Letters to the Editor

Taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize for-profit Myrtle Beach hospital

It is interesting to learn that Myrtle Beach is considering a subsidy of about $1 million to the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center to assist in the expansion of facilities.

Grand Strand Regional Medical Center is owned by Hospital Corporation of America, a for-profit corporation which owns and operates hospitals throughout the United States and currently has annual net income on the order of two billion dollars.

This corporation is well able to finance any required capital expansion. Further, in the case of Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, such expansion of facilities and capabilities are revenue-driven. For Myrtle Beach to give Grand Strand a subsidy is the ultimate example of “bringing coals to Newcastle.”

In 2007, Grand Strand filed a legal challenge as a petitioner in the South Carolina Administrative Law Court against the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to deny the Loris Seacoast Medical Center Certificate of Need application requesting expansion of inpatient facilities to add 50 patient beds. Fortunately, the administrative law judge ruled against Grand Strand.

This action was at best a demonstration of abject greed, as well as an attempt to stifle competition, and was clearly not in the best interests of the North Strand community. Fortunately, the administrative law judge ruled in favor of Loris Seacoast.

Subsequently, the McLeod Health organization acquired the Loris and Seacoast hospitals and have made, and continue to make, significant capital improvements to the Seacoast facility to better serve the community. McLeod Health is a locally owned, not-for-profit organization. In my opinion, it has the interests of the communities it serves as a high priority.

In fact, in a few years McLeod Seacoast will have the capabilities and staffing to perform invasive heart procedures, which currently can be done locally at Grand Strand.

The writer lives in Longs.