Ten years ago the people of Biggs, Gridley, Richvale and the surrounding areas passed the formation of a special tax, Measure C with a 77 percent approval to tax themselves $70 per parcel in order for Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital to continue to offer 24 hour Emergency Services. This special tax was set to expire after a period of ten years.
Since November 2006, many new services have been added along with State-of-The-Art equipment including the 64 Slice CT Scanner, the same technology as all area hospitals use.
As Hospital CEO Steve Stark presented the request to put Measure C on the November ballot to the Cities of Gridley and Biggs the common concern for both cities was the name being changed to Orchard Hospital.
Stark was not here at that time, but is familiar with the concerns expressed and stated that when Measure C passed in 2006 the $300,000 raised was the amount the Emergency Department was losing per year. The hospital now reports losing $1 million a year. Stark explained that the hospital serves many Medi-Cal patients and only receives $35 for services, $50 if x-rays are done.
Stark told Biggs Council members that he has seen a lot of support since coming on board in January 2015.
Stark explained that it takes 33 minutes to save a life, in the 33 minutes it would take to drive from Orchard Hospital to Enloe Medical Center in Chico, a person seriously hurt or having a heart attack or stroke could be saved.
"If you are caring for a spouse in a medical emergency, you will thank God that you don't have to drive - or waste those 33 minutes," a brochure provided by Stark stated.
Other facts given, "Outpatients with chest pain or possible heart attack who received drugs to break up blood clots within 30 minutes of arrival had a 65 percent better chance at recovery," and "Patients given a blood thinning drug to restore blood flow in the brain within 90 minutes of their symptoms were two and a half times more likely to have a good recovery than those not given the drug."
In order for the successor tax to appear on the ballot, both the Cities of Gridley and Biggs must approve.
Gridley Council members voted 4-1 to give approval with Councilman Owen Stiles abstaining Monday night.
In a special meeting called by the City of Biggs Tuesday night, Council members, in particular Mayor Roger Frith had a few concerns but stated they want the hospital to continue and know how important it is to have a hospital.
Mayor Frith's concern was that in 2006 people voted approval in order to keep the hospital open. Ten years later, the concern for staying open is not the driving force as the hospital continues to do better, enabling the addition of new services.
"We continue to look at what our community needs, such as new providers coming and recently adding Geriatric/Psychology," Stark stated.
"In any business, If you aren't moving ahead you are not doing well," he stated.
He also stated at both meetings that the hospital once again hired Bill Barry Associates to call area residents to get an idea of how the successor tax would be accepted by the voters and received favorable comments although the subject of the name change came up often.
"The survey shows good results with people even saying they would pay more but we don't want to do that," Stark told Council members.
Orchard Hospital Board CFO Ed Becker stated people appreciate having a hospital and developers would not build in an area without one.
"The Medical Specialty Center sees between 1,800 and 2,000 patients per month, the ER 1,000 every month. They like the medical services here. A community without a hospital is completely different," Becker said.
"We are the only hospital on Highway 99 between Sacramento and Redding," he stated.
Orchard Hospital averages between 500 and 600 Emergency room visits per month.
Tuesday night's presentation was not on the agenda for vote and will appear on the City of Biggs agenda for their June 14, 2016 meeting. Both Cities must approve the inclusion on the November ballot.