letters to the editor - 12/31/02

December 31, 2002

A new hospital? This story has missing links

To the editor:

As I read reporter Andrew Schotz's interview with James P. Hamill, President and CEO of Washington County Health System, I cringed as this article took almost a full page with 26 questions and every one was about moving the hospital, funding, pricing, opening date, how do you move a hospital (I'm not sure why that would be relevant), what would prevent a move, etc.

Yes, his questions needed to be addressed but he left out the most important part of this whole equation - patient care!

As I have personally witnessed, the hospital now is so short-staffed, especially registered nurses, nursing assistants and nurses aides. Some are working double shifts and/or overtime, so they suffer burnout and cannot possibly give 100 percent to their job even though they want to. They just don't have enough time to care for their patient load.


My concern is not if the hospital will move, when, where or how much. We lost our Level II status as a trauma center; doesn't this fact bring a lot of questions about the administration leadership at Washington County Hospital?

I commend our trauma doctors for standing their ground.

However, before any decision is made to build and move, we need to be sure our current hospital is fully staffed, adequately trained and that patient care becomes the number one priority. All else is just bricks and mortar!

J. K. Foster


Taxpayers' money would be better spent in town

To the editor:

It was stunning to read in the newspapers that the Shepherdstown Council has voted to donate $40,000 to the Jefferson County School System. This appears noble and generous, but the schools now claim approximately two-thirds of the county's real estate and personal property taxes, while the town gets a little over 1 percent.

Our taxes have just been increased with the enlarged school excess levy and we must assume that another school bond issue will appear soon again.

It seems better that charity should begin at home or at least allow those giving such a sizeable gift to express an opinion in a public hearing. We have enough widows, children, poor and retired who might feel the money could be better spent within the corporate limits for which it was intended.

The town threatens liens on those who aren't able or can't afford to clean snow. They discuss replacing sidewalks which are the property owners' responsibility. We also face a $2 million bond issue to improve our water system which will better serve developers and further burden schools.

Our water and sewer rates have been raised and recently parking meters were installed at the train station to raise income. Our large police force must levy huge fines for trivial traffic violations to raise their own salaries.

There is much that requires this money here. As an example, why not replace the sidewalks on the commercial blocks of German Street in a uniform style rather than have each property owner doing a piecemeal patching?

This gift may appear commendable, but I doubt that there are many children in Shepherdstown proper who will benefit from this largess. In addition, it seems highly unlikely that the surrounding areas which include these schools will ever agree to annexation.

I say let's open the town government up and stop making major decisions without the public's awareness.

Joseph O. Matthews

Shepherdstown, W.Va.

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