I have been amazed as I’ve watched Tulare, my community’s response to Measure I, the measure to complete construction of our unfinished hospital tower. The question is a simple one: Do we want to fund completion our hospital tower or don’t we?
What I have been amazed at is how my community, including some of the people I care most about, has accepted the “smoke screen” of innuendos put out by the opposition, which fog the simple issue, do we complete the hospital or not.
One of the craziest of these supposed issues is that if we complete the hospital, we will sell it or give it to HCCA. No matter what is being said, Tulare Regional Medical Center is a public hospital. It would not be possible, in fact it would be illegal, to sell it to anyone without a two-thirds vote of the people of the district.
Second, the darkest of these rumors for me and the reason I am writing this, is the rumor questioning our hospital’s chairman of the board and my wife, Sherrie Bell’s, honesty and integrity. Sherrie has been working tirelessly over the last 3 ½ years to save what was a failing and nearly bankrupt hospital. She has received absolutely no compensation for this, no salary, no stipend, no “under-the-table” funds. She donates many hours a week because she believes in our community, our hospital and the fine employees of Tulare Regional Medical Center. There is no one who is more honest and upright and who cares more about Tulare Regional Medical Center than Sherrie.
I don’t know where these ridiculous rumors started, but the thing that is interesting to me is the leaders of the “No on I” campaign are the same people who 11 years ago passed an $85 million bond and designed a $120 million tower. These are the folks who hired an unqualified architect and accepted his plans which could not be built. These folks are the previous TRMC Board members who hired an unfit construction company who had never built a hospital before and who, after wasting some of our precious $85 million, had to be fired by the current board. These are the people who hired a computer technician to be the CEO of the hospital, whose leadership resulted in record losses which brought the hospital to the brink of bankruptcy. My friends, everyone makes mistakes but why are you opposing the solution to your errors?
The much-maligned HCCA has turned the hospital around and made it profitable again while increasing the number of employees and in fact giving them two raises. Is their contract favorable to them? Sure it is and they have been worth every penny, saving our community millions of dollars in a very professional manner.
The smoke screen of rumors and even outright lies have clouded the real question of Measure I, do we want to finish our $85 million tower or don’t we? The opposition have done a great job of misdirecting the real issue, and I’m afraid that Tulare is being duped. I’ve heard from friends outside the community that Tulare is “toxic.” I don’t believe this. I must believe however that we have been gullible. As my mother said to me several times concerning my behavior as a teenager, “Dumb, dumb, dumb.”
If you haven’t voted yet, try to save our hospital by voting Yes on Measure I. If you have a problem with the board or HCCA, that election is in three months. Measure I has nothing to do with your board or HCCA, only with finishing our construction. If we don’t finish the tower now, it will cost a lot more to finish it later – or we can just tear it down and throw away our $85 million investment.
Robert Bell, DDS