This is in response to a letter to the editor dated June 27, 2018, by Mark Nelson of Wofford Heights. I have lived in the Kern River Valley since 1976. My wife was born here in Wofford Heights before the hospital was built. I have worked for the healthcare district for 26 years and I am a property owner in the community. To indicate that this community does not need the “expensive overhead” may not be totally thought out on Mr. Nelson’s part. A good deal of my salary is injected back into this community in the form of grocery shopping, supporting local eateries and shopping at the local hardware stores. Along with 250+ other employees that live and work in this community. Most of the real estate agents in this community will tell you that healthcare in the community is one of the first questions asked when people are deciding to move here.
Mr. Nelson has written his letter to downplay the importance and the need for a hospital upgrade. I am going to take this opportunity to correct his article as it has some very misleading and incorrect information. In his first sentence, he indicated that the taxpaying population denied the tax increase, what he doesn’t know is that the district did receive greater than 51 percent in favor of the tax. The community continues to support increasing taxes to improve the school district, but, since 1968, the hospital has never received an increase to its tax rate. In fact, we currently receive approximately $245,000.00 per year from the property owners in this community to offset costs. This is one of the lowest levels of tax support in the state. This amount does not cover a single, two-week payroll.
In my line of work (Registered Nurse for 25 years) we have a saying, “Time is Muscle.” This saying is critical when considering the cardiac patient, the stroke patient and many other emergent patients that come through our doors. To date we have, “reversed” the effects of a number of stroke patients with the upgrades placed in the ER in the last few years. This would not have been possible without the stroke robot that currently resides in our emergency room.
To his point regarding the space requirements for the waiting rooms and the patient care areas. The Office of Statewide Healthcare Planning and Development (OSHPD) mandates requirements for spaces within a hospital building that are required by Title 24 in the building code. For Mr. Nelson to imply that he knows what is required by state code is irresponsible and dangerous. The “state-mandated” seismic upgrade to which he is referring is a requirement that was legislated by SB 1953 in the early nineties. This seismic requirement will also impact 400+ other hospitals in California before the fast-approaching deadline in 2030.
I will be impacted by the tax measure as well as many of my friends. In this instance, we need foresight to support this and keep our hospital open, not hindsight, regretting that we didn’t support the measure.