Editorial: A tax for a 24/7 Marco clinic

Marco Island City Council believes islanders want an extra level of health care protection at night.

The island's 24-hour clinic has given way to walk-in service only during business hours due to low demand overnight. In the event of an emergency, islanders can drive 20 to 25 minutes to the Physicians Regional hospital on Collier Boulevard or call 911 for an ambulance. Even then, there is no assurance of swift service, as there is only one county ambulance dedicated to Marco Island, and that one might be busy.Against this background, City Council is backing a straw ballot for an annual property tax estimated at .1 mill to subsidize something between a doctor's office and an emergency room, with capabilities to do blood tests and X-rays, around the clock.

Supporters concede the time for public education and civic discussion is shorter than they would like, with council approving the ballot question only in early June. They say they are blocked by a technicality from being on the Nov. 6 ballot and prefer to go the Aug. 14 route rather than spending more than $22,000 on a separate referendum.

The opposition makes good points. The precise size of the tax is unclear in the official ballot language, and the tax has no sunset or end date.

There has not been time to decide whether people who are not payers of property taxes on Marco should pay a premium to use the clinic overnight. Those people would include neighbors from Goodland and Isles of Capri and even tourists. Plus, would the tax subsidize the medically indigent?

Yet, rather than call those reasons to vote "no,'' we see this Marco referendum as personal — and a beginning rather than an end. We recommend a "yes'' vote on Aug. 14 or when early voting starts Monday to keep the conversation going.

This is not setting policy for the entire county. This is Marco Island taking action because of its own unique geographic reality. It is an island, and health care is not as readily available as it is elsewhere in Southwest Florida.

Let the home rule conversation carry on in the full sunshine of open government and public records.

Who can vote? All 12,000 voters on Marco Island.

Questions about voting? Call the Collier County Supervisor of Elections Office at 239-252-8450.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Comments » 5

Doodles writes:

"This is Marco Island taking action because of its own unique geographic reality. It is an island, and health care is not as readily available as it is elsewhere in Southwest Florida."

So you are telling me there are no other places in SW Florida that are a 20-25 minute drive to an ER facility? I find that hard to believe. What is difficult for me to grasp is the single ambulance support system. That is where I see an access to critical care gap - not a lack of a 24hr NON EMERGENCY clinic. A 25 minute ride in the car to get a sprained or a broken arm looked at isn't bad, but to have to wait for a backup ambulance from off island to transport a heart attack or stroke victim - well there's the problem...

If my understanding of this article is correct, why isn't the County being held to the fire to provide more comprehensive critical care care transport services? Or has City Council said no to this in the past?

If the County refuses to step up to the plate, can Marco residents and businesses go about the fundraising needed to purchase a 2nd emergency vehicle? I realize it needs to be staffed etc. but how about a voluntary first aid squad? I have always had access in rural & not so rural sections of the country that have had voluntary first aid squads which provide excellent care and rely on fundraising to keep it all going.

But I guess the real question needs to be put forth to the current fire/first aid squad as to what they have seen as deficient arrival times to requests for care.

My vote would be NO to clinic - Yes to ambulance..but that is not an option on the ballot.

captnjimbo writes:

Well at least thank you for putting it out there but I think you are on the wrong side of this one. This is a private enterprise deal and let let P, Regional and NCH compete and they can compete by level of service and convenjience. For us to pick one and then tax to attract it smells like "big Government" to me, even if it is on a local and little level. Don't get me wrong, I am at the age when I might need the service and would like the convenience...and it is not really the money...it is chump change...a really creative approach could have the same result...how about the city, the county and the chamber all support who ever gives the best service to Marco by making them the preferred provider...a different kind of free market clout.

ajm3s writes:

"Marco Island City Council believes islanders want an extra level of health care protection at night."

Interesting, I wonder why a referendum for an expanded Community Center was not included to "Let the home rule conversation carry on in the full sunshine of open government and public records."

In fact, there were a fair amount of signed petitions requesting such but I guess the Council dismisses because it deems that the voters need to make a decision on expanded health care hours.

Well folks, this council is a shadow of this island, that works under the leadership of a shadow, that claims that the folks are clamoring for expanded hours through subsidization. That the folks want to subsidize private health care organizations, even to the extent it may benefit one organization over another that will be opening a clinic in December.

Folks, the planning and visionaries on this island simply SUCK and I made need to be intubated! Do I go to the island clinic?

Imagine, this is the solution that was hatched to address an emergency situation that went awry.

How can one expect our representatives to solve problems when they (Council) cannot even characterize the situation effectively and offer the voters better choices.

Folks its time to change the guard, because this 24 hr security is beginning to look like the Keystone cops.
God help us all!!!!!!

ajm3s writes:

Did I miss something, who is the editor that can claim that the Council wants a 24 hr subsidized health care center.

If so I would like to have a vote count from each council member, because I believe there are some that will vote NO!

Now in the publishing world that would be quite transparent and telling if that was available to the folks before the vote tally of August 14th.

Early voting tally:

Gibson: Yes
Waldack: Yes
Magel: Yes

Now lets wait for the remaining citizen tally.

ajm3s writes:

in response to Doodles:

"This is Marco Island taking action because of its own unique geographic reality. It is an island, and health care is not as readily available as it is elsewhere in Southwest Florida."

So you are telling me there are no other places in SW Florida that are a 20-25 minute drive to an ER facility? I find that hard to believe. What is difficult for me to grasp is the single ambulance support system. That is where I see an access to critical care gap - not a lack of a 24hr NON EMERGENCY clinic. A 25 minute ride in the car to get a sprained or a broken arm looked at isn't bad, but to have to wait for a backup ambulance from off island to transport a heart attack or stroke victim - well there's the problem...

If my understanding of this article is correct, why isn't the County being held to the fire to provide more comprehensive critical care care transport services? Or has City Council said no to this in the past?

If the County refuses to step up to the plate, can Marco residents and businesses go about the fundraising needed to purchase a 2nd emergency vehicle? I realize it needs to be staffed etc. but how about a voluntary first aid squad? I have always had access in rural & not so rural sections of the country that have had voluntary first aid squads which provide excellent care and rely on fundraising to keep it all going.

But I guess the real question needs to be put forth to the current fire/first aid squad as to what they have seen as deficient arrival times to requests for care.

My vote would be NO to clinic - Yes to ambulance..but that is not an option on the ballot.

You should replace Mr. Magel or other members on council, for you seem to have a larger view of this issue and offer insightful questions and analysis that is truly lacking with this Council. It was again another rush job and given the makeup of some members of council, they could not distinguish a hastily prepared referendum from one that addresses a host of associated issues.

In my world, crappy and ill prepared proposals do not see the light of day. If they did, I would be spending all my time reviewing crap. How many times did the teacher drill into our heads, hastily prepared homework would be thrown in the wastebasket? I guess some lessons are never learned. Consequently, we can expect more ill prepared proposals from Mr. Magel....

But then again, Mr. Magel's goal to create a new taxing entity is so exciting, he is having palpitations.

This referendum is so ill prepared, so for now, I prescribe two aspirins with water and vote NO!!!!!!

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features