Voters to decide on tax for West Cal Cam funding

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

SULPHUR, LA (KPLC) - Voters in Wards 4 and 7 of Calcasieu Parish and voters in the Hackberry area of Cameron Parish will decide March 27 on a property tax to benefit West Cal Cam Hospital.  The 6.95 mill tax would provide money to improve, maintain, operate and otherwise support hospital facilities of the hospital district.  

Besides the main hospital at 701 Cypress Street in Sulphur, they also operate two rural health clinics - one in Hackberry and one in Vinton. The hospital service district also operates the Genesis Therapeutic Riding Center.

We all want top notch facilities if we must go to the hospital.  But officials at West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital say a tax to provide more money is needed to run the facility and provide other care for people west of the river.

Officials blame the poor economy and cuts in Medicare and Medicaid for inadequate revenue. West Calcasieu Cameron hospital is a community hospital owned by the public that provides services to people in Sulphur, Westlake, Hackberry and Vinton for more than fifty years now.

Four years ago the people approved a bond issue to build new buildings and buy new equipment to help provide the latest in health care advancements. But now they find they don't have enough money coming in to operate and maintain the facility. Chairman of the board Bobby LeTard says it's due partly to the economy and reductions in medicare and medicaid reimbursements. "Shortfalls that have resulted from a decline in revenue, cuts in medicare, increased expenses," said LeTard.

Hospital officials say there are more uninsured patients and those who have higher deductibles, as well as increased costs to maintain facilities and equipment. LeTard explained, "We think of it as a quality of life issue in that when you need services at a hospital, It's not a time to hope that when you get there that you're in good shape. You need to know ahead of time that when you go they're in good shape."

J. W. Peloquin is director of radiology. He feels strongly about making sure people in the community have the best health care they can get. He's been out pounding the pavement to telling anyone who will listen why he thinks the tax is needed."Catholic daughters to the First Baptist Church, wherever we can get it in front of people because the other thing that we've taken the opportunity to do is to educate the public on the fact that the hospital is a community hospital, the taxpayers do own this hospital and we want them to be a part of the hospital and we're going to live our mission, vision and values."

Besides the hospital, the funds would help support rural health clinics in Vinton and Hackberry along with the Therapeutic Riding Center. If approved the property tax would be capped at 6.95mills and would run for ten years. If approved the tax would bring in an estimated $5 million a year.

Again the election is March 27th when the polls will open at 6 a.m. and stay open until 8 p.m.. For more details on the proposed property tax click here.

Tomorrow at six we'll talk to the two men running for mayor of sulphur.

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