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Our thoughts on community hospital
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One of the cornerstones of pride in the Newton County community is that we have our own hospital; and throughout its existence the taxpayers have supported its development.

This past week hospital officials went to the Newton County Board of Commissioners to ask for an additional .3 mills for this year’s operating budget. The officials said the increase over the hospital’s allotted 1.2 mills was necessary because of the increased cost of indigent care brought on in part by Obamacare requirements.

This request was met with a lukewarm reception at best by the commissioners.

Nearby, Rockdale County has its own community hospital. Up until about five years ago the hospital was nonprofit and facing rising expenses and debt.

After much discussion and concern by community members, Rockdale’s hospital was sold to a private concern, Life Point, which operates more than 60 hospitals nationwide and specializes in the operation of community hospitals.

Since that purchase Rockdale Hospital has improved its service in almost every category; it also has attached additional doctors’ practices to its service.

Instead of not contributing to the county’s finances, they have paid $9.4 million in taxes to Rockdale County over the past five years.

In addition, the Life Point folks have been active partners with the county and the local chamber.

The revenue from the sale of the nonprofit hospital has been shared with different community nonprofits over the last five years, which has been another major plus.

We need and want to keep our community hospital. It’s an important part of the package that attracts business to our community.

There is going to come a point where the local taxpayers are not going to be able to sustain the hospital.

Our suggestion is that local officials at least look at privatizing our “not for profit” hospital if we want to remain competitive and up to date for the future.