Editorial: Helping the hospital

Staci Matlock
editor@taosnews.com
Posted 3/12/20

Taos County commissioners made the right call Tuesday morning (March 10) in voting to increase the gross receipts tax and committing the revenue to Holy Cross Medical Center. The commission also was right to press Holy Cross administrators to communicate as clearly and effectively as possible with the community about the hospital’s finances on a regular basis.

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Editorial: Helping the hospital

Posted

Taos County commissioners made the right call Tuesday morning (March 10) in voting to increase the gross receipts tax and committing the revenue to Holy Cross Medical Center. The commission also was right to press Holy Cross administrators to communicate as clearly and effectively as possible with the community about the hospital’s finances on a regular basis.

The tax helps the hospital without putting the financial burden solely on the backs of property owners through a mill levy. Voters will decide in November whether to renew a mill levy to support the hospital. The mill levy should be renewed. Holy Cross deserves ongoing community support.

As a rural hospital, Holy Cross faces a multitude of challenges. It has one of the highest rates in the state of patients admitted to the emergency room for drug overdose treatment. It has a high percentage of patients on Medicaid and Medicare – meaning a lot of patients who are low income, seniors or disabled and have limited resources.

Like most rural hospitals, Holy Cross has to compete with other medical facilities to attract top-notch health care professionals. The hospital has to convince those professionals – and their families – that the pay, living conditions, schools and amenities make Taos the best choice.

Facing those challenges means keeping the whole community involved and educated about what is happening at the hospital. That will continue to be the responsibility of Holy Cross, its administrators and its board of directors – most of whom are local. This is crucial if Holy Cross must keep returning to the communities it serves to ask for financial help. If it takes a village to raise a child, it also takes a village to ensure its community hospital stays open.

Here are a few recommendations for the hospital:

The hospital has its federal financial forms on its website, but only through 2017. It should put the 2018 forms up immediately, and the 2019 ones as soon as possible, in addition to the 2019 audit when it is available.

The board should have a short bio on each member so that people will understand the expertise and local knowledge each brings to the table to help advise hospital administrators.

The hospital must resolve lingering problems in its billing and collections department, issues pointed out by numerous patients. Resolving those issues could go a long way in helping the hospital’s finances.

Once or twice a year, the county and the hospital should together, with other interested partners, host a community gathering to give an update on how Holy Cross is doing, let people know about new programs and talk about community health.

Here’s how the community can help:

Holy Cross has a lot of information on its website. The community should make time to read what is there and ask for what isn’t posted.

Thank hospital staff every chance possible for the work they do. Many of them could make more money elsewhere and live in a less expensive place. They choose to make Taos home.

Vote in November to continue the existing mill levy for the hospital.

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