Studying hospital sale is right step
The Morgan County Commissioners made a good move when they passed a resolution to look into selling War Memorial Hospital last Friday afternoon.
When we proposed the idea in editorials and conversations with the commissioners last year, we pointed out several angles that should enter into the thinking.
First, even those who now believe they oppose the idea need to re-examine why a small county government should be in the hospital business these days. With the costs of the proposed new hospital estimated at $31 million plus interest, and the ever-growing complexity of the Health Care World, it certainly may be time to get out of hospital ownership.
And, the sale of the hospital business license should bring in millions of dollars that could be put toward the new courthouse. Valley Health Systems bought a smaller facility in Hampshire County last fall for a rumored $5 or $6 million.
Our original editorial also pointed out that just seeking proposals doesn't mean the commissioners have to sell War Memorial in the end.
When discussing last week's resolution, the commissioners said they intend to set conditions for possible buyers, as well they should. Those conditions ought to include the present staff continuing so there is no upheaval, as well as satisfactory answers about how nursing home patients and the emergency room will be handled in the future. It's especially important to start fresh, so all potential bidders are treated equally, not given an edge because of past associations.
While we were disappointed it took the commissioners so long to publicly discuss the idea of selling the hospital, they have finally taken the step and should be commended.
If it all works out, getting out of the hospital business, and the resulting money from the sale, should benefit Morgan County's citizens and taxpayers.