Vote to protect vital part of community

  • By James Swenson, Jim Congdon and Michael Eickerman
  • Friday, April 19, 2013 1:34pm
  • OpinionCommentary

Fractures, hip replacements, trauma injuries from accidents on U.S. 2, breast cancer, colon cancer, appendicitis. When you need emergency or lifesaving care, we can treat you at Valley General Hospital.

But today we’re writing a different kind of prescription for your care: A yes vote on Proposition 1.

Valley General has been a vital part of our community for over 50 years and is an asset we should protect. Patients often get lost in bigger facilities, but at Valley General we provide state of the art medicine in a family atmosphere. That kind of care is what attracted us to this community and has kept us here year after year.

Proposition 1 asks voters to approve a modest increase in the hospital levy from 14 cents per assessed thousand of home value, to 37 cents per assessed thousand of home value, the first increase in more than 20 years. For the average homeowner with a home worth $200,000, that’s about $6 a month for continued access to care close to home.

Our vote to increase the levy comes at a key moment as we implement our new partnership with Evergreen Health. This affiliation will advance care through increased services and access to more specialists. As a public hospital, Valley General answers to taxpayers and it serves our interests instead of those at a corporate headquarters. Having a local hospital gives people the freedom to choose where they receive care.

But care at Valley General is at risk and our choices will be limited if the levy does not pass and we lose emergency, trauma, and inpatient services at the hospital.

The ripple effect on our community would be significant.

Our patients and their families would have to travel up to 30 minutes away to receive care. It’s beneficial to have care close to home and near the support of families, particularly for our patients who are receiving cancer treatment or having surgery. If we lose inpatient and emergency care our patients would be left to travel over the trestle and first responders would bypass Valley General for hospitals further away.

The hospital supports our practices and without a flow of patients who need our care, we would likely be forced to close our practices to be closer to the hospitals which provide those services. The oncology, orthopedic, and general surgery care we provide would likely vanish in absence of a local full service hospital.

The hospital and our practices are also an important economic boost to towns throughout Snohomish County, employing hundreds of nurses, health-care workers, and ancillary staff for our private practices, in addition to the pharmacists, physical therapists, and other service providers who provide oxygen and meet other medical needs.

As homeowners, we also receive additional home value from having a hospital so close to our doors, and the hospital attracts other small businesses that support our local economy.

Valley General provides resources that cannot be replaced and should not be lost.

Our votes on Proposition 1 are a vote on continuing our emergency, trauma, and inpatient care, but also on our choice of healthcare options and our ability to expand to bring more specialty care to our towns.

There shouldn’t be any prescription easier to fill than this one — vote yes on Proposition 1.

Dr. James Swenson, orthopedic surgery; Dr. Jim Congdon, oncology; and Dr. Michael Eickerman, general surgery, are local physicians who provide care at Valley General Hospital in Monroe.

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