Brenda Romero shows off new surgery suite

Española Hospital Chief Executive Brenda Romero shows visitors in July 2019 some of the gadgetry in the new operating room, which was partially funded by the mill levy in front of voters Nov. 3.

    The question of whether to continue the 4.25 mill levy that partially funds Española Hospital will be on this year’s ballot.

    Rio Arriba County voters will have the opportunity to decide whether they want to continue paying $4.25 for every $1,000 of taxable property in order to support the Hospital and the clinics in Rio Arriba County.

    Since the mid-1990s, the question has reappeared every eight years, and voters have always approved the mill levy.

    It generates approximately $3.1 million annually, Hospital Chief Executive Brenda Romero stated in a Sept. 16 presentation to the Rio Arriba County Health Council.

    Throughout the years, though, the amount it brings in has been decreasing, she said in a Sept. 23 phone call.

    The County allocates 90 percent of the money to the Hospital, which uses it to expand facilities and purchase new equipment, she said.

    La Clinica del Pueblo de Rio Arriba and El Centro Family Health each receive 3.35 percent, Hoy Recovery receives 1.8 percent and Las Clinicas del Norte receives 1.5 percent, she said.

    El Centro Chief Executive Officer Lore Pease said El Centro uses the money from the Mill Levy to waive or adjust fees for low-income patients.

    “Everything we get we truly appreciate, because we use that money to offer free services,” she said.

    Over the past three years funding from the mill levy made up about 4.5 percent of the Hospital’s operating revenue.

    In the past, the Hospital has used the funding to upgrade and expand surgical areas, build a new 25,000 square foot emergency department and purchase ambulances and emergency equipment.

    Romero said the Hospital must follow a series of regulatory expectations regarding spacing, including rules around air exchange, sterile areas and temperature, and that the mill levy money helps the Hospital to make the adjustments necessary to follow those regulations.

    If voters do not approve the mill levy this year, the Hospital would have to go through a request process with Presbyterian and line up behind other Presbyterian facilities for funding, she said.

    “We probably would wait longer and maybe not have everything we have,” she said.

    She wants voters to know that approving the mill levy again will not raise their taxes, as they have already been paying it for the past eight years.

    Voting for the measure will help ensure that the citizens of Rio Arriba can continue to access healthcare close to home, she said.

    “We would like to thank the citizens of Rio Arriba County for their support throughout all this time, and we know it’s a really challenging time for everyone but again we want to recognize and tell them that we appreciate their support,” she said.

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