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Keep our top-rated hospital locally controlled

OTHER VIEWS

Ocala, FL - November 4, 2012
Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 6:30 a.m.

There has been much misinformation published and aired on the Munroe Regional Medical Center tax referendum by an out-of-town lobbying group. This group wants to influence our local issue, which will not impact them, but could severely impact the citizens of Marion County.

First and foremost is the cost of the referendum to the Marion County homeowner. Based on information from the county Property Appraiser's Office, 75 percent of Marion County's homeowners will pay less than $62 a year ($5.17 per month) for five years to keep our community hospital under local control. Fifty percent of Marion County homeowners will pay $25 or less. The out-of-town lobbying group is trying to scare you into believing that it is much, much more.

Munroe is owned by the people of Marion County ... that is you! Decisions about the hospital are made by local people who understand our community and its needs. Their board meetings are conducted in the sunshine and under the public records laws. That is local control. If Munroe is leased to a for-profit corporation for 40 years, as is proposed, that local control will be gone. Do you want that to happen?

Munroe is the only safety net hospital in our community, and the only one which serves mothers, babies and children. Do we want future decisions about the services offered at our community owned hospital made by people who live and work here, or in some out-of-state board room by a board of directors who do not know our community and whose priority is maximizing profits for their investors?

Munroe's number one objective today is quality care, and it is an exceptionally well run hospital. You don't have to take my word for it. The evidence is readily available. Munroe offers the highest quality and lowest costs. Look at the statistics published by the Fitch rating agency and other rating organizations. It is efficiently run with outcomes for quality in the top 1 percent and costs in the lowest 12.5 percent nationally. That's true excellence.

For those results to be achieved, Munroe is employing exceptional people, people who are excellent at what they do, dedicated to their work, and who are achieving the best possible outcomes for their patients. Their positive results have been established time and time again by quality and performance measures.

The for-profit hospitals want to lease Munroe for 40 years — that's two generations, and we might as well say forever. Yet they have only committed to offering employment to these fine employees for one year. Folks, that means a loss of jobs. Jobs this community cannot afford to lose.

Turn to the last item on the Nov. 6 ballot and let's use our voice and vote yes for bonds to keep our hospital locally owned, locally controlled and with quality care for all as its number one objective.

Lynette Vermillion is general manager of On Top of the World Communities and is a former member of the Marion County Hospital District Board of Trustees.

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