Commissioners rethinking GMH levies


By Anna Bolton - abolton@aimmediamidwest.com



XENIA — Greene County commissioners are considering whether or not to allow two existing Greene Memorial Hospital (GMH) tax levies to continue.

On June 25, commissioners passed a resolution demanding Kettering Health Network (KHN) officials reinstate vital services at the hospital by Sept. 1. According to the resolution, the Xenia hospital — which is owned by KHN — did not renew its Level 3 Trauma designation in September 2019, closed its intensive care unit in February, and closed its surgery center in March.

According to KHN Marketing and Communications Director Jimmy Phillips, GMH continues to be fully licensed as a hospital, which includes an emergency room that receives and cares for trauma patients.

Network officials told the Gazette Aug. 31 that they have informed commissioners that “there is no sustainable path” to reinstate those services.

According to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson, network officials did lay out a five year plan — during commissioners’ most recent work session Aug. 27 — which included stabilizing the current operation until a new facility is constructed to meet citizens’ needs.

“As we have done throughout this process, we continued to stress our full commitment to the communities of Xenia and Greene County, which includes our intention to build a new health care facility within the city limits of Xenia,” KHN officials said in a statement. “This project will provide sustainability for decades to come — something the current hospital building cannot accomplish without major financial investments.”

Initial plans indicated the new facility could be built on KHN-owned land on Progress Drive at the REACH Center, Phillips previously said.

Huddleson said the commissioners will continue to discuss the topic.

“The commissioners want the hospital to remain for the patients it serves and the people it employs,” Huddleson said by email. “The commissioners are struggling to justify the continued levying of a tax that is supporting GMH when they are drastically reducing services. The voters did approve the tax but, would they have done so if they knew what was going to happen to the services and should the commissioners let it go on?”

Greene County voters approved the .5-mill renewal levies in 2016 and 2018, each continuing for five years. Both levies passed with 62 percent of the vote, according to Greene County Board of Elections official results.

According to two existing agreements between the board and the hospital governing the use of the tax levy dollars, the hospital is only to use levy funds for current operating expenses and for the purchase of equipment serving emergency services, nursing services, cancer services, women’s health services, and other GMH departments and/or facilities that were in place at the time of agreement.

KHN officials said they have worked to ensure they are upholding levy language and agreements.

“We have carefully reviewed the levy and our levy agreements and have reaffirmed our full compliance,” their statement said. “In what has been a year unlike any other, we are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to serve our communities and immeasurably proud of the heroes that give their time and talents to care for those in need. We look forward to continuing this service for many years to come.”

Rather than not renew the agreements, the commissioners could choose to serve notice of early termination of the agreements and ask the budget commission to discontinue levying the tax.

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By Anna Bolton

abolton@aimmediamidwest.com

Call 937-502-4498 or follow Anna Bolton, Reporter on Facebook.

Call 937-502-4498 or follow Anna Bolton, Reporter on Facebook.