Local officials: support your local hospital
Generally, I try to respect the decisions we lay off on our elected officials, especially those decisions that rise out of the often messy budget-setting season. Property taxes or services? Services or property taxes? However, I have to break ranks following last week’s headline about the Putnam County Board of Commissioners’ proposed cut of support for Putnam General Hospital (again), this time to $150,000 a year.
My disagreement is about access to medical care, both for me and for some of my neighbors, especially when speed counts.
One, when I came to Putnam County almost two decades ago, the county government was meeting its legal obligation to the local hospital (for “indigent care”) with $500,000 a year. That amounted to about 4 percent of the hospital’s $12 million in revenues – that’s money in the pocket, not billings – necessary to keep the doors open. I don’t know what the hospital’s revenue requirements are today, but I am sure it is more.
Likewise, I do not know what the county’s combined general fund and capital (SPLOST) budgets are today, but it would not surprise me at all if they are not double what they were 20 years ago, probably somewhere in the $20 million range. That proposed $150,000 for the hospital would certainly be less than 1 percent of the total.
Two, that legal (not to mention moral) obligation is hazy, and it is – and has been – a target for cost-cutting county commissions all over the state. It is not just Putnam. I understand. I get it.
But out of pure self-interest, I come down on the side of services in this one. I am retired. Fixed income. Don’t like paying taxes and still haven’t met anybody who did. Talking to the squirrels. The whole bit.
But if I have a heart attack . . . if I whack my hand open slicing a tomato . . . if I need lab work done . . . if I get run off into a ditch by some chucklehead who just has to pass on a double-yellow . . . I want the assurance I can get medical attention in 10 minutes or so. Not 40. Not an hour or more. And I am willing to skip a couple of Happy Meals to get that assurance.
A rebuke to Dudley’s column
Dear Mr. Bill Dudley,
As a Rabbi and the Rabbi of Lake Oconee Congregation Chai, I am writing this for myself.
I read your column in the Lake Oconee News (and The Eatonton Messenger) on August 17. You, I think, were trying to be humorous. (As one who has preached for almost 45 years, I can tell you that humor must be used very carefully). However, your words about Israel were offensive and, indeed, misguided. This is especially sensitive, because Israel, born out of the Holocaust, is very precious to the Jewish people.
As one who has visited Israel seven times, allow me to make the following points.
1. Israel is not a “flee infested desert.” It is a varied land of cities, lakes, mountains, forests, and, yes, sacred desert space.
2. It has “bullet holes “ on the Gaza border, because of having to defend its people against the relentless attacks by Hamas terrorists.
3. If you had knowledge, you would know that no one says “Wailing Wall” anymore. Since Jews can go there now since the great victory in 1967, it is now called the Western Wall.
4. Why would you call the Mount of Olives “creepy?” It is beautiful place in Jerusalem with sacred sites including lovely churches.
5. And why would you in a subtle way mock Jerusalem? It is the eternal capital of Israel, where our US embassy has recently been set up at the direction of President Trump.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Rabbi Ronald Gerson