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February 27, 2014     The Quincy Valley Post-Register
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February 27, 2014

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6 THE QUINCY VALLEY- FORUM THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2014 I00OSt-Heg ister Solution to hospital's debt problems is getting tougher with 'dead beats" GUEST EDITORIAL BY GEORGE NUTTER After reading time and time again how our hospital is going broke, perhaps we should look at another way of solving this problem. We need a hospital and emergency room; however, it appears, we can't afford both without some outside help. I understand as a community we owe $3.5 million to Grant County. The county says it has extended the hospital's credit limit twice and that we are $1 million over our credit limit again. This must stop. I suggest that the city and hospital district approach the county commissioners with a request that a $10 tax to be added to the tick- et prices for events at the Gorge Amphithe- atre. This tax would then be returned to the ambulance, hospital, local police and Fire District No. 3 to offset the increased costs they incur. If we need to get autholqty for this added tax, at a higher level, now is the time, be- cause the Legislature is still in session Let's break this down. Let's put $5 to the hospital, $1.50 toward lhe ambulance and $3.50 split between the Quincy Police Department and Fire District No. 3. The hospital needs to make copies of any identification presented at the time the service is rendered. Ask questions about the patients. Where are they from? Get an address, date of birth, social security num- ber. Run the social security number through E-Verify. The first three digits of the social security number are the state where the card was issued. Now you have a start as to where this person might live, or at least lived at one time. The hospital is already ob- taining health information concerning prior treatments and allergies. Make this a part of the triage. Don't settle for the "I have no ID," especially if they have been drinking. I know the Gorge cards. Call the police if he or she has no identi- fication. You are correct there is no require- nent to carry any form of ID, but once you ,ek a service or product, and that service or lroduct requires a valid form of identifica- ion, than a whole new charter opens. The person being treated could be wanted and have a warrant out for his or her arrest. He or she could be a missing person. There is any number of reasons why people hide their identifies. None of it is good. Have someone from the billing depart- ment on staff during these events to begin verifying this information right then. The hospital, from a liability issue, needs accurate health and personal information. When people present a false ID, or no ID, and this information was given to relieve them from the obligations and services pro- vided by the ambulance service and hospi- tal, than a crime has been committed. RCW 9A.56.040, to paraphrase, reads, "any service under $750 is Theft 2 and a class C felony anything over $1,500 is a class B felony." When the person is transported by ambu- lance to the emergency room and admitted to the emergency room for treatment with false ID, you've met the requirements for the above. This theft isn't just against the hospital but against all rate payers in the hospital dis- trict. The $3.5 million owed to the county isn't going away; we all are going to pay. The other avenue is to close the emer- gency room and let Columbia Health care take it over. They seem to have plenty of federal and state money, and, if they didn't, at least we would stop the drain on our tax base. This hospital does a great job of triage and stabilizing patients, but most are sent to Wenatchee, where they have a bigger lab, X-ray department and specialists. There is going to come a time when we are going to lose the emergency room, may- be even the hospital, if very pro-active rem- edies aren't started. The rate payers can't keep sustaining these kinds of losses. Please don't come back, with a plan for a new hospital. We can't afford the one we have now, and you can't borrow yourself out of debt. Take the gloves offand start playing hard ball with the dead beats. Garnish wages, lien property, file criminal charges. We need to move offcenter if we ever hope to save this important service for our growing commu- nity. George Nutter serves on the Quincy Valley Cemetery Commission. He was on the Quin- cy City Coundl for eight years and the Grant County Civil Service Board for three years. He served 33 years in law enforcement, the last 23 years with the Washington State Patrol. Nutter has lived in Quincy 36 years. Jill FitzSimmons Editor Kurtis J. Wood Sports Editor Tracey Law Bookkeeper Sunshine Didra Ad sales Copy editor Tammara Green News Writer Jessica Blancas Graphic Design Letters to the editor The views expressed in the letters to the editor are not necessarily, those of the Quincy Valley Post-Register, its staff and ownership. Yearly subscriptions are: $27.50 in Grant County, $30.50 outside Grant County, and $37.50 outside of Washington state. Free to customers in Quincy, Crescent Bar and George. The Quincy Valley