Public hearings held regarding $38 million project
More than 30 people were present for the two public hearings regarding the $38 million Sabetha Community Hospital (SCH) project. The hearings were held simultaneously at 7 and 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 25, at Sabetha City Hall. Included in those present were SCH CEO Dr. James Longabaugh, SCH COO Garrett Colglazier, and SCH Board Members Lavon Wenger, Bill Simpson, Norm Schmitt, Ed Strahm, Scott Krebs and Martha Montgomery.
Wenger opened the first of the two public hearings and let Dr. Longabaugh explain the way both public hearings would be held. Patrons were asked to sign up if they wished to speak on the topic that was to be discussed during the public hearing. Each patron would be allotted three minutes to speak.
The first public hearing was to discuss the alternative procurement process for the construction manager at risk for the planned expansion/new hospital construction project. No one present wished to speak at the first public hearing. With no public comment coming before the board, the board closed the public hearing.
The next public hearing opened at 7:30 p.m. by Wenger. Once again, Dr. Longabaugh explained the process for the public hearing and said the second public hearing was intended for the public to give comments on the “USDA Rural Development for financial assistance input that USDA Rural Development Communities Facilities Program is potential source of capital for rural organizations.”
Dr. Longabaugh invited the first and only speaker – Mark Schurter – to speak.
“As this project has unfolded, there has been a lot of talk about the relationship that the Sabetha hospital has with the community, and I, like most people from our community, have had good experiences getting medical help at our local hospital,” Schurter said. “For many of us, through the many struggles with COVID, our experience with the local hospital were not that good, and as we sought treatment in the nature of Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, we found that it was relatively unavailable here locally, causing us to seek treatment outside of the community and from medical professionals outside of our local Sabetha community. The thinly veiled attempt of the administration of this hospital to stop that treatment from being provided to us has been a frustration within the patrons of the Sabetha hospital and many in this community.”
Schurter continued, saying while there probably aren’t many “opposed to a new hospital, the medical care concerns of the last couple of years regarding COVID won’t change because we have a new hospital.”
“The application of treatment and the attitude toward that by the administration, and the medical professionals there will need to change for that to improve,” Schurter said. “It doesn’t mean that a new hospital is wrong or bad, but that is a part of the equation that may not fit real well with a upgraded facility. From the little research I have done, it looks like much of the funding information – the numbers on the books – go back to pre-COVID days. I think it would be good if we could get a little better handle on the data and information through the COVID time, as many have sought medical care outside the community hospital. I think many are interested in continuing to support it, but also feel a need to have the medical care, they feel they need.”
With no other further comment coming before the board, the board closed the public hearing.