From members of the Liberty County Hospital District 1 board
We want to thank everyone who attended last night’s meeting in Dayton to discuss the proposed new hospital and clinic for our community. This marked the 10th public forum to discuss this opportunity, and provided a great way to answer questions and address speculation and confusion that may have circulated in advance.
Please allow us to discuss the proposed hospital site. In planning for a new hospital, a team of healthcare planning and real estate experts evaluated multiple properties within the boundaries of the district that might accommodate the facility. The current commercial development dynamics in Dayton greatly limited the available options for a 10-15 acre site within the Hospital District boundaries to locate a new hospital, and the ancillary services and offices that will ultimately follow. Similar difficulties are going to be experienced by any other healthcare system evaluating an acceptable sized site in the immediate Dayton area.
Also, the present and projected population growth of Dayton is a factor, but needs to be considered relative to the population of the district and the county as a whole. The Hospital District has the responsibility to serve a great number of people as conveniently and safely as possible. Our commitment to serve Dayton residents is why we are locating a new clinic just north of downtown Dayton that will provide extended weekday hours and weekend hours for routine exams, urgent care, imaging and laboratory services.
It should also be recognized that planning for a new hospital is more complex compared to other types of development. It’s not just the number of surrounding rooftops, retailers or car dealerships that is key, but rather having the proper amount of available land for future healthcare services as well as convenient and safe access for emergency vehicles, helicopters and the general public. The hospital district is fortunate to have received a donation of a 35-acre site in the central part of the county for this new development, providing room for the future at no cost to the district or taxpayers.
And on the subject of the Hospital District’s financial stability, we are proud to state for the record that the current hospital is not losing money. In the most recent fiscal year, the district earned more than $1 million in what might be considered profits (all while dealing with the pandemic). The district has not lost money for the past decade. While it is unlikely that a for-profit or non-profit healthcare system would develop a hospital in our area in the near term, if they were to, the profits would be sent back to their places of origin or corporate headquarters and not reinvested in our community. The Hospital District has and will continue to reinvest those revenues back into the operations of the hospital to improve and expand services to better serve our community.
The critical need for a new hospital is not based on finances. Rather it is based on acknowledging the aging nature of the current facility, with infrastructure that can’t be replaced or repaired and the reality of a landlocked property in a predominantly residential neighborhood. For these and many other reasons, Proposition A & B makes sense, both operationally and financially, to benefit our community.
The District and the Hospital participate in a number of vital programs supported by the State and the Federal Government. These are called Supplemental Payment programs. Among these is the DSRIP program that has generated more than 1 million dollars for the hospital each of the past ten years. And the Uncompensated Care program (or UC) that generates about a half a million dollars per year for the hospital. The District also participates in a big state-wide program for nursing homes called QIPP (or the Quality Incentive Payment Program). The District partners with 26 of the 900 nursing homes that participate each year. The program has grown considerably and many of our neighboring districts participate as well (including Chambers County Hospital District/OmniPoint Health and the Winnie-Stowell Hospital District). Based on improved quality performance in these nursing homes, the District and our partners earn several million dollars a year that is put back into these nursing homes and our hospital.
We also have been asked what happens if these programs go away. The State does have programs phase out and new programs begin over time. The providers in the state depend on these programs and the industry works closely with the State to ensure that these programs continue, and that new ones are created when old programs phase out. The QIPP program is relatively new and the only program of its kind for nursing homes. We understand that the state is very proud of this program and we expect it to continue for a long time to come. If any of these supplemental programs were to phase out, we will work with our partners to make sure we participate in whatever replacement programs are created.
Throughout this process we have heard from many citizens that are grateful for our hospital and support our efforts to replace a very old facility. We are grateful for your continued support. This District and this hospital are yours, and we are accountable to you. We hope that some of the energy applied to this project from both sides continues after this election cycle. No matter what side of this issue you may fall, we’re proud to call you neighbors and we love this community just like you do.