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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 12:10 am | Fair 45º


Hospital Leaders Support Measure S

As the administrators of Santa Barbara County’s not-for-profit acute-care hospitals, we urge voters to support Measure S and provide continued funding for the 24-hour emergency and trauma care services that serve all county residents.

Passage of Measure S is critical. The $4 million raised will be devoted to vital emergency services, and will address the loss of the $1.6 million now provided annually through the EMS Maddy Fund, which is to expire on Jan. 1. There are no other provisions for replacing this needed funding for trauma services.

This measure calls for a property tax of $35.15 per year — or $2.93 per month. It will help offset the enormous losses our hospitals face in providing emergency and trauma care to all who come through our doors. Last year, our physicians and employees treated nearly 130,000 emergency patients, the majority of them uninsured or underinsured. Such uncompensated care cost our hospitals an estimated $8 million.

Emergency rooms and hospitals in California have continued to close in recent years, challenged by the burden of uncompensated care, shortfalls in government reimbursements and, most recently, the extraordinary costs of seismic safety requirements dictated by Senate Bill 1953. This unfunded state mandate will cost more than $1 billion for our region’s hospitals.

Safe, high-quality and accessible care for those facing a medical emergency is something we cannot take for granted. Staffing our hospitals with on-call medical experts and with round-the-clock nursing and other health professionals trained in the care of the sick and critically injured will become an increasing challenge if the partial support we now receive through the Maddy Fund is not replaced and enhanced.

All of our not-for-profit hospitals — in Santa Barbara, Goleta, Santa Ynez Valley, Lompoc and Santa Maria — exist to serve their communities and will always treat those who come through their emergency doors, regardless of ability to pay. As recipients or potential recipients of that care, we all share the responsibility of assuring that 24-hour lifesaving care is available to residents of our county.

Please join us in voting Yes on Measure S.

Charles J. Cova
Marian Medical Center
Jim Raggio
Lompoc Valley Medical Center
Ron Werft
Cottage Health System

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