Post-Register is published weekly by Quincy Valley Media, Inc. 305 Central Ave. S., Quincy, WA 98848. Postage paid at Quincy, WA. Postmaster, send address , changes to: The Quincy Valley Post-Register P.O. Box 217 Quincy, WA 98848-0217 USPS No 453-080 Telephone: (509) 787-4511 FAX: (509) 787-2682 Emil: We can learn from the Skagit River bridge replacement BY DON C. BRUNELL The news these days is filled with stories about Big Bertha, the stalled Seattle water- front drilling machine, and the cracks in the pontoons of the new SR 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington. You might won- der if Washing- ton's Department of Transportation (WashDOT) is doing anything right. They are. For example, the replacement of the collapsed I-5 bridge across the Skagit River between Mount Vernon and Bur- lington is an ex- ample of how Don Brunell WashDOT engi- neers and private contractors can move quickly to design and complete a major transportation project with minimal traffic disruption. Here's what happened. On May 23, 2013, just after the evening rush hour, a semi-truck carrying an oversized load of oil drilling equipment slammed into the supports of the 58-year old bridge. About a third of the four-lane bridge plunged into the river. Two vehicles fell into the water, but the three people in those cars were rescued by boaters. Miraculously no one was seriously injured. State transportation officials went to work almost immediately. Traffic engineers worked through the night on detour routes through the streets of Burling- ton and Mount Vernon for the 71,000 vehicles that use the bridge daily. Within 24 hours, a contractor was hired under an emergency con- tract to remove the collapsed span, and began working with WSDOT engineers to install a temporary span to get the interstate back open. The temporary span was up and operating by June 19. On June 18, the state awarded a $6.87 mil- lion contract to Max J. Kuney Construction of Spokane, one of our state's oldest and most respected contractors, to design and build a permanent replacement span. The design was completed on July 9 and construction began three days later. The replacement bridge was built alongside the temporary span without in- terrupting traffic, and moved into place during an overnight closure on September 14-15, 2013. The Skagit River bridge replacement is an example of how things can get done quickly and effectively. Yes, this was an emergency and we cannot expect that breakneck pace on a regular basis. But surely there is something we can learn from this extraordinarily success. ful project - something lawmakers and elected officials can use to reduce the protracted de- lays that cost motorists and taxpayers billions. Traditionally, major transportation projects in Washington seem like a bureaucratic blood sport. They spark months or years of criti- cism, accusations, public hearings and debate from all sides. We call that "input." On occa- sion, people who don't get their way file law- suits, causing further delays. That's followed by months or years more of design and permit review. We call that "process." There must be a better way. Of course, pub- lic input is important, but there comes a time when we have to stop talking and get moving. Endless "process" needlessly runs up the costs of these projects, and hinders transportation improvements that bring environmental and economic benefits. Lawmakers, state transportation officials and private contractors should come together to analyze what made the replacement of the Skagit Ridge Bridge such a resounding suc- cess. Then they should identify ways to trans- late that success to everyday transportation projects around the state- whether by stream- lining permits, utilizing the faster "design and build" construction process, or expediting reg- ulatory reviews. The Skagit River Bridge project was a stun- ning success. Let's leam from it. Let's make it possible to have successes like that every day of the week. Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as presi- dent of the Association of Washington Busi- ness, the state's oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver He can be contacted at WHERE TO WRITE In Olympia: Gov. Jay Inslee Office of the Governor PO Box 40002 Olympia, WA 98504-0002 Dist. 12 Representatives Senator Linda Evans Parlette 316 Legislative Building p.o. Box 40412 Olympia WA 98504-0412 Brad Hawkins 122G Legislative Building P.O. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600 Cary Condotta 122B Legislative Building p.o. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504-0600 Dist. 13 Representatives Senator Janea Holmquist-Newbry 109A Irv Newhouse Bldg P.O. Box 40413 Olympia, WA 98504-0413 holmquist.janea@leg. Matt Manweller 206 John L. O'Brian Bldg p.o. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504 matL Judy Warniek 421 John L. O'Brian Bldg P.O. Box 40600 Olympia, WA 98504 In Washington D.C.: Senator Patty Murray 173 Russell Senate Office Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20510 Senator Maria Cantwell 464 Russell Senate Office Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20510 Representative Doc Hastings 1323 Longworth House Office Bldg. Washington, D.C. 20515-4704 ......... ........ ........ _ ..... ,= ............