Commissioners outline health care plan

The Morrow County Commissioners are providing this update to Morrow County residents regarding their recent Request for Proposal for Expanding Health Care Services.

A proposal to operate the Morrow County Hospital without need of tax support levy ($1.4 million per year), with commitment to invest $2.44 million into our facility, and in doubling the current number of 200 hospital employees, was recently received from the Avita Health System. Further discussions with Avita Health Services indicate at least a $20 million benefit to Morrow County over the next decade compared to the existing arrangement.

Should the Morrow County Hospital Board of Trustees vote to close our hospital under the terms of the agreement that they recently signed with OhioHealth, that agreement forbids the County Commissioners from using our current facility for any medical purposes over a two-year period. Such an interruption of medical service would permanently revoke the Hospital’s designation as a Critical Access Hospital (CAH); a loss that could permanently end full-service hospital care in our county.

Congress authorized the Critical Access Hospital (CAH) designation through the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 to prevent more rural hospitals, like ours, from closing. The designation provides for a higher reimbursement rate being returned to CAH hospitals than otherwise allowed. It is unlikely that we could maintain a fully functioning hospital without that designation.

Closing the Morrow County Hospital would put 200 employees out of work and would be a tremendous personal blow to those employees, as well as to the economies of Mount Gilead — the Village’s single largest source of income tax revenue – and to all of Morrow County.

Alternatively, the impact of doubling the number of current staff employed at the hospital — alone — would be a major boost to our County’s economic stability.

On Aug. 27 an invitation was delivered to the Morrow County Hospital Board to confer about this proposal. As of today, two weeks later, that request remains un-acknowledged. A public discussion of these issues is needed to make clear both the ramifications of closing our hospital, and in understanding that one path likely leads to the loss of hundreds of jobs, and the other path will add hundreds of jobs. These major implications call for public discussion and preparation for the aftermath caused by choosing the wrong path.

Burgess Castle

Warren Davis

Tom Whiston