By way of introduction, I am a member of the St. Luke's Medical Center
Community Council and a resident of the Wood River Valley. However, I am writing this on
my own and not as a representative of the council. Your "Memo to St. Luke's: stop
the whining and threats," published in the July 4 Mountain Express
was the inspiration for this response.
I was surprised that you would write such a critical piece for public
consumption, without verifying the accuracy of the facts on which you based your
criticism. Allow me to offer another view of the issues included in your memo. The
following facts are offered for your consideration:
In view of this background, it's inconceivable to me that
the county P&Z members, when presented with the final plans for their consideration,
said they'd never heard of the MOB. In my view this represents gross negligence on their
part. Obviously, everyone connected with the hospital was stunned by this rejection.
I imagine [St. Lukes chief executive] Ed Dahlberg's reaction was
triggered by disappointment and frustration not only by this problem but also by the
cumulative effect of years of difficulty in dealings with the county that have added
millions of dollars of additional costs to this facility.
I can put your mind at ease that the citizens who made this project
possible do not feel that St. Luke's has treated them as boobs. I can also assure you, as
a contributor to the hospital fund campaign and as a member of this community who worked
earnestly to help raise those funds, that the overwhelming majority of locals who made the
cash contributions to build this hospital share the same sense of frustration and are in
complete sympathy and agreement with Ed Dahlberg's reaction and statements to the county
It's the county P&Z board who is treating its citizens like boobs, not
St. Luke's. The P&Z's dilatory and negative approach to issues surrounding the
construction of the hospital and the MOB is putting the future health care of the entire
community in jeopardy. To paraphrase a statement made by one of the county commissioners,
"It's time we switch from finding issues of why it can't be done to finding out how
to make it work." That's excellent advice.
It's important to keep in mind that the hospital is not some entitlement
due our community. Many seem to forget that the hospital represents a $33 million gift to
our community. It's not costing the citizens of our county one-penny in taxes or
assessments. Nor will a tax be incurred if the hospital loses money; that's St. Luke's
However, if the imposition of unreasonable requirements sets the hospital
up to lose money, St. Luke's has not contracted to bear those losses indefinitely. That
reminder to county officials was long overdue.