The following letter was sent Friday to County Commissioners Bert Boldt, Ricky Jones and William Massey.


After reviewing multiple options as suggested for the continuation of health care in Franklin County, I must strongly encourage you to choose the most appropriate financial and best operational alternative including excellent professionalism and equipment offered to us by Ascension Sacred Heart hospital and clinic.

In the course of what I hope are finally your final deliberations, I feel sure you have carefully reviewed the side-by-side proposals made available to you over these last many months. While the Alliant presentation sounds scholarly, it provides merely another continuation of the analysis and study efforts which have postponed this important health care decision far too long.

Although I believe the Texas A&M grant proposal can yield some additional wisdom and guidance, it also seems to offer nothing more tangible in terms of operation and equipment than more analysis and review, and perhaps some long-distance perspectives for our health care future. (If that grant study had been available in our past, I believe it would have pointed us in the direction of the Sacred Heart proposal, acknowledging as have others that a new Weems is financially unsustainable. For in even the most preliminary observation by the Texas A&M group, they acknowledge that a county of our population should have no more than four to six beds.) And in their own grant application, Weems acknowledged a nightly census of 0.93. That is not the service needed here.

Since the health care tax was passed and implemented more than 12 years ago, how many of those $21 million tax dollars collected have been siphoned off for payroll, bill payments, CEO/CFOs, bookkeeping programs, etc. at Weems Hospital. Only $4 million remains; that shortfall was not the intent of the voters nor of the ballot language!

And, by the way, more than those same dozen years ago, monies were privately raised to assure that mammograms could be made available to local women at Weems hospital. (Remember, the beautiful calendars that were created with donated time and skills, and which featured prominent local women who welcomed their part in the revealing efforts?) How sad that the too-old machine, purchased with one small grant, lasted too short a time and left unfilled that key health care check that could have helped Franklin County citizens find the onset of breast cancer? What an important local service that was, but when the antiquated machine expired, the hospital did not use taxpayer dollars to replace it for us. That seems to me to be yet another public failing on their part.

It is my sincere hope that you will acknowledge the financial drain Weems hospital has become to the county taxpayers. I further hope you will realize what is truly best for the health care needs of the people who elected you, and will finally take the leadership role appropriate for your commission oath. What Are you waiting for?

How much longer will you wait to make the best health care decision for us? How much more money must be spent to prop up the financially failing, 1955 physical hospital structure? How much longer will you wait to make the best health care decision for us? Any further monies expended on such things as phony economic development studies should be put forward to the construction of the new, state-of-the-art clinic for the Sacred Heart proposal. We would then be on our way to better health care for all in a 24-hour, standalone emergency room facility, as they offered to our county.

I don’t understand why or how you can, in good conscience, ignore the health care for your constituents in yet another year of more unproductive review, planning and delay. No matter what the Alliant group, or the Texas A&M group may suggest for Franklin County, the Sacred Heart proposal puts hospital equipment, staff and professional caretakers here for us as soon as you get that clinic built. Their application to service our needs is backed with thorough and skilled research, and further offers the management expertise of the Ascension system.

Please don’t wait another year. Please fulfill the leadership role to which you were elected. Please!

Mel Kelly