1. A faith-based organization would be supported by tax funds
It’s early on in the process, but the news that Saint Louise Regional Hospital in Gilroy is telephone polling about a tax initiative to provide steady income for the hospital is thought provoking.
A local hospital is a vital service to the community in so many ways, yet there are a number of questions any ballot tax initiative would raise. The obvious one is providing public dollars for a private facility, one that is managed no less by a faith-based Catholic organization, the Daughters of Charity. Questions will extend to hospital policies that the community may or may not support in the privacy of the ballot box. An example: treatment for all who come to the emergency room regardless of whether the health situation warrants costly emergency treatment.
2. Unquestionably, public dollars would lead to governance issues
As hospital spokesperson Jasmine Nguyen pointed out in an email, “Last year, we saw over 26,000 patients in our emergency room, 3 times the national average for a hospital our size.” But why is that exactly?
There will also be issues involving governance and oversight. If public dollars support the hospital, what kind of scrutiny will be available to the public? Will there be a hospital board that is given some authority regarding operational oversight?
The hospital has been very guarded in its response to questions. That is disconcerting and awkward given that the hospital relies on the good will and support of the community that this effort might be aimed at.
Perhaps it’s just early initiative jitters given the touchy subject nature: money.
3. Hopefully, an extensive public outreach campaign is planned
Saint Louise officials plan to begin to share the results, and presumably the details of a possible Gilroy sales tax plan, with community leaders in about two weeks, according to Nguyen.
Joanne Allen, the president and chief executive officer, hopefully has an extensive public outreach campaign planned and, just as importantly, will make it a priority to be available to answer questions.
There will be tough questions and how those are handled will go a long way with regards to whether or not the community would support a tax measure.
There’s hardly enough information to make any determination at this point. Saint Louise Hospital provides very important services to the South County. It’s our health care hub, attracting physicians, holding events like health screenings for breast and prostate cancer, and serving the community in desperate emergency situations.
Its financial health is key to our community’s health. Details are critical. The more Saint Louise officials can shed light on the situation, the more community members will become engaged. We look forward to those details.