Hospital Land Swap A Fair Deal?On June 27, I was reading...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 18, 1993

Hospital Land Swap A Fair Deal?

On June 27, I was reading in The Sun . . . regarding a possible land swap between Carroll County General Hospital and the government of Carroll County. I began reading this article with a great interest because I am a resident of Westminster and a former employee of Carroll County General Hospital.

It seems that the county government wants to swap the building and property that the Carroll County Department of Health now occupies for property that Carroll County General Hospital owns in Hampstead, over 400 acres of property.

This property is also considered farm land and because of the soil, they have stated that it is only worth $400 per acre. However, the county government is going to swap a piece of property and the building that sits on that property that is assessed at being worth over $4,000,000 for the $161,000 farm land in Hampstead.

It seems to me that it is time for a concerned citizen to step into this little matter and remind the public of a few facts not very obviously brought out concerning this proposed deal.

The first is that Carroll County General Hospital is a business. Even though it enjoys the tax status of being a not-for-profit business, it is run and operated by people that have a great deal to gain if this hospital expands in any capacity. . . . Thus, the county's citizens have no way to require the administrators of this hospital to account to the citizens of this county other than that of being consumers, and since Carroll County General Hospital is the only hospital in this county, it has many of this county's citizens between a rock and a hard place. . . .

Commissioner Elmer Lippy stated in the article that "the taxpayers would get [cheated] if we didn't help Carroll County General Hospital. . . ." Mr. Lippy also stated that the hospital employs 1,100 people and is one of the county's major employers. . . .

If the county commissioners want to assist Carroll County General Hospital in obtaining the Health Department building and land, then why don't they simply change the zoning for the land in Hampstead? . . .

Carroll County is growing very quickly and it's time that we should consider getting another hospital into the county. . . .

James W. Main

Westminster

letter

Anti-Hospital Bias

The Maryland Society for Health Care Marketing and Public Relations (MSHCMPR) has noted a disturbing trend of biased reporting on the part of The Sun involving two of its member-organizations.

A recent series of articles by The Sun's Carroll County bureau indicates either a lack of knowledge of the hospital field or an intentional distortion or purposeful deletion of key facts. . . .

In the case of the Carroll County General Hospital stories, the reporter (and editors) imply that the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals' survey results regarding documentation failures implies that the hospital does not give good health care to the citizens of its service area.

As stated by Cal Peirson of the Maryland Hospital Association: "Like nine out of 10 hospitals surveyed by JCAHO, Carroll County General received recommendations with its accreditation." To imply that such routine recommendations affect the quality of care, and . . . failing to report that these documentation recommendations had, in good faith, been addressed is an example of "selective representation of the facts."

In addition to the issue mentioned above, an article (May 20) entitled "Inefficient hospitals plug along, despite state's widely praised cost control efforts," is one more example of an ignorance of the field, or intentional bias. . . . Throughout the article, judgmental terms and phrases such as: "latest medical fads," "trying its hand at real estate development," and "multi-million spending spree," were used to describe Harbor Hospital Center and its practices.

The article also implied that the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) is just another state bureaucracy that is wasting tax dollars. If such is the case, why do hospital executives from all over the world come to Maryland to study its hospital regulatory system? If the HSCRC isn't doing its job, why is Maryland one of the few states that disallows cost-shifting, requires hospitals to treat all patients regardless of ability to pay and, since 1974, has held the rise in hospital costs well below the national average? . . .

John C. Costopoulos

The writer is president of the Maryland Society for Healthcare Marketing and Public Relations.

Cartoon On Kids And NRA Told Untruth About Safety

I must take exception to the political cartoon in The Sun of Saturday, June 26, not because of the political content as the editorial staff can express its political opinion, but because it presents an untruth.

The cartoon shows an infant smoking and holding a pistol with a message stating that "smoking kills people." The caption states that the message is from the National Rifle Association.

The implication is that the NRA is not concerned about firearms safety among children. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

The NRA is and has been deeply involved in firearms safety. NRA publications continuously stress safety and present safety products. Firearms safety products, both traditional and innovative, are available through the NRA, including some specifically designed to prevent children access to firearms. The NRA initiated and supports the "Eddie Eagle" child gun safety program, the most widespread nationwide program to teach children firearms safety.

I would challenge you or any others interested in firearms safety to contact the NRA. They will provide information and support, because they are extremely concerned about firearms safety. A simple phone call will do it; call (202) 828-6000 and ask about the Eddie Eagle program.

Paul J. Wenzel

Finksburg

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