Letters Vermillion and San Francisco

To the editor:

There was a time when I would never liken Vermillion, to San Francisco ? but wow ? there seem to be many similarities. Californians voted against gay marriages but what is the mayor doing? Ignoring the vote of the citizens and approving gay marriages.

Just like Vermillion, the citizens have a vote to NOT buy a building; � not remodel it with money they don't have. But just like the San Francisco mayor, Vermillion's mayor said to heck with what the voters said: "DO NOT BUY THE BUILDING." Let's just spend more of the citizens' money and see how we can ignore the voters and find a way to buy it anyway.

I'm not sure the mayor of San Francisco would like the comparison.

M. Evans


Fight for local hospital

To the editor:

I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Chris Hugo for his time in Vermillion and the support he gave me while I practiced there. I left Vermillion four years ago this week under much the same circumstances as Dr Hugo, so I know how he feels.

I also want you all to know what you have lost. We had looked for a general surgeon for two years before we found Dr. Hugo. His surgical skills and warm bedside manner are known to many in town, but I don't think many of you realize the commitment he gave to the residents and patients in Vermillion.

As the only surgeon in the hospital, he was on call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year. He saw this commitment as his duty to the hospital and to the other doctors in town. He accepted it without complaint, and actually welcomed the responsibility.

Before he arrived, there were numerous situations that required a surgeon. Getting one to come when you need them was difficult then, and will likely be more difficult now. Physicians with Dr Hugo's skill, compassion and commitment are rare and becoming more rare all the time. I seriously doubt if Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health Systems will ever be able or willing to replace him.

As hospital systems are pressured more and more for cost containment and "Quality Assurance" there will be more incentives to do more inpatient work at one facility. It just makes good business sense. Many hospitals in the country are stopping obstetrical practices simply because they can't afford the liability and their physicians don't want the responsibility of practicing obstetrics without an obstetrician readily available for consultation.

Decreases in services are sold as improvements in patient safety but are hard to justify when you have to drive 60 miles in a blizzard because none of the doctors in your town will deliver your baby, remove your appendix, treat your broken bone, or care for your dehydrated infant.

There is a real risk of your hospital, owned and managed by Sioux Valley Hospital and Health Systems becoming nothing more than an acute care nursing home.

The long-time physicians in your community have been fighting against the trend to send everything away, but it is not a battle they can win alone. Support them in their fight for you and your community hospital. Demand that your physicians find ways to provide your care in town. Be vocal when you are asked to leave town because your hospital no longer provides the service you require.

The next time you see Chris Hugo, thank him for the commitment he showed to Vermillion and its citizens. Think about what you've lost the next time you are riding in the back of an ambulance north on I-29.

Scott Rand, MD

Spring, TX

Editor's note: The Plain Talk offered Sioux Valley an opportunity to read Dr. Rand's letter before publication. The following response is from Ed Weiland, president, Sioux Valley Regional Health Services, Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health System:

"I seriously doubt Sioux Valley Hospitals and Health Systems (sci) will ever be able or willing to replace him."

Sioux Valley works diligently in recruiting physicians to serve patients in rural areas throughout the region. Sioux Valley's commitment to recruitment for Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center is demonstrated by the recent recruitment of Drs. Olson, Walker and Mortinsen.

Currently, Sioux Valley is working with Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center and the Yankton Medical Clinic to recruit a new surgeon to serve patients in the Vermillion area in addition to outreach specialists.

"Decreases in services are sold as improvements in patient safety but are hard to justify when you have to drive 60 miles in a blizzard because none of the doctors in your town will deliver your baby, remove your appendix, treat your broken bone, or care for your dehydrated infant."

Recruiting physicians to serve rural areas in today's healthcare market is a challenge. When physicians commit to a community it is important that people in those communities seek their healthcare locally and use the services provided in order to retain both quality providers and the services they provide. Patient safety is always a priority no matter how many providers or services are available.

"There is a real risk of your hospital, owned and managed by Sioux Valley Hospital (sic) and Health Systems (sic) becoming nothing more than an acute care nursing home."

First, Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System has a lease agreement with Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center (it is not owned by Sioux Valley as indicated in Dr. Rand's letter).

To date, Sioux Valley has invested over $2.5 million in the Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center and clinic healthcare facilities and market.

Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center's full-service hospital and clinic will continue to provide quality healthcare services in Vermillion.

Sioux Valley, with input from Dakota Hospital Association & Foundation Board of Directors, recently hired Mr. Tim Tracy, a native of South Dakota, as the new CEO at Sioux Valley Vermillion Medical Center. He will begin his duties on April 1.

Mr. Tracy has excellent rural healthcare management experience. He is a USD graduate, has family in the area and is looking forward to being back home in South Dakota and becoming a part of the Vermillion community.

