How Can We Insure the Future of Healthcare in the Community?

(Posted February 12, 2010)

The public is invited to attend two community forums scheduled by Plumas District Hospital for Wednesday, February 24 at 6 pm and again on Tuesday, March 9 at 6 pm in the conference room at the Plumas County Library, 445 Jackson Street, Quincy.

 

"Plumas District Hospital is very important to our community both in terms of healthcare and as an economic engine" said Richard Hathaway, CEO. "Rampant rumors about taxes and finances over the past several months have obscured the most important and vital question: how can we insure the future of health care to the community? We look forward to continued community involvement and strongly encourage community members to attend." 

 

In addition to community forums, Plumas District Hospital has arranged for several hospital facility tours that will be offered during February and March. Tour guides will provide insight from both a facility and nursing perspective. Reservations are required. Contact Dan Brandes at 283-7104 for times and availability.

››View Event Poster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Members of our Community,

(Posted January 13, 2010)

We wish all of you a happy new year. 2010 will mark the 51st year that Plumas District Hospital has provided the highest quality health care to our community. We hope to continue meeting your health care needs for the next 50 years. Measure A was passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2008. Some members of the community have circulated a petition to put a proposed tax limit initiative on the ballot to amend Measure A.

››Read More

Important Questions and Answers Regarding Measure A

(Updated January 19, 2010)

This section features new questions and answers in response to additional community concerns regarding Measure A and Plumas District Hospital’s intentions going forward.  If your question is not included, please feel free to contact us at information@pdh.org.

Q. Some in the community are circulating a petition to put a tax limit initiative on the ballot, which would amend Measure A, passed by voters last year. Would the hospital be able to make needed improvements if this proposed new initiative passes, since it would limit the assessed rate at $50 per 100K assessed value?
Q. Did PDH mislead the voters by stating the maximum tax on the hospital bonds would be $87.30 when it’s now apparent it could be much higher?
Q. One reason Measure A was passed was to seismically retrofit the hospital as required by the State by 2013. Now that the deadline to retrofit the hospital has been moved to 2030, why is it necessary to spend Measure A bonds now?
Q. What improvements need to be made in order to provide better healthcare and insure attracting new, capable physicians?
Q. How are these improvements going to benefit patients?
Q. What are the costs to make these improvements?
Q. What does the $20 million dollar cost cover?
Q. How is it going to be financed?
Q. Is the $20 million dollar cost extravagant?
Q. Because the assessed values of property increases two percent each year, will actual Measure A tax bills be five times what it is now?
Q. Why can’t the board set a cap on what the district property owners will pay?
Q. Will people lose their homes over the additional tax?
Q. Because of additional Measure A taxes, will property owners be able to sell their homes?
Q. Why did the hospital not choose to utilize a flat rate per parcel or an increase in the sales tax?
Q. What is the chance of a new hospital closing and homeowners being forced to pay on it forever?
Q: How is PDH different from other rural hospitals, many of which are in the red, closing their doors or both?
Q. Will the hospital set up an advisory committee to monitor taxpayer bonds and report to the board?
Q. Will the hospital use local businesses for construction?

 

Q. Some in the community are circulating a petition to put a tax limit initiative on the ballot, which would amend Measure A, passed by voters last year. Would the hospital be able to make needed improvements if this proposed new initiative passes, since it would limit the assessed rate at $50 per 100K assessed value?
A. No. That rate would only allow us to issue approximately another $2 million in bonds, $10 million or more short of what is needed. If the initiative passes it would probably mean that we do nothing and the hospital would likely close in the next 10 to 15 years.

Q. Did PDH mislead the voters by stating the maximum tax on the hospital bonds would be $87.30 when it’s now apparent it could be much higher?
A. No. The information presented in our special election voter’s information guide was prepared precisely according to accepted legal standards, and the same as other municipal bond measures throughout California. The numbers presented in a voter’s guide are always estimates, which may be invalidated by changes in interest rates and other factors.

Q. One reason Measure A was passed was to seismically retrofit the hospital as required by the State by 2013. Now that the deadline to retrofit the hospital has been moved to 2030, why is it necessary to spend Measure A bonds now?
A. Aside from seismic retrofitting, there are many improvements that must be made to the hospital to insure its long-term viability. The facility is definitely facing the end of its optimum use. A new facility will both facilitate quality care and help to ensure the existence of a hospital in Quincy for another fifty years. One of the most important drivers of PDH’s success has been the quality of our doctors. Not only do quality physicians inspire confidence in our patients, they help us to attract the best nurses, administrators, and support staff as well. In order to continue to attract good doctors we must provide an adequate healthcare facility for them to practice in. Capable young physicians simply are not interested in moving their family to a community with an old, broken-down hospital, especially if the community votes to rescind the bond measure needed to build an upgrade.

