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Letter to the Editor

“Entrusted with peoples’ lives, we are committed to provide, enhance and preserve the healthcare of our community with compassion, dignity and excellence.”

This is the mission statement of Ashland Health Center (AHC). The ideals and values encompassed in these words have guided us to this historic point in the life of our community. It was over six decades ago when leaders and visionaries realized this community not only needed but deserved the best healthcare possible in a rural environment and built what we now know as Ashland Health Center. Then as now, there was a belief that those who choose to live in a rural community which proudly produces the food that feeds this country and world, in fact deserves the best healthcare we can provide. In the 59 years since, much has changed at Ashland Health Center, our community, in healthcare overall and across our country.

We have come to understand, on good authority, that the facility that has served this community so well for so long has reached the end of its lifecycle. Advances in medicine and improvements in standards of care have evolved to the point where our facility can no longer meet the required regulations. While the AHC staff does an excellent job at making it work, and the patients have been gracious and understanding, the effort spent in augmenting a failing facility is no longer a practical use of time, energy and money. These valuable community resources could better be spent serving our families and neighbors with the quality you deserve. In order to maintain and even improve the level of care that we provide, the AHC Board of Directors will be presenting options to the community with a recommendation to construct a new healthcare facility that is appropriate to the needs of our community.

So we find ourselves at another pivotal, exciting and even frightening juncture. As our forefathers did then, we have ahead of us decisions that will impact our community for decades to come. We have reached this point prepared. It was almost 10 years ago that the AHC Board of Directors, administrators and staff began asking the questions, leading us to where we are now. Over the next several weeks there will be a significant amount of information for you to examine. It is critical that all of us in the community consider the full facts. This information will be made available and discussed through the following planned avenues:

•Public meetings

•Printed materials

•Up to date answers on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and other information online at the AHC website /

In addition to these planned opportunities, please consider inviting an administrative staff or board member to your next organizational gathering or meeting. And of course catch an AHC staff member or board member(s) to ask more details. There will be much to absorb and process, and while it seems daunting, we all have a responsibility to be educated on the subject as well as possible, before we act.

Then in May 2015 there will be a public vote to decide how to proceed. This vote will pertain to the formation of a Public Building Commission (PBC) by the Ashland City Council. The Council has made it clear that they will not endorse a PBC without a mandate of the voters. The PBC is required to continue forward with the process of constructing a new facility. While a vote at this juncture is not legally required, it was decided on by the AHC board of directors over six months ago that this vote will take place as it must be the will and direction of the people to determine if this project proceeds.

Several other key points to be aware of:

•The current published resolution regarding a $14.6 million public bond is a legally required step just to kick off the process. On its own, the AHC board of directors will not raise taxes for the purpose of building a new facility without a public vote to indicate the approval of the district.

•Although the total cost of the proposed project will be in the $15 million range, the community will only be asked to shoulder approximately 20 percent of that cost. In short, the reason this is possible is through the extraordinary efforts of our staff, our architectural firm, and guidance from the Great Plains Health Alliance. Collaboratively, we were able to craft a facility that is efficient and cost-effective. Because of key design features and transitioning the entire facility to acute and swing bed, 80 to 100 percent of the cost will be paid through a significant enhancement in our Medicare reimbursement rate. This is exciting news. Such a transition is possible because AHC finds itself at just the right size and services to maximize the contribution from Medicare to the point where the community will have only a small financial liability. Not all communities are able to do this, however several have and we will be talking with you about them over the next few weeks and months.

Obviously, there are many more details that need to be shared and we are excited to be able to explain to you what has been learned. As members of the greater Ashland community, we have a fire in our hearts to see this town and county not only survive but thrive. We truly believe that the efforts of many have resulted in an option that will best serve our community as it deserves.

Moving forward, we invite you to ask questions and state your concerns. We are eager to share the facts and our hearts. When all is said and done, the decision will be made by all, together. We each owe it to ourselves, to those who have come before, and those who will come after to actively seek the truth and to vote with that in mind come May.

Respectfully,

The Staff and Board of Directors of the Ashland Health Center

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Ashland Health Center625 S. Kentucky St.Ashland, KS  67831

p. 620.635.2241f. 620.635.2229

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