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County Council meeting was appalling

Dear Editor,

Monday night I attended my first Bamberg Council meeting, but not my last. It was appalling to me the way it was done.

Johnny and I own 3 houses and 13 acres of land in Horry County and we have attended many council meetings there. These meetings greatly affect our property. The court house is packed.

There were maybe 25 people there to support our treasurer. Why she has to report to the council for every decision she makes is beyond me. Other county treasurers do not have to do this. Evidently it is a power play.

They beat around every bush in the woods before they addressed the Treasurer. This was very inconsiderate! My husband has to leave for Charleston at 5:00 in the morning and most all the people leave for work early, but we sat there. It was even voted on before any discussions from the audience. My husband came from Charleston to be there and share the laws with them.

It was 9:20 before they addressed this issue. As I sat there and listened, it was evident that our council members do not know the laws.

When the Chairperson spoke, his face turned blood red in anger, “Like How Dare you Question me.” The council was angered because she took action without getting their approval.

Again, the law says she has that authority.

Before leaving to go to a conference, she spoke with the county administration and county attorney and council chairman and told them she had replaced someone who had retired.

Again the chairperson’s face turned blood red as he spoke. No more money would have to be allocated.

She obeyed the law and made sure her office would be taken care of.

Mary S. Nobles (Libby), Denmark, SC 29042

Thank you Bamberg County Hospital

Dear Editor,

This is a letter expressing gratitude to all the individuals who have been and are now connected with Bamberg County Hospital. For the gift of the land upon which to build the hospital and the forethought of trustees, board members and administrators that went into the planning and implementation to make Bamberg County Hospital an entity staffed with skilled, caring employees, I say, “Thank you.”

My mother died there February 7, 1967 in what we would now call a hospice situation - I remember the kindness and care we all received. In April 1970, our beautiful daughter was born there - I remember the skill of the nurses and the aides. From then until now I have used our hospital for diagnostic tests and emergency room care - I remember professionalism and kindnesses.

I believe your work caring for the medical needs of the citizens of Bamberg County and beyond will continue and for that I look forward and say, “Thank you.”

Vicki N. Abstance, Denmark, SC

Korean War veterans needed

Dear Editor,

I am writing a study of the Korean War, Korea 1950-1953: Within a War. I am seeking to talk with any participants in that conflict. I will be grateful to any of those who can contact me.

Dr. Arthur Mitchell
Professor of History
USC Salk Campus
Allendale, SC 29819
803-584-3446, Ext 142

Closing of the hospital was avoidable

Dear Editor,

The Bamberg County Hospital Board chairperson says closing the hospital on April 30 was “unavoidable.” To the contrary, the hospital could and should have remained a viable entity in our county of 16,000 people were it not for the incompetence of county council and the hospital board, the lack of vision by a number of county residents including some physicians, and a general apathetic shrugging of the shoulders by our citizenry (including me) that council nor the board should be taken to task.

A little history. More than a decade ago, a very reputable and large Florida-based acute care hospital chain emerged as the top bidders among national suitors offering to build a 55- bed tri-county hospital a half mile outside the Denmark city limits. They agreed in writing to pay each county $1 million for their hospital’s certificate of need, guaranteed to retain all hospital employees, pay full and non-negotiated county taxes, expand services, and absorb all construction costs including infrastructure improvements. But opposition arose mainly in north Bamberg spearheaded primarily by a physician who said the current hospital “would never close,” a businessman (now deceased) and a few hospital employees. Give them credit: their nonfactual vitriol and smear campaign worked. The hospital chain said in essence, “Who needs this?” The offer was rescinded. Wonder what those then-opponents are saying now?

A little more history. Due primarily (but not totally) to poor management, the hospital has been losing money for a very, very long time. But the actual hospital losses were shielded from the public because its budget was co-mingled with the very profitable 88-bed Bamberg County Nursing Center’s. The nursing center was covering the hospital deficits through “shared expenses.” Still the hospital losses were such they couldn’t even be covered by the nursing center. So County Council, despite warnings from some, decided to (unbelievably) sell the nursing home for a quick infusion of funds to prop up the hospital. That $3.5 million was quickly gobbled up and the hospital back in the red.

So, County Council and the Hospital Board then went through a revolving door of hospital administrators and/or management companies for a couple of years. When this comedy of errors didn’t pan out, what was left? County Council and the board filed for bankruptcy and without even issuing an advertised request for proposals, started backing the building of a now maybe two-county, maybe 25-bed hospital maybe by the year 2015 by a company that has never (according to listings on its website) operated an acute care hospital.

Which brings us to now. The Bamberg County Hospital and its emergency room will close, to be replaced maybe by an “urgent care center” operated by the Barnwell County Hospital. Yes, this is the same Barnwell hospital that is also losing money despite heavy annual county taxpayer subsidies and whose hospital board was recently replaced by Barnwell County Council members themselves! So in essence, the Bamberg care center will be overseen by Barnwell County Council. (You just can’t make up this stuff!)

Obviously, it shouldn’t take a reputable, well financed, for-profit private company almost three years to construct a small 25-bed hospital; two new nuclear reactors are being built near Augusta in the same period. Could it be the bottom line is the bottom line? Once “the hospital” becomes an “urgent care center”, does that mean our county’s many truly poor with no insurance and no primary physician will be denied the access and treatment hospitals are required by law to provide?

But hey, I’m sure our beloved Bamberg County Council and Bamberg County Hospital Board (assuming they’ve yet to disband) with their brilliant medical and business acumen have thought this all through. Then again, perhaps long-term planning, having a vision, and measured leadership aren’t their strong suits. Do you wear a suit to a hospital going-out-of-business sale?

Walt Inabinet, Bamberg

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