I am writing this letter in support of Blaine Bickelhaupt, who is running for re-election to the Columbia County Hospital Board.
I served with Blaine on the Hospital Board for four years and continue to serve with him on the Hospital Finance Committee. There is a steep learning curve, and it takes several months to get up to speed when you first start on the Hospital Board.
It takes longer than that to understand hospital operations and budgets. In the next year there will be changes in the way and amount of money the hospital receives from Medicare and Medicaid. These payments will be reduced in the coming year.
Dayton is designated as a Critical Access Hospital, and because of this, it gets cost-based reimbursement. This designation allows hospitals in small communities to stay financially viable.
The critical access piece may also look different next year. Budget reductions that are necessary at the state and federal levels (due to the economic picture) will make an impact at our hospital and will change the bottom line on operations.
This impact could be substantial. In the next year I feel it is important to have individuals on the board who understand and can work with large budgets and are familiar with hospital operations. It is important that the Board members have the qualifications to deal with the changing economic picture.
Blaine has these qualifications and would be an asset to the community serving another term as our hospital commissioner.