Opinion

Last week to cast ballots for hospital bond, combined fire districts

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Residents in north Snohomish County have less than a week to complete and send in their ballots to decide the fates of two proposals on the May 15 election.
Voters in Hospital District No. 3 are being asked to approve a $45 million construction bond to renovate and replace aging and outdated facilities at Cascade Valley Hospital.
The work is needed due to the significant increase the areas population and the resulting increase in the need for services at the hospital.
Over the past 10 years the number of patients receiving care at CVH has increased by approximately 150 percent, from 29,335 in 1996 to 68,645 in 2006. In addition, in 1996 the Emergency Room treated 11,202 patients. By last year, that number had nearly doubled to 22,000 patients. That increased demand has impacted the hospitals ability to provide service to its patients. During peak times, some patients in the ER must wait between six to eight hours for treatment. In addition, the hospitals facilities (which include two buildings constructed in 1957 and 1987) are struggling to accommodate the rapid advancements in medical care and technology.
The bond, if approved, would provide the funds to upgrade and expand the Emergency Room to reduce patient wait times and overcrowding; increase Emergency Room capacity from the current six beds to 16 beds; add a short-stay observation unit to the ER to ensure ER beds are kept open for patients needing critical emergency care; expand and upgrade the operating room, child birthing center and intensive care units; reconfigure the hospital for maximum operational efficiency and cost savings; and upgrade and expand laboratory and imaging departments to ensure state-of-the-art diagnosis and treatment of patients.
In addition to the new facilities, improved services and increased access to health care, approval of the bond would help ensure that Cascade Valley Hospital is able to continue to attract and retain the best doctors and medical staff.
The $45 million bond proposal, if approved, would cost an estimated 81 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. That means the bond would cost the owner of a $300,000 home $243 per year, or about $20 per month a reasonable amount to ensure that our community, and the people who call it home, have access to comprehensive healthcare in a facility capable of meeting the growing population and changing technology for years to come.
The cost of approving the bond is a small price to guarantee that our community has continued access to local, quality health care. If you, your spouse or your child had a life-threatening injury and needed emergency care, the cost of the bond would seem like a small price to pay to ensure they received the best care possible. Proposition 1 requires a supermajority of 60 percent approval to pass so we encourage residents who reside in Hospital District No. 3 to vote Yes on Proposition 1,
Voters in Bryant, Freeborn and Warm Beach will be voting on a different Proposition 1 to decide whether Snohomish County Fire Protection district 14 and 18 can official merge to form the second fire authority in the state.
The proposition, which does not include any new taxes, would formalize the working arrangement already developed by the two districts. Approval would help the districts save time and make more efficient use of their money and facilities. Supported by the chiefs of both districts, Proposition 1, would combine the two districts three-person boards of commissioners into one, six-person board of commissioners with equal representation from the two districts. No personnel changes would result from the passage of the proposal and the districts would be better able to share their resources and allocate them to where theyre called on most often, rather than requiring each agency to stock its own reserves.
Approval of the proposal would benefit the two fire districts and, more importantly, the people they serve. We encourage you to vote yes on Proposition 1 to form the North County Regional Fire Authority.

To contact a member of The Marysville Globe/Arlington Times editorial board Kris Passey or Scott Frank e-mail forum@premier1.net.

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