Letter to the Editor: Be careful what you vote for; we tried it once before!

Twenty five years ago (or thereabouts), came a clarion call for us Island folks to open our wallets and contribute to what would be a state of the frontier, 24-hour medical facility to forever meet our ‘round the clock routine and emergency medical needs in first rate fashion!

In those days, there was only one game in town, NCH and it had credibility. The funds seekers were sincere and persuasive. Respected Island leaders set the example and we got in line to give and we gave generously. A famous golfer lent his name and various wings, halls, rooms, furnishings and features were offered as named-giving opportunities. And we gave some more. And it was built and opened, accompanied of course, with speeches and shovels, ribbon-cuttings and best of all, prognostications of exceptional medical services to be rendered as we might need, day or night. The plaques, signs and labels are there today, testimony to the generous donors who believed in and supported our future medical facility needs, in perpetuity! Never let it be said that Marcoites would turn their backs on a legitimate civic deficiency!

Turns out, unfortunately for us, the reimbursements for after- hours urgent and emergency care were insufficient for the hospital to cover operating costs, they claim, and services were summarily curtailed without so much as a “by your leave!” The expectations of the many who gave willingly were based on NCH’s promise to furnish services based on their own assumptions and cost analyses. That’s behind us now, but there will come a time, before build-out, when the numbers will work for our market and a provider will find a way and make a nickel doing it!

And times are indeed changing. There are now two hospital systems (four hospitals) competing for the business in Collier County with great gusto! And Physician’s Regional is joining Naples Community with a presence on the Island! That competition in a viable market is present can explain the Daily News voluminous print advertising. Even Lee Memorial buys space, joining NCH’s “This is my hospital!” campaign ads (ad nauseam!). I’m willing to wait to let market forces shape the services offered to us as we continue to grow.

Comes the Pied Piper with the siren song of taxing ourselves to accelerate this process! Give either provider enough of a subsidy and you bet it will provide services. And can you imagine that point in the future when it could be terminated willingly? When pigs fly!

Heyward E. Boyce

City Council, 2000-2002, Marco Island

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