July 31, 2013 Edition

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Vote FOR two hospital issues

John Bland

We need our hospital. Lawrence County voters will determine its future in the Aug. 13 special election, with early voting starting Tuesday.

There are two issues on the ballot.

  • One ballot issue is for or against adding a half-cent sales tax until 2023 to help fund the operation of Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

  • The other issue seeks to extend an existing half-cent sales tax to help fund the operation of Lawrence Memorial Hospital. The current half-cent tax is in place until 2015.

    If both measures pass, the one-cent tax would be in place until 2023.

    Just like most of you, I don't like paying taxes. However, the federal government has reduced the amount of money it is paying for local healthcare. If we want local healthcare, we must pay for a larger portion of it.

    Lawrence Memorial Hospital could close its doors if the tax referendums fail to pass.

    Like many of you, my family and I have our own stories regarding the hospital's vital role in our healthcare history and why we want it to stay open.

    Here are a few more basic facts provided by Junior Briner, vice president of support services:

  • Lawrence Memorial Hospital is licensed for 25 beds, while Lawrence Hall Nursing Center is licensed for 189 beds.

  • In the past, Lawrence Hall helped supplement the income of the hospital. Because Medicare/Medicaid (or the Federal government) is now funding services that make it possible for people to live at home longer, the nursing home census is down. Therefore, when one enters the facility, the average nursing home patient is in need of greater care.

  • Lawrence Health Services is pursuing the building of an assisted living facility to meet the growing need for this intermediate level of healthcare.

  • Lawrence Memorial Hospital has been named the Critical Access Care Hospital of the year in Arkansas for four years in a row.

  • Although our hospital does not offer serious procedures and operations, such as heart surgery, it does stabilize patients until they can get the major operation or care they need.

  • Sharp County has lost its hospital, and two other counties in North Arkansas are in jeopardy of losing theirs.

  • Lawrence Health Services has an annual payroll of almost $8 million, and therefore, is vital to our local economy.

I urge you to vote FOR both ballot issues on or before Aug. 13.

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