Published in the Iola Register on Feb. 22, 2013.

Letter to the Editor 2-22-13

Dear Editor,
 On February 26, Cloud County has the opportunity to step into the future of health care, securing quality health care for current and future generations. The current facility that CCHC is operating in is antiquated and does not lend itself to the new technologies that today’s health care climate needs.
 The plan that CCHC is proposing is a well thought out and conservatively projected one. Placing the hospital at the Airport is an innovative idea that would make CCHC the first of its kind, a prototype for other rural communities, further improving our healthcare climate by expanding the connections our hospital and patients would have with larger facilities, should they be needed.
 Most people do not realize that our hospital is out of the “flight zone” for any large children’s hospitals. The closest, Children’s Mercy, out of Kansas City, cannot reach Concordia by helicopter, and its fixed-wing aircraft is too large to land at our airport as it is currently designed. Should your child, grandchild, niece, nephew or family friend’s child need urgent medical care, the fastest route to Children’s Mercy is an ambulance ride to Salina or Clay Center, a flight to Kansas City International Airport, and another ambulance ride to Children’s Mercy; generally a 4+ hour trip at a time when minutes and seconds matter. With the proposed hospital plan at the Airport, grant funds are being made available with the cooperation of the Airport Advisory Board to widen the current runway, which would enable larger fixed-wing aircraft, such as Children’s Mercy’s plane to land at our hospital, thus greatly shortening the time that it would take to get a patient in their doors. The number of air transfers coming out of CCHC is small, but when it is your family member, it matters.
 We realize this scenario does not apply to everyone, but to us, the parents of a child with a heart condition, it gives us great peace of mind knowing that this option would be available. We were fortunate to not have to experience an emergency transfer; the medical staff at CCHC found our daughter’s possible issue well before she was born, and pointed us in the direction of Children’s Mercy, knowing that she would need the specialized services of a pediatric cardiac surgeon.  Because of the quality care that we received at CCHC, our daughter is now a healthy 8-month-old.
 As a small community, it is important that we invest in the future of our area. Medical facilities, schools, and business climate are all vital to the survival of a community. Families with children are not going to want to relocate to, or remain in, a community without a quality medical facility. We need to support the physicians and medical staff that we have, or we may risk losing them as well. We are fortunate to have three excellent young physicians with families in our community. If we, as a community, tell them for the second time that we don’t value their services, they may question their decision to remain here, sacrificing time with their families to serve yours.
 A .75% sales tax increase amounts to $75 for every $10,000 you spend on taxable items. While I realize this amount impacts some families harder than others, the impact of not having health care in this county affects everyone. Vote YES on Feb. 26 and invest in the future of our county.
Justin and Traci Ferrell