cemented a measure of distrust for a non-profit fundraiser.

Next, review the local political leadership response to the official fundraisers. The car show was considered "dangerous" despite the fact that locals caused the trouble. Shame on the media for not making that more clear. Shootings are more damaging than excessive or underage beer drinking in hotel rooms. The concentration of the car show patrons on one boulevard made them easy to police - if there were adequate policing strategy (for that, I don't know and never inquired).

Other fundraisers either failed or "only a portion" of proceeds were directed towards the Burn Center - an unknown, non-public portion not obtainable by the general public. Granted, the Burn Center, as a state facility, should've been funded by state dollars and NOT solely been a center funded through donations and, more importantly and primarily, Washington County tax dollars. The local tax base cannot support losing millions per year in the name of preserving civic pride.

This isn't a defense of the King's Daughters purchase. It's separate. The burn center, if it's separate, should've been financed separately. The "regular" DRMC facilities should absorb the conquest of the competition. That said, one hospital had to go - the community couldn't maintain it. With KDH failing in overtaking DRMC, we'll never know IF it could've performed better and become a destination hospital for local patients despite having to absorb the indigent patients that seemed to come to DRMC over KDH.

Armchair quarterbacking is great spectator sport. But, the facts are that the Burn Center received those patients who often couldn't pay or were subsidized at levels below what could keep a Burn Center operating. With it in Jackson, we all should hope the state funds it. The next question, if state funds flow forth in generosity, is why Greenville wasn't deserving in the eyes of Legislative leaders and the "rank and file." And, don't accept the pass the buck excuses from locally elected state leaders. After all, they jump through hoops for likely to be sparsely attended "community centers" and museums.

Thanks old friend, but I think we are missing one salient point in this debate. If we accept the premise that every business or public service that is "losing money" should be shut down, then DRMC should have been pad-locked five years ago!

And then there are Medicaid and Welfare... both of which are well into the "red", so should we shut the doors on those programs as well?

At the end of the day, there are valid reasons why all of these "businesses" don't operate in the black; most of which stem from gross mismanagement, corruption malfeasance and greed. The common elements that sustain these entities are ignorance and apathy from citizens who would rather "settle" for the status quo than strive for something better.

We turn on the news and see Ray Humphreys touting that he has secured HUD money to pay off the hospital's debt and enhance services. Duh? HUD money is a low interest ferderal LOAN program... not a grant. In essence, he has borrowed millions of federal dollars to pay off "nervous" local lenders who were duped into fronting him the money for the KDH debacle.

DRMC is still drowning in debt with little hope for the future. The only difference is that now Ray won't have to look the local lenders in the eye at Rotary Club or the First Baptist Church.

Praise be to Ray!



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Local Reflector said...

No one can argue greed, ego, ignorance or apathy are critical ingredients of your argument and the fact of the situation.

I must say that I believe DRMC was profitable earlier this decade and that it held a nine-figure savings account. Something led the local lenders to "invest" in the county hospital. Now, using the words "investing" alongside "county-run hospital" is another tangent altogether.

I can't speak for "nervous" local lenders but conclude that HUD's loan interest rates would be a better choice of leveraging the hospital's debt. At least, that's a correct move. But Medcaid reimbursement cutbacks will really choke DRMC. It paid (when I was in the area) high salaries to recruit doctors - some of whom only scheduled a handful of procedures a year. So, the old financial albatross returns to the nest.

You really can't debate the really can't. At best, you can interpret the landscape and see where the economy and society are taking us and assess whether you really want to be along for the ride.