Q. What improvements need to be made in order to provide better healthcare and insure attracting new, capable physicians?
A. The emergency department and operating rooms are the bread and butter of a hospital. The projected hospital will include a five-bed emergency room with fully private rooms. There will be two operating rooms so a second smaller operating room is available to handle life-threatening emergencies – especially obstetrics – if the other room is in use. The hospital will be a two-story building with modern, advanced technology. The bottom floor will include the new emergency department and the operating and recovery rooms. The second floor will include a modest number of patient rooms including two special maternity rooms.

Q. How are these improvements going to benefit patients?
A. The quality issues explained above will be a significant upgrade to patient safety, privacy, and infection control. Almost all rooms in the new building will be private with their own bathroom. This allows for isolation of infectious patients and brings our procedures up to current standards. Patient privacy will come up to current standards, while slip resistant flooring, accessible handrails, and modern fire and life safety systems also will improve patient safety. Nurses will have enhanced capability to monitor patient status improving both safety and quality.

Q. What are the costs to make these improvements?
A. The costs are estimated to be between $20 million and $21 million dollars. Every effort is being made to reduce costs as much as possible and stay closer to the $20 million figure.

Q. What does the $20 million dollar cost cover?
A. $15 million will cover hard construction costs for the two-story structure. Additional costs include medical equipment, fixtures, furniture and other infrastructure necessities as well as professional fees.

Q. How is it going to be financed?
A. $15 million in bonds will be borrowed by the District, and the balance funded through hospital borrowing, capital reserves and charitable contributions.

Q. Is the $20 million dollar cost extravagant?
A. Other communities that are similar to our size are building $40 to $50 million dollar hospitals. Our project is adjacent and connected to the old hospital and takes advantage of some of our existing space. We are being conservative and only making those improvements necessary to insure the long-term viability of the hospital and healthcare services in our community.

Q. Because the assessed values of property increases two percent each year, will actual Measure A tax bills be five times what it is now?
A. No. If assessed values stay normal at 4.75% growth (the 10 year average historical growth rate) over the life of the bonds, the payback on bonds is set up so property owners pay a similar or lower amount each year in actual dollars. See Hypothetical Tax Scenario for more details.

Q. Why can’t the board set a cap on what the district property owners will pay?
A. The hospital is already attempting to borrow and bear as much of the cost itself as possible. Capping the tax would add additional risk, which could actually cause the hospital to fail. We are continuing to research all possibilities that might help to limit the taxpayers’ risk, such as insurance or a contingency fund.

Q. Will people lose their homes over the additional tax?
A. The estimated cost per year has been subject to much speculation and has become wildly exaggerated. The Board of Directors and Administration have prepared several documents to help clarify concerns about the annual cost of property taxes for the next 30 years.
History of Measure A Interest Rates and Tax Assessments
››Click here to view

Analysis of Alternative Bond Structures and Funding Options
››Click here to view

Hypothetical Tax Scenario
››Click here to view

Q. Because of additional Measure A taxes, will property owners be able to sell their homes?
A. The amount of extra tax is not likely to affect a buyer. In almost all states other than California there is no cap on assessed values so the taxpayer has no certainty as to what their property taxes will be. In California, due to Prop 13, our assessed value rate is limited to grow two percent a year and an assessed value of one percent.

Q. Why did the hospital not choose to utilize a flat rate per parcel or an increase in the sales tax?
A. It was fairer to use the price per $100,000 value. A flat rate parcel tax would tend to hurt those who are retired or who have lower incomes. An increase in the sales tax does not generate sufficient money. Further, it is bad for local businesses which is bad for our community

Q. What is the chance of a new hospital closing and homeowners being forced to pay on it forever?
A. The core features of successful rural hospitals are: quality physicians and nurses; astute, fiscally competent administration; geographic remoteness; and ongoing provision of a core group of essential services including obstetrics and basic surgery. When a small hospital loses any of these critical assets it becomes at risk of red ink and eventual closure. We at PDH are determined not to allow that to happen and believe that the size and uniqueness of our community weigh strongly in favor of ongoing success with a new facility.

Q: How is PDH different from other rural hospitals, many of which are in the red, closing their doors or both?
A: PDH has a long tradition of providing outstanding rural healthcare to the community. We’ve been named one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation and are accredited by The Joint Commission of Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. We continually strive not only to provide excellent care in the areas we can handle, but to expedite safe transfer to the best high-tech medical centers when the situation is beyond our capability. This has resulted in our maintaining the overwhelming respect and support of our community. In turn we have remained financially solvent and successful.

Q. Will the hospital set up an advisory committee to monitor taxpayer bonds and report to the board?
A. The Measure A Oversight Committee was established in October of 2008 to ensure that money from the bonds is used appropriately. The committee consists of five members of the community who are residents and property owners. The committee reports to the hospital governing board. The meetings, held at least quarterly, are noticed in
accordance with the law, and are open to the public.

Q. Will the hospital use local businesses for construction?
A. Our project manager has developed a business plan to maximize utilization of local businesses.