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Our Opinion: More eyes on the money

January 31, 2001

Pioneers Memorial Hospital has been working through a tough financial period; one that only now is starting to show signs of improvement. But there is much work to be done before Pioneers can be considered financially healthy.

For that reason the hospital board deserves credit for creating a permanent finance committee, one upon which two board members will serve. It is a move long overdue in light of the financial struggle not only affecting Pioneers but hospitals throughout the state and nation.

The more eyes involved in studying the hospital's finances in an in-depth manner the better. Pioneers has taken strides forward. The hospital has seen surpluses in recent months that have eaten away at the hospital's deficit. Still, Pioneers is in a position of having to charge an assessment on the property tax paid by those who live within the hospital district

That assessment is not going to end anytime soon. We understand the hospital's need to charge the assessment, but we hope it is not a permanent levy. Hospital officials have said it is not. They have said as soon as Pioneers is strong enough financially, the assessment will end.


To get to that point is going to take careful planning and a close watch over finances. That is where the finance committee will play a role. We also are pleased to see the meeting will be open to the public. People in the district should have the opportunity to see for themselves what condition the hospital is in financially and they should have a chance to raise questions if they wish, particularly now because they are being assessed to pay the hospital's bills.

The two board members who will serve on the committee are Aleta Shropshire and Katy Santillan. Shropshire brings some historical perspective to the financial issues. Santillan brings a critical eye. By working with the hospital's management firm and top administrators, Santillan and Shropshire can make sure the board has all the necessary information when it comes time to make decisions related to finances.

Pioneers is important to the Imperial Valley, particularly the North County. It needs to survive and any steps that can help make sure that happens should be taken.

The hospital just celebrated its 50th anniversary. We look forward to the hospital having another 50 years.

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