View Mobile Site

Covering KershawHealth for you

Posted: April 1, 2011 2:27 p.m.
Updated: April 4, 2011 5:00 a.m.

If there are times when you think that we publish a lot of KershawHealth stories in this paper, there’s a very good reason for that.

Actually, there’s a number of very good reasons for that.

I’ve been doing so for nearly 11 years now and several times a year I get asked about this.

The simple, short answer is: because it’s the county’s public, non-profit community hospital.

But what does that mean?

Friday, we had two KershawHealth stories. The first was my report on last Monday’s KH Board of Trustees meeting during which administrators spoke once again about the challenges facing the health care system. The other story was about Mary Young, a nurse manager who is one of 100 recipients of this year’s Palmetto Gold award.

Why are those two stories important?

Let me take the one about Ms. Young first. As a community newspaper, we often try to highlight good news in the community. Anyone getting an award like this is worth celebrating. We often feature award-winning people from the school district, other public and private entities as well as the community at large.

That was easy.

What’s a little harder is explaining why we need to cover the health care system’s board meetings.

First of all, it is a public hospital. It is public because of how it is operated. The board of trustees, while acting much like a board of directors, is a Kershaw County Council-appointed body. It is no different in that respect than, say, the Camden Planning Commission, which I sometimes cover.

By virtue of that, the KH board is subject to the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law, requiring it to hold meetings -- and, therefore, votes on anything -- in full public view.

That is different from, say, a corporation that is beholden only to its stockholders. It is not -- and likely would not want to be -- subject to the FOIA. The only way you find out much about companies like that is through their U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

KershawHealth is also a non-profit entity. While it certainly makes money, it does so only to meet its operations, placing money in reserves not to meet some stockholder’s dividend but to ensure the fulfillment of its mission: to provide quality health care services to all the people of Kershaw County regardless of their socio-economic situation.

As a non-profit arm of the Kershaw County government, it is eligible to use our tax dollars.

However, as KH board chairman Jody Brazell pointed out to me in December when we talked about renewing Weeks’ CEO contract, the hospital is operating efficiently enough to not only not ask for tax revenues but provide $11 million in charity and unreimbursed care to the public (2009 figures).

“Due to our governmental status we could (ask for taxes),” I quoted Brazell, “but we don’t.”

The mere fact that KershawHealth could use tax dollars is sufficient reason for the Chronicle-Independent, as the county’s paper of record, to ensure it is either a) doing everything it can not to have to ask for tax proceeds; or b) if it ever does use taxes, that it do so responsibly.

That is part of our being the county’s watchdog. It’s a basic responsibility of any newspaper.

On top of that, KershawHealth is our community’s only hospital.

Kershaw County may have a good number of physicians, from general practitioners to specialists, but there is no other hospital/healt hcare system to serve our citizens.

Since so many of us utilize the hospital’s services -- whether it’s the emergency department, having babies, undergoing surgical procedures or getting an X-ray -- it’s important that we let you know what your hospital is doing.

The decisions the KH board and administration make affect your wallet and bank account. It affects decisions you make. For example, we may report the health care system has added a particular service. Now, you’d probably know that from some advertisement or billboard you see from KershawHealth. That advertising might make you consider using that particular service at KH if you had been going somewhere else.

As a newspaper, our mission’s deeper. Why did the hospital choose to acquire that practice, add that piece of equipment, construct that building?

How did it go about making the decision? Do you, after reading the story, believe it was a good decision to make or was it made recklessly?

As a smart consumer -- but more importantly in this case as a taxpaying citizen -- the answers to those questions should be important to you.

Finally, KershawHealth has been serving Kershaw County for nearly 100 years. During that time, it has grown to be the county’s second largest employer, only behind the Kershaw County School District.

That, too, makes KershawHealth a subject for scrutiny by this newspaper. The decisions the board and administration make affect not only the rest of us as consumers and taxpayers, but more than 1,000 people as employees.

Our news staff has several basic beats, categories of stories we never skip. Just as we bring you news about Camden City and Kershaw County councils, the L-EWA, school board and others, we will always cover KershawHealth.

It’s a core part of our mission as your community newspaper.

Interested in viewing premium content?

A subscription is required before viewing this article and other premium content.

Already a registered member and have a subscription?

If you have already purchased a subscription, please log in to view the full article.

Are you registered, but do not have a subscription?

If you are a registed user and would like to purchase a subscription, log in to view a list of available subscriptions.

Interested in becoming a registered member and purchasing a subscription?

Join our community today by registering for a FREE account. Once you have registered for a FREE account, click SUBSCRIBE NOW to purchase access to premium content.

Membership Benefits

  • Instant access to creating Blogs, Photo Albums, and Event listings.
  • Email alerts with the latest news.
  • Access to commenting on articles.

Contents of this site are © Copyright 2014 Chronicle Independent All rights reserved. Privacy policy and Terms of service

Powered by
Morris Technology
Please wait ...