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Paynesville Press - April 17, 2002

Eden Lake Township considers joining the hospital district

By Michael Jacobson

Voters in Eden Lake Township will decide whether to join the Paynesville Area Hospital District at the polls in November.

The Eden Lake Township Board of Supervisors voted to put the question of joining the hospital district to a referendum at the general election in November after hearing a presentation from Paynesville Area Health Care System (PAHCS) CEO Willie LaCroix at their board meeting on Tuesday, April 8, at the fire hall in Eden Valley.

The board had invited LaCroix to address the issue of joining the hospital district and to answer questions regarding PAHCS and the hospital district.

Under the PAHCS name, the hospital district operates a 30-bed acute-care hospital, a 64-bed nursing home, senior housing, and a clinic in Paynesville. It also has six satellite clinics, including one in Eden Valley.

As of May 1, PAHCS will purchase two more nursing homes: the Good Samaritan Care Center in Paynesville and Hilltop Good Samaritan Center in Watkins.

The hospital started as a city facility in the 1950s, but ownership was transferred to the district ten years ago, in June 1992. Currently, seven cities - Eden Valley, Lake Henry, Paynesville, Regal, Richmond, Roscoe, and St. Martin - and four townships - Paynesville, Roseville, Union Grove, and Zion - belong to the district.

The hospital district was formed to enable the district to borrow money more effectively, thanks to its larger tax base. The hospital district does have taxing authority but has never used it.

"The advantage to the hospital district in having Eden Lake Township join the district currently is to create a broader base to borrow money," said LaCroix at the meeting. The district gets better interest rates by having a broader base, he added.

LaCroix also gave a brief history of the hospital and the hospital district and discussed recent budget and census numbers.

Eden Lake Township was asked to join the hospital district back in 1992 when it formed, but declined at that time.

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