East Washingtonian - Your Hometown News Source

Letters to the Editor


October 17, 2019

To the editor,

I am currently a general surgeon in active practice in Detroit. I grew up in Garfield County and graduated from Pomeroy High School in 1959. I currently own property in Garfield County and a house in Pomeroy.

Garfield County Memorial Hospital is near and dear to me. My first job (for which I needed a social security number) was a cook on the afternoon shift at the hospital at the age of 18. I also worked there during Christmas break and was promoted to a nurse’s aide, where I also worked during summers while going to college.

The nursing home was a much-needed addition. Some of the patients in the hospital were really nursing home patients. As the nursing home was nearing completion, my dad informed me that I needed to furnish one of the rooms as “payback” for the scholarship I had received from the Garfield County Tuberculosis Association. I was happy to do so.

I have followed healthcare in Garfield County as well as elsewhere over the last 60 years. In the early 1960s, the general practice physicians in Garfield County delivered babies and Doc Weiland did approximately l00 surgical procedures each year. Things changed. The malpractice premium to do obstetrics became unaffordable for the hospital and the physicians. This same thing occurred with performing surgical procedures.

Technology exploded with the development of the CT scanner, angiography, non-invasive procedures like cardiac catherization and other sophisticated diagnostic tests. Most of technology, as well as procedures such as joint replacements, prompted the local citizens to seek specialists in consultation and treatment in Lewiston, Clarkston and Spokane.

The citizens of Garfield County wanted and expected and needed these additional services not able to be provided by the local hospital. Furthermore, they also identified with a primary-care provider in these larger cities who provided the day-to-day care as well as routine screening tests and prescriptions. Consequently, the patients utilizing the hospital significantly decreased.

Healthcare also changed in that many procedures are done as outpatients and treatment for common problems such as diabetes and congestive heart failure is also done on an outpatient basis. There are not enough patients for a primary-care physician or for a hospital to survive in Garfield County. Further taxation is a waste of money. The hospital should close.

The resources in Garfield County should be used to support the nursing home, which is needed and support access to medical care in nearby Lewiston, Clarkston, or Spokane by supporting the local ambulance, the volunteer EMTs, the Senior Center and its van, and the helicopter program from Spokane. There should be access to physical therapy locally and the local citizens should support their pharmacy so that these services can be maintained.

Anna M. Ledgerwood, MD

Detroit, Mich.

To the editor,

In response to the letter printed in the October 10, 2019 paper. I agree change is for the better, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to sacrifice good quality knowledge and experience. The members of our community do deserve the best service which is why I am asking the community to write my name in. My 30 years of volunteer service doesn’t make me the most qualified for the position, but it does add a wealth of knowledge and experience which improves my ability to lead.

What makes me the most qualified and best choice for the position is a combination of years of volunteer service, my work ethic and ability to create and execute sound financial plans. Not only have I been a volunteer for all that time, but I also run a successful business with fluctuating income. That form of business takes a lot of budget planning and practical business analytics. These forms of experience make me the best candidate for the position.

Now as for the inaccurate information printed in last week’s letter. Here is the accurate public information available to anyone for review. The total budget of the Garfield County Fire District (GCFD) is $544,000–the increase received from the windmills is $270,000 total. Full time staffing has been identified as a possible necessity if the hospital fails to continue to service our community. It would take a $600,000 special levy in the first year to begin having full time staff. Each subsequent year following would require an annual levy of $300,00 to maintain 24/7 paramedic coverage. With proper budgeting and financial practicality, the department has been able to purchase two fire trucks and fund the new building without costing tax payers any additional funds. So, if you wonder where your tax dollars are being spent, simply look at the fire trucks and the new building site and plans. What changes do you see–new trucks! New building!

Now let’s discuss our dedicated paid and unpaid volunteers and the thousands of hours they spend educating members of our community, helping with local youth sports and clubs, and the fact that very few are ever recognized for their hard work and dedication to our community. Are you willing to step into a burning building for someone else? Are you going to drop everything you are doing and run to the scene of a gruesome accident where you may find some dead or some alive patients screaming for help? When was the last time you stopped and thanked one of our volunteers for sacrificing their hours, family time and even possible injury or loss of life to protect us? When our volunteers are not responding to emergencies, they are teaching Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) classes for Garfield County agencies, Garfield County Hospital and even some of our local churches at no cost!

Our volunteers are in constant training for everything including but not limited to safety procedures, equipment use, updated laws, proper techniques, etc. In fact, our district was just inspected by Washington State on our training, billing & documentation retentions, ambulances, and supplies. We passed with flying colors! The GCFD is active with Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) regional EMS and local EMS council, as well as the Garfield County Mental Health (GCMH) trauma review committee.

Our district is in constant contact and collaboration with our neighboring Fire and EMS Commissioners and Chiefs associations. We also partner with Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and United States Forest Service (USFS) so if an emergency happens, we have quite the rolodex of reliable assistance.

The district needs a leader that can easily recognize where change is needed, how to accomplish this change with little or no burden to our community, and what the positive/negative impact will be. Only myself has the years of experience, both volunteer and business, to be able to provide this community with the changes and updates it needs.

Please write-in Ed Fruh for Fire Commissioner.

Ed Fruh

Pomeroy, Wash.


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