Blue Mountain Eagle
A special tax levy in the amount of $41,555.91, believed by the Blue Mountain hospital district directors and the budget committee to be necessary for the continued operation of the Blue Mountain general hospital, was disapproved by the district’s voters in a special election Saturday, with 695 votes cast against the levy and 440 votes favoring it.
In view of the rejection of the special levy in excess of the six per cent limitation, and in consideration of the present financial condition of the district, the directors have decided that the hospital must discontinue operations. As stated in a letter to Grant County residents quoted below, no patients will be admitted to the hospital in Prairie City after April 30.
While the amount of the budget within the six per cent limitation, $31,044.09, has been levied for the coming year, a large part of that amount will be required to pay the present indebtedness of the district. At the present time the district owes $11,000 borrowed from the Grant County bank, about $12,800 in other debts, and will have a payroll in the neighborhood of $5,000 to meet at the end of this month. These items total $28,800. All is not as dark as this figure would indicate, however, for the district has on hand about $3,000 in cash and due accounts receivable total about $19,000.
Financial difficulties of the hospital have been attributed to a number of causes by different people, but the basic cause is the lack of utilization of the hospital’s facilities. Average patient occupancy during April has been only four, and for many months it has been less than nine.
Following is the statement from the hospital board, issued after a series of meetings Monday evening and Tuesday:
“To the People of Grant County:
“Last Saturday the voters disapproved the special levy needed to finance the Blue Mountain general hospital in Prairie City through the next year. This means that there will not be enough money available to continue to operate the hospital in Prairie City.
“Accordingly, the hospital at Prairie City will not admit any patients after April 30.
“The directors of Blue Mountain hospital district are going forward with an intensive study to determine what type and location of facility is needed to provide the people of Grant County with satisfactory hospital facilities.
“It is estimated that this planning will take from 30 to 60 days. During this period of time, under an arrangement made with Drs. Gerold and Martha van der Vlugt, patients of any medical doctor may be admitted for treatment in the John Day general hospital. This arrangement will continue until such a time as the voters approve or disapprove a different hospital service than has been furnished in the past.
“As your hospital board, we sincerely regret the necessity of closing the existing facility and solicit your cooperation and assistance. We hope to have a satisfactory alternative proposition for your consideration in the not too distant future.
“Directors of Blue Mountain Hospital District”