East Washingtonian - Your Hometown News Source


Garfield County, Let’s Move Forward


April 16, 2020

The April 28 Special Levy Election has the future of the Garfield County Hospital on the line.

We believe there are plenty of good reasons to check the “yes” box when you vote.

One of them is “life or death.”

There is a lot of real estate between major hospitals around here. If some major medical event happens to someone in Garfield County—be they a long-time resident, someone passing through on Highway 12 or a hunter or snowmobiler enjoying the Blue Mountains of the Umatilla National Forest—the options are hospitals in the Valley or Spokane, after they’ve first been brought to the Garfield County Hospital.

Via road, it’s 40 miles to the Valley, and those 40 miles could mean life or death—if the patient wasn’t first seen by physicians at Pomeroy’s critical access hospital, especially in those times of the year when a helicopter can’t safely fly.

There are numerous anecdotes among the residents of Pomeroy about how dramatically different their lives would be had the hospital not been waiting for them up on the hill.

Studies show that there is an 8% increase of dying for every 10 minute of drive time. In a forty-minute transport, the patient’s survival rate drops 32%. If someone has a heart attack, prompt treatment increases the likelihood of survival four to five times that of a person who has to travel forty, fifty or sixty miles to medical care.

Presently, the hospital provides emergency and urgent care for the area. They also tend the elderly close to home.

When people look for a place to buy a home and set down roots in a community, they seek available housing and vitality in the community. Top of the list is good education with extracurricular youth opportunities. Next is a strong retail-business district, and most importantly, a functioning health-care system.

Presently Pomeroy has an excellent school which is well supported by families and the community. The downtown area is small, varied, plus is quite dynamic, and the availability of on-the-spot medical care is the most valued asset the town could offer to anyone looking to settle here. Without any one of these entities, especially health care, our cherished community will start to dwindle and eventually slip through our fingers.

Today, the hospital district is the largest employer with a staff of about 75 employees. The first general rule of business is that for every payroll dollar or money spent in a business, the dollar is re-spent in the community six times. This can be seen through wages, and locally purchased services and supplies.

Not only that, the hospital brings in over $7 million of insurance money to the community through services, supplies and pharmaceutical needs. All of this calculates out to an estimated support of 35 jobs in the immediate area.

The ripple effect economic multiplier, may it be direct, indirect (as local businesses provide goods and services), or induced effects, is created when people in Pomeroy who are employed by the Hospital District spend some of their income in the community, at the grocery store, hardware store, gas stations and other supporting businesses, like restaurants, the newspaper and the school district.

Can you image the deficit it would leave in a community if its largest employer no longer existed?

Pomeroy has an asset sitting on the north hill which employs people, cares for its citizens and adds value to a small community which makes this little town very attractive to long-time residents and for those to come. It takes investment to keep a valuable asset functioning, and like a swimming pool, it needs attention each new season to keep updated and running. A yes vote will keep your hospital district moving into the future.


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