As we start the New Year we have a major dilemma facing us in in Newton County and that is the future of the Newton Medical Center.
The hospital has been a cornerstone of the growth of Newton County over the last 60 years and needs to be for the next 60 years.
There is no question that the cost of medical care has increased yearly throughout the past 25 years. Some of that cost is due to the advances in medicine and operation procedures that have allowed many of us to live longer, healthier lives.
That type of increase is to be expected. What is not to be expected is the cost of indigent care and the effects of the Affordable Care act which has dumped the burden of taking care of illegal immigrants and folks who can’t afford the new insurance rates square on the backs of medical facilities.
As a result of these increases our own hospital here in Newton County has been looking for either a medical partner or some group to take over operations of the hospital.
From the beginning of this search by hospital officials the financial stability of the hospital should have been an issue of major concern in our community; it has not been.
We have, in the past, suggested that the Newton Medical Center be sold to a private, for-profit hospital group like Life Point which owns the Rockdale Medical Center. If that happened, then instead of the taxpayers paying more than $2.2 million in taxes to support the local not-for-profit hospital, the tax base of the county would be enriched by the taxes paid by the private company. Such a tax turnaround could be in the amount of roughly $5 million. That would pay for a lot of infrastructure upgrades for the citizens of the Newton County.
From the rumors that we have been hearing, apparently having a private company run our local hospital is not in the plans. Persistent rumors say Emory will be taking over our hospital, but in what form we do not yet know.
We can only at this point pray and hope that whoever takes over the hospital that they are strong enough to insure we keep our local hospital.
We do have a concern, however, and that is why hasn’t our elected leadership of the county not been involved in discussions on what direction the hospital is going to go. After all, it is responsible for the millions in taxes that are spent each year to support our local hospital.