To the editor:
Kay Hamilton, in her interview with Frank Jost, stated that Lewistown Hospital is currently doing well financially and that the perceived need to form a partnership is based solely on fears of what may happen in the future. While it may be true that influences such as the Affordable Care Act may have a negative impact on community hospitals, it may equally well be true that the individual mandate, which will require universal health care coverage, will prove beneficial to those hospitals, such as Lewistown Hospital, which have been providing millions of dollars worth of uncompensated care to the uninsured.
In 2008, the last year for which statistics are available, the percentage of the population that was uninsured was 8 percent for Mifflin County, 8.5 percent for Juniata, and 10.8 percent for Huntingdon. If all of those people were to obtain health insurance, the increase in revenue could be predicted to be more than enough to cover the budget shortfall.
Lewistown hospital was founded in 1905 and has survived through the depression, recession, several wars, and a flood. If Ms. Hamilton is, by her own admission, unsure of her ability to lead Lewistown Hospital successfully into the future, I would not argue with her. I would, however, propose that the solution to that problem is not to hand $90 million dollars worth of community owned assets over to Geisinger, or to any other entity. Instead, invest in new leadership that has the courage and creativity to view the current economic conditions as a challenge rather than a death knoll, and move Lewistown Hospital confidently toward the stated vision of its founders - conducting "charitable, scientific, and educational activities."
After Monday's public meeting of the Board of Directors, I believe that the board members are very good people who sincerely want to safeguard the future of the hospital. There are other entities in the community, such as Belleville Mennonite School, which have continued to prosper through tough economic times by staying true to the vision of service to their constituents. I believe that the Board of Directors and the administration of Lewistown Hospital need to follow suit.
Barbara Miller, RN, MS, CNM