The philosophy of Sioux Valley Hospitals & Health System is to help provide quality healthcare as close to home a possible.

Singled out

To the editor:

Once again the Plain Talk has singled out Rep. Nesselhuf by condemning his "no" vote on the controversial, unconstitutional abortion bill HB 1191. There seems to be a partisan mean-spiritedness to these attacks. As for the facts, the state of South Dakota has spent six figures defending anti-choice pieces of legislation in the past. The expensive efforts went nowhere. Not one inch of ground was gained by this exorbitant expenditure.

Wouldn't that money be better spent on children's immunizations, school lunches or daycare for working single mothers? Or how about more funding for the domestic abuse shelters (31 in all) who receive a paltry $250,000 from the Legislature to house and provide support services to over 3,000 women and children per year?

Rep. Nesselhuf also has concerns that there is no exception for rape or incest victims in this anti-choice piece of legislation and rightly so.

Rep. Nesselhuf has it right, let's get something for our money. Let's get something that improves the lives of South Dakota families. In the meantime, let us allow Rep. Nesselhuf do the job we elected him to do, not defending and preparing for a weekly attack in his hometown newspaper.


Ro Ann Redlin

Policy Analyst<</I>P> South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Dept. of Corrections Sex Offender Management Team Member


Naive and ill-informed

To the editor:

In David Lias's editorial last week, "Lawmaker shows his lack of courage," Mr. Lias showed his own lack of understanding regarding the debate about HB 1191. This bill, which would outlaw all abortions, even in cases of rape and incest, is not supported by many members of the Legislature, including those who consider themselves "pro-life."

Rep. Bill Peterson, chair of the House State Affairs committee, had the Legislative Research Council see if the $1 million price tag was a reasonable estimate for how much litigation over this bill would cost the state and they determined that, indeed, it was.

And while Mr. Lias may call $1 million a "negligible amount," I don't think that most South Dakota taxpayers feel that way. I am certain that the Vermillion school district would be thrilled to receive these "negligible" funds.

South Dakota Right to Life and other "pro-life" organizations have not supported this bill. Senator Jay Duenwald, who has introduced abortion bans in the past, has not supported this bill. Why? Because they realize that it has no chance of surviving a court challenge and it will not stop a single abortion.

The Supreme Court has reversed itself in the past, but Brown v. Board of Education was not decided by the same justices that heard Plessy v. Ferguson. These decisions came half a century apart. The Supreme Court upheld Roe v. Wade as recently as 2000 in Stenberg v. Carhart and no justice has left the court since then.

In criticizing Rep. Nesselhuf for 1) being honest with taxpayers about what this bill means and 2) being one of many in Pierre, "pro-life" and "pro-choice," who recognize the futility of this legislation, Mr. Lias is naive and ill-informed. Rep. Nesselhuf should be commended for showing an abundance of courage. The courage to be honest with hard working South Dakotans about where their money is going and the courage to be true to his oath as a legislator to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States.

Kelsey Collier-Wise


No need for lobbying trip

To the editor:

While viewing the latest council meeting (Feb. 17) on TV I was both amazed and amused with hearing Mayor Kozak's concillatory acceptance of the "public input" result for the city project.

I refer to the fate of Senate Bill 177 on Feb. 5. This bill could have had some impact on our future city manager type of government.� SB 177 would have allowed city councils using the city manager form of government to make their own rules about how council members could inquire into city business.

In other words, if the bill had passed the House and was signed into law (it had already passed the Senate) city councils would have been able to change or alter the present authority of the city manager.

However, it would have had no effect on our present form of city government UNLESS city council decided that at some future date it was needed. It was a "permissive bill." There was no need for the council resolution opposing it, nor for any futher action.

� Step 1:�For the Feb. 2 council meeting, Mayor Kozak asked Mr. Patrick to develop a resolution opposing SB 177. After a short discussion between council members and Mr. Patrick, the resolution to oppose was passed 6-2

� Step 2: Shortly after this Feb. 2 meeting, someone (?) authorized a lobbying effort against the bill before the House Committee in Pierre. Councilmen Powell, Olson, and Hofman, along with Matt Fairholm from the Farber Foundation decided to represent us.�They were successful.

The bill "was killed" on Feb. 5. But did you, the taxpayer,� know anything about this bill at that time? I'll wager not one person in 100 in Vermillion knew about it or what was in it on Feb. 5.

So it was decided for us that there would be no need for any change in the city manager's authority available for any fufuture city councils. We also decided for Yankton and Brookings having similar city manager types of government.

Bottom line: This council decided that they not only didn't like this bill, but that no future city council should have this option available to them. We, the Vermillion taxpayers, paid $1,184�for the chartered plane.

So much for "public input" – let's go into executive session.

Van Pierce


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