No Risk of Civista Closing

The article "Civista Asks Charles for $10 Million Loan" [Oct. 21] contained statements to which I feel compelled to respond.

We presented a detailed plan at the meeting with the commissioners for improving our financial situation and are implementing these strategies at this time.

The article indicated that Civista is losing money. On the contrary, as I said in my presentation, admissions and other service volumes which generate revenues have increased. In fact, they are at an all-time high.

We are fortunate that in this growing community, revenues from operations are greater than our expenses and exceed the budget for the current fiscal year. Our recent problem relates to the timing of cash receipts.

It's important to note that the growth in accounts receivable is not a result of the outsourcing of the billing function, but rather of issues related to the function of information systems and claims processing which produced a cash shortfall. We are aggressively addressing these issues.

As reimbursements shrink in efforts to control the cost of health care, health care providers across the country are under financial stress. We face similar pressures at Civista Health. However, we are not in jeopardy of closing.

I want to assure your readers that while we work to manage these issues, we are not compromising patient care. Civista Health has served Southern Maryland well for 60 years, and we are committed to the continuance of this care. We very much appreciate the encouragement and support we have received from our community.

CHRISTINE M. STEFANIDES

President and CEO,

Civista Health Inc.

La Plata

Be Patient With Hospital

Recently published news stories about our community hospital, Civista Medical Center, have informed the public of serious financial challenges facing the hospital. In particular, the hospital's inability in recent months to efficiently process the bills to be sent to Medicare and the insurance companies has resulted in millions of dollars of reduced cash flow to the hospital. Consequently, the hospital is running out of cash to pay its bills and has come to the county commissioners for funding assistance.

The commissioners are committed to our community hospital and stand by ready to help. But, and there is always a but, the hospital must have a plan to correct the billing problem.

The good news is that the problem is fixable. Civista's new management team, led by Chris Stefanides, and the commissioners are already cooperating in finding this solution. The hospital's auditors advise us that in the next month the problems with the billing system will be identified and a plan of corrective action can then be finalized.

At that point the commission can work with Civista in preparing a long-range financial plan which restores the hospital to financial health.

Until this occurs, the commissioners have agreed to short-term financial assistance to keep the hospital operating as normal. Civista and the commissioners are confident that the usual high level of patient care will not be impacted while we solve this problem.

Now is the time for all of us in Charles County to support our community hospital so it can continue to provide us with outstanding service.

MURRAY D. LEVY (D-At Large)

President, Charles County

Board of Commissioners

La Plata

Homeowner Headaches

I was very interested in your lead story in this Sunday's Southern Maryland Extra. I, too, live in Southern Maryland and 16 months ago paid $250,000 for a new house which, also, very rapidly became a fixer-upper. My tale of woes culminated in enough water leaking into the house to pull down a first-floor ceiling, run down interior walls, ruin carpet, pad and hardwood floors, and then create further damage in the finished basement--presenting me with an approximate $10,000 repair bill.

One of my other long-term problems is a potential health hazard of a sewage smell emanating from the basement bathroom, not when the bathroom is being used but when it rains.

I, too, resorted to having an independent inspection carried out. He told me that the roof had never been correctly finished and that there were leakage paths not only from the roof but through all of the front windows as well. Additionally there are aspects of the electrical wiring and plumbing that do not meet local building codes.

I was also concerned as to how these defects passed inspection, but I think the larger issue is that of how the builders and their contractors are licensed and subsequently monitored. The poor quality and unworkmanlike condition in which houses are presented for sale starts with them.

In this time of a building boom, it appears that anyone can say that he is a builder/plumber/roofer/etc. I now know of many new houses where the homeowners have been faced with a multitude of problems, and yet the builder continues to build new homes. I agree that the inspections should provide the safety net. But if the contractor repeatedly produces poor-quality work, then shouldn't his license be revoked?

A.W. WILSON

Leonardtown

An Answer to Prayer Issue

At a congregational meeting on Sunday, Oct. 17, the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Southern Maryland adopted the following statement.:

"The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Southern Maryland commends the Calvert County Board of Education for establishing a policy regarding prayer in the graduation exercises at all of its public schools.

"The policy encourages religious organizations to hold services or ceremonies within their own faith communities to recognize students within their congregation when they graduate. The policy would remove denominational prayers from public graduation ceremonies which are attended by people of many different faiths, holding diverse religious views.

