To the Editor-
In dissecting fact from fiction a crucial human element is sometimes discarded. As in a story published in this paper’s last week edition about the faith of our County Health Care Center.
Nearly 100 years ago members of our community created a center for the less fortunate when most health care was administered in the home. A time when the burden was completely upon the community to serve our elderly without the aid of any social programs.
During that same time there was a movement to open a hospital with a cornerstone proclaiming itself to the proud people of Stevens Point. A private endeavor that failed and was given to a non-profit religious order stating it purpose was serving the poor. Today we see that hospital with some of the highest fees in the country.
Another element to this story is a convent serving its retired sisters after decades of devotion. A religious order that rooted its foundation in our community and has provided jobs to some of our neighbors. But today the number of sisters at the convent is dwindling and the faith of the order’s existence in the community is in question.
Our world of today is much different then that of yesterday. Today beds are certified and mandated that no more beds can be created. The care center has 100 of those beds. Some of our elected officials are offering 60 beds to be given away along with ten million dollars to a non-profit out of Milwaukee. A question from a supervisor asked where the ten million amount came from? There was no discussion on what will happen to the remaining 40 beds.
When the burden of financing the care center changed with the creation of Medicare and Medicaid the center was forced to become an enterprise. No one can be turned away even if they were not from the county. Today, out of the 72 residences at the center, three do not reside from Portage County.
The question of what to do with the outdated care center building has been kicked around since 2002. At that time a study was done where updating the facility would cost fifteen million dollars. At the meeting it was said that through a referendum the present facility or another site could be picked for our County Health Care Center. Where the people of Portage County maintains the control of the 100 beds and decent paying jobs to those that serve the center.
In attendance at the meeting was our representative serving in Madison. She explained much of our problem financing the health center is caused by our state government. Bed tax revenues are forfeited and deposited into the state’s general fund. Medicare expansion is rejected because of principal. A problem that even a private or non-profit would endure when operating a health care center.
We need to keep control of the center in the hands of the citizens it serves. It will cost a lot less than financing a jail.