As many Cedar County folks know, the hospital tax levy will be back on the ballot April 7, 2020.  I feel the need to reach out to say that I will be voting YES for myself, family and community.

My Great Grandparents, Grandparents, Mother, Father, Children, Grand Children, and I have been patients and used the services of our local hospital for decades.  It has served us well.

Having our local hospital is such a vital asset to our Community.  To date, I have not heard a single good argument on how the loss of our local hospital could possibly benefit the community.

Healthcare is the number one reason I am passionate about our local Hospital.  We have an aging Community.  Healthcare is a priority and the fact it is available without travel to our aging adults is vital.   I myself have reaped the benefits of the hospital’s programs with my own aging parents.  My Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002.  As with many illnesses come complications.  She developed infections that required weeks of infused antibiotics twice a day.  I was so grateful we could drive a few miles to Cedar County Memorial Hospital where she could get the care she needed and be comfortable and taken care of at the same time.  She was admitted with complications many times, and what a blessing it was to have her close so her family could visit and continue with work and our daily lives and responsibilities.

My father became very ill at the end of my Mom’s life.  He had diabetes, multiple heart attacks, strokes, Myelodsplastic Syndrome, and eventually needed blood transfusions on a regular basis.  I was once again able to drive him a few miles to get the transfusions at Cedar County Memorial Hospital.

After my Mom’s death, my Dad entered Senior Life Solutions (Senior Life Solutions is a Geriatric Intensive Outpatient Program dedicated to addressing the emotional and behavioral health needs of older adults) at the hospital and I have always shared what a blessing it was.  He always looked forward to going, and I saw such a positive change in his quality of life.  As time went on and his health declined we were able to use the Swing Bed program (Swing bed offers skilled nursing and rehabilitation services.  It serves often as an alternative to prolonged hospital stays or short term nursing home placement) after each of his strokes.  He was able to stay local and receive inpatient rehabilitation. The care was excellent.

There are countless times I have used the hospital for myself and my children. I have always had peace of mind knowing if I or my family had a medical emergency that I would have a place to go.  If I need a test ran I have that availability.  The “Fear Factor” for me is not having healthcare readily available in time of need.  Many times with medical emergencies, time is of the essence.

Community and economic growth are another concern.  As a Community we need to be proactive and forward thinking.  The Cedar County Memorial Hospital provides approximately 130 jobs in our county.  A large majority of these employees pay taxes locally and spend their wages locally.

I have heard remarks from rental property owners who have encouraged renters to vote NO.  Some property owners have suggested if the tax levy passes that they will pass the cost on to the renter.  My family and I owned rental houses for many years.  I would much rather have a thriving Community with renter possibilities than a stagnant Community trying to find a quality renter. The average rental home might have a market value of $50,000.  If the levy passes, it will increase the property tax on a $50,000 home by $43.54 per year.  This is an increase of $3.63 per month. The rate increase does affect personal property and real property tax.  In the case of rental property the rental owner would be responsible for the real property tax portion and the renter would be responsible for the personal property tax portion.  A small price to pay for peace of mind.

As a Community that wants to thrive I urge you to vote yes.  If you are a property owner I ask you to vote yes.  I would assume that without a local hospital our property values would decrease!

I hear people all the time asking the question, “How do we clean up our town and make it better?”  I feel positive that losing the hospital would be a step backwards and in the wrong direction.  In regards to cleaning up our town, our local business owners, and our local Chamber of Commerce deserve a huge shout out for the work they are doing in our Community.

I value my community.  If you have lived here your whole life or if you are a new member of this wonderful community, please join me in voting yes on April 7, 2020.  Please do not assume that other people will show up and vote.  Every vote is worthy and needed.  I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  In closing I would like to share one of my favorite quotes, “Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional.”

God Bless and Seize the Day,

Terry Stutesman Austin