Support for our hospital

To the Editor:

I want to thank our democratically-elected, volunteer board of trustees of Hamilton County Public Hospital doing business as Van Diest Medical Center for performing their public duty. Sometimes they must make difficult or unpopular decisions. If our hospital is to thrive, we need to support and believe its decisions have our best health in mind.

I feel it is disrespectful for local business leaders and city officials to imply that this group of dedicated, local citizens made its recent decision without regard for property taxpayers and current or future citizens.

Van Diest Medical Center, a critical access hospital, is focused on serving our community, but it doesn’t provide every known medical service for many important reasons. Why is there no outcry over “driving business out of the county” with those other types of patients? Because it is inappropriate to do so.

Unlike many other communities, Webster City still has many independent doctors. Interestingly, Dr. Donald Woodhouse, Dr. Joseph Latella, The Gabrielson Clinic for Women, and McFarland Clinic have chosen to provide limited services or no services at all for their own patients at our local hospital. Their decisions affect our hospital, its employed physicians, and its financial bottom line.

It appears that the national physician shortage, declining Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, and increasing malpractice insurance costs are now affecting our community, too. Therefore, our community needs to discuss how to attract physicians both in specialties we have today and those we want in our community tomorrow.

Ryan Rippentrop

Webster City

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