BOH just doesn't get it

Thursday, March 22, 2007

We cringe as we watch the Cherokee County Board of Health's laborious effort to prevent the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors from locating the Public Health Department under the auspices of the Cherokee Regional Medical Center as a cost-cutting process.

We cringe as we watch certain BOH members' petty personal conflicts of the past taint their judgment and guide their actions.

We cringe as we watch the Supervisors, who are elected and mandated to govern this county, stand by helplessly as the convoluted issue plays out at warp speed because resolutions and solutions must be found and nailed down before the beginning of the new fiscal year on July 1.

We cringe as we watch the BOH desperately seek suitors to operate the PHD, including tentatively committing to contract with a Sioux City corporation (Careage Services) to operate the PHD.

We cringe as we ask why the BOH would be so intent to hand over the keys to the PHD to a private, for-profit corporation from out of the county, when the local hospital of high regard stands at the ready to accomodate the Supervisors' wishes to assume control and all the risks involved with the PHD and its $600,000 annual budget.

We cringe as we learn that the BOH and the PHD are willing to face criminal charges for refusing to make available to the media last week's Careage Services proposal to operate the PHD, the proposal a matter of official public record, according to Cherokee County Attorney Jamie Bowers.

We cringe knowing that when the Chronicle Times contacted PHD Director Kim Rupp last week to get a copy of the proposal, she flatly refused.

We cringe knowing that, when told that the County Attorney had ruled the proposal as public record, Rupp stated unequivocally, "Dr. Gary (BOH Chairman) doesn't share that same view."

We cringe knowing that one of the most vocal supporters of the BOH and PHD, who relies regularly on PHD services, plus a sister of a BOH member, currently are employed at Careage Hills nursing home in Cherokee, which is owned by Careage Services based in Sioux City.

We cringe knowing that this past December Tom Gary offered to sell his vacant clinic building (he has retired) to the county for $200,000, and that the facility is now in line to house the PHD which must relocate from the court house to larger confines by July 1 of this year.

We cringe at the prevailing public perception we hear too often: "What is wrong with Cherokee County? Why can't you people work together?"

We cringe knowing that the Supervisors will never, must never, consent to the pending 28-E Agreement between the BOH and Careage Services that would send county money for county health services out of the county to Sioux City.

And, sadly, we cringe knowing that this, in turn, will stop this BOH effort in futility dead in its tracks and send this roiling mess all back to square one, with nothing hurt but everyone involved.