"Our congregation includes residents of Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties. As a non-creedal church that asks every member to formulate his or her own religious beliefs, we know how important it is that diverse religious views be accorded equal respect. Our members hold different views about ultimate truth, and we believe none should be disparaged. We believe that is the essence of democracy."

STEVE NYSTROM

Board of Trustees Chairman

ANNE DUNN HERNDON

Pastor

Leonardtown

Siting a New School

The Calvert County Board of Education is facing a dilemma. We know we need a fourth high school. We may need a fifth high school. The dilemma is where to place the fourth high school knowing we might need a fifth. The board is examining projections now to help them decide where to place our next high school.

Parents for Equitable Schools (PFES) challenges the accuracy of the board's projected numbers. If we are to believe board projections have been mostly accurate (as they have been lauded by more than one board member), then the brand-new Dowell Elementary School was planned to open its doors overcrowded.

According to the school board, the county's newest school is currently its most crowded! (Some classes are already at 30 or 31 students.) Did the board plan it that way, or are projections not reflecting reality? Someone is obviously ignoring the real rate of growth that continues in and around Lusby.

We've already experienced what schools located close to a boundary do to the entire county. The areas closely surrounding those schools immediately benefit with only about 70 percent of building capacity (except in Lusby), while other schools in the county receive no relief and remain overcrowded (as in Lusby).

This county should therefore demand the next high school be located and built as if this will be the last high school this county will build.

Placement in the midsection of the county will ensure all residents will benefit from such a large outlay of money. Subsequent redistricting must relieve overcrowding at all three high schools and fairly affect each school.

Any other placement is nothing but a guess where growth might occur. If a fifth high school is needed, it should be placed wherever that future growth actually occurs.

PFES suggests placement of our next high school in the middle area of the county, as a safe bet no matter where future growth occurs.

LISA M. BOONE

Lusby

A Road Idea Full of Holes

The Southern Maryland Extra had a real fine letter to the editor, written by Joan Dunn of La Plata [Sept. 26], about the Route 301 bypass in Waldorf. Very fine indeed--except for one small flaw, a faulty and defective idea. That is to build an elevated center section of Route 301 to be used as a throughway only.

Wonderful and jim-dandy, excellent in its class. But do you want to drive (if you might say) underneath or maybe directly beneath the construction of this elevated center section of Route 301? Where would you reroute all the traffic? I don't think the county, state or the construction company has that great of insurance to cover any damage from fallen trash from above on your car or my car, or bodily injury to someone.

Traffic would have to be detoured--to where? To be elevated along the railroad track that runs through Waldorf, fine, but not down the center of Route 301.

There is a traffic problem through Waldorf now, and then to have construction right down the middle of Route 301, through the middle of Waldorf to boot, something to equalize a fretting nightmarish experience, wouldn't you say?

Oh, my God, what a nightmare indeed to over 200,000 commuters a day. Where would you put the supply needed? How would you get it up to the elevation needed to build the roadway that is elevated? Where would you put the equipment for construction?

BERNIE PIPICH

Cobb Island

Don't Force Child Support

A grievous wrong is happening throughout the United States against the separated parents being forced to pay child support by court order, and this letter is an attempt of reason to suggest a redress to the painful injustice.

For the law has established a debilitating price tag to parenting and is attempting to force the child support by fear and jails and pillage. And in that process the law has violated the trust and privilege of its place. In other countries such a thing can be seen as obscure, but in the United States and the state of Maryland . . . where the representation of the populace has self-created this scapegoat caste, where it has classified the disenfranchised parents as deadbeats and irresponsible . . . that is simply not acceptable.

It is an age-old sickness of governments to blame a depressed and unpopular class of people for its self-created ills--which the laws of child support has done. And it, too, is doomed to fail as all forms of tyranny eventually fall.

If only the representation had trusted the American parents instead of interfering, then the politically demonized deadbeat would never have existed. So long as the force in child support is maintained, there can not be peace nor settlement nor fair and equitable government in this state or this country.

The claim to the rightness of government-orchestrated child support seems so very correct so long as the unheard rebuttals of direct, honest, legitimate reasons for not paying the court order continue to be silenced and suppressed and denied.

But those hidden truths are sweltering and fuming, never to leave, and remaining a testimonial against the wanton injustices of pillage and plunder and extortion and slander and thievery that make up the child support enforcement and are so dishonorable to our historical legalistic values and heritage.

JAMES P. CUSICK SR.

Leonardtown

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