Task force is the answer
When an irresistable force meets an immovable object … well, you know what happens. Boom!
That’s where the Harrison County Hospital CEO Steve Taylor and his board of directors are headed with Gary Davis and the Harrison County Council. These two strong-willed “bodies” are on a collision course over the future of the hospital and medical care in Harrison County. Taylor and his forces want to build a new $33 million hospital and medical office complex in a new location with or without county funding. Davis and his forces say wait a minute, we need more information. We aren’t sure the county hospital can build a new county facility without the financial support of county government.
There’s a better way.
Taylor announced recently that the hospital has gone ahead and purchased 38 acres between the Corydon-Ramsey Road and S.R. 337 south of Interstate 64. It’s a great location for public image purposes, and it’s a fair location for patient and emergency vehicle convenience. A lot of road improvements will need to be done. It’s an expensive location because it’s in demand ($650,000, or $17,000 per acre, but even if the hospital doesn’t eventually build a new complex there, it could probably sell the land to a developer later). More advantageous property elsewhere would have cost much more.
Anyway, the 50-year-old hospital on Atwood Drive is land-locked, unable to expand and worn out, despite many great new additions over the years. To remodel the hospital and bring everything up to speed would probably cost about as much as building everything new with all the latest state-of-the-art equipment. It’s not easy to find HCH, even with a helicopter.
Over the past few years, HCH has done a great job of attracting many new family physicians and some specialists. In addition, other specialists come in periodically to do their thing. Other, more difficult cases, like open heart surgery, are sent to the bigger hospitals in Louisville, including Jewish Hospital, which has one of the best heart surgery programs in the world.
HCH is our community hospital, and we think it’s a great little community hospital that needs to grow to keep up with the demands of modern medicine and the very real threat of outside competition. We want it to continue to be a great community hospital, one that can meet most everyday needs. Yes, we know, some misguided people call HCH a “band-aid station.” There will always be some people who remember when Uncle Bob or Grandma Jones had a problem at HCH and, consequently, they never fail to bring it up. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who were born there or whose lives were saved there. You never hear about that. We all know people who have received instant, expert, personal care at HCH from people they know and trust. (I, for one, like the idea of walking over to the hospital for my annual colonoscopy.)
There’s no reason why we can’t have a great community hospital and medical office building, as Steve Taylor and his board have been planning for years. However, it needs financial support, and, thus far, the county council, led by Davis, is unwilling to jump on the bandwagon, and the hospital shouldn’t count on casino revenue. Davis, quite correctly, says the council is not in the medical or hospital-building business, and needs more facts and information, if not downright guidance. Well, guess what? They could easily find all of that.
Here’s what should be done. Wise heads need to sit down and talk. There doesn’t have to be a big confrontation between big egos.
Follow the suggestion of councilman Carl Duley and others and organize a task force to meet periodically – and soon – to gather facts, information and philosophies, listen to proposals from big hospitals, and make a decision based on consensus. The task force should consist of some council members, Steve Taylor and his financial guru, Jeff Davis, some doctors, a member of the nursing staff, and someone from the Corydon Town Council.
We see nothing wrong with affiliating with a larger hospital, like Jewish, Alliant, Norton or whomever. HCH has had a working relationship with Alliant for years, and it hasn’t hurt. A large hospital can provide deep financial pockets, all kinds of expertise, from training to management and specialty medicine, but it doesn’t have to have majority control. A good working relationship with a larger hospital could prevent another chain from starting a medical clinic and siphoning off all the non-Medicare business. A robust local hospital will continue to attract good young doctors, provide local state-of-the-art services at a moment’s notice, and, perhaps most importantly, show the rest of the world that in Harrison County we’re serious about good local medical care.
It won’t hurt to talk about these things.