Editorial: Vote in favor of RMC millage renewal on Aug. 15

On Saturday, August 15, voters in much of Washington Parish will be able to demonstrate our strong support for a comprehensive hospital in Franklinton.

Riverside Medical Center has a millage renewal on the ballot. It’s an 18 mill, 10 year renewal. It is important to note that this is not a new tax. It is a renewal of an existing tax that helps support the hospital.

As the Coronavirus infection has raged in recent months, we have seen first-hand that the presence of a hospital on the western side of our parish is critically important. Many residents stepped forward during this pandemic to applaud Riverside and its employees for their overwhelming effort to provide medical care and to keep the citizens of our area safe.

But even before Coronavirus, the improvements at the hospital and the expansion of services were attracting positive notice from the people of Washington Parish.

That RMC was involved in a major community controversy in the recent past cannot be ignored. The situation that ultimately resulted in Family Medical Clinic leaving Franklinton was deplorable. It created hard feelings within this area.

Thankfully, things have changed at RMC since then. There is new leadership on the board of directors --- leadership that places service to the community above everything else. And there is a new administrative team operating the hospital. In 2016 RMC partnered with Our Lady Of The Angels in Bogalusa and the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System to provide management services for the hospital. Peter Sullivan, an experienced hospital administrator with three decades of service as a healthcare executive, was appointed to manage RMC. This change in leadership on the board and in management of the hospital has resulted in vast improvements in systems, technology, services, and --- significantly --- communication at Riverside Medical Center.

The Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System provides management services, but that does not mean the ownership of RMC has changed. The hospital is still owned by you, the citizens of Washington Parish Hospital Service District #1, just as it has been since it was founded in 1966.

It is still a non-profit community hospital. It is our hospital. And we need to help support it. Let’s do that on Saturday, August 15, by voting in favor of the RMC millage renewal.

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