A Question of Choice

We have all heard a lot of discussion about the possibility of a new hospital in Loudoun County. It all boils down to this: Are you and your family better off being served by one hospital, as has been the case in Loudoun for the past 90 years, or do you want more health care options and additional services as our community grows?

When Loudoun Hospital moved from Leesburg to Lansdowne, it decreased the number of beds. And this was during a period of tremendous growth! Loudoun Hospital now wants to add beds to meet our growing demands for heath care services. I support the efforts. As the second fastest-growing county in the United States, there is ample need for both Loudoun and Broadlands hospitals.

Loudoun Hospital CEO Rodney Huebbers has done a great job turning around the fiscal mess at the hospital. But, the record financial losses and all too frequent excessive waiting lines at the emergency room have caused a great deal of concern. When we read in the newspaper that the ER goes into a "bypass" status because it can't handle any more patients, what do you think goes through a person's mind if the need for ER care arises?

It seems I can't open a newspaper these days without seeing a full-page ad from Loudoun Hospital. I wish they would put all that money into improving services rather trying to fight off the competition of a new hospital. I remember all the scare tactics that AT&T used when the government was considering allowing competition in the communications industry. We now have better service at a much better price. Likewise, opening a Broadlands hospital would mean better medical service for all of us. It would force Loudoun and every other health care provider to be more responsive to the needs of our citizens -- their customers.

I keep hearing about a study by KPMG saying that a Broadlands hospital would cause the financial ruin of Loudoun Hospital. This is the study that Loudoun Hospital paid $30,000 to come up with. When someone pays that much money to consultants, what do you think they are going to say? Didn't we just see that with Enron and Arthur Anderson? I would like to see what a nonbiased study would say.

Finally, a note to our elected officials who have an impact on this process: Listen to the needs of the people, not the influence of lobbyists. Don't deny us the options that we deserve: to choose who we want to see and go where we want to go to treat our families in times of medical need.

The buzzword for the past three years has been "smart growth." Any sound, rational plan for the future must include public health and safety as crucial components in building the Loudoun County of the 21st century. Don't be shortsighted.

Are we better off today with one hospital operating at capacity, or would we be better off tomorrow with two hospitals? The answer is obvious.

William M. Soltesz

Ashburn

Democracy in Action

On behalf of the citizens of Richland Acres in Sterling, I would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors.

On Dec. 2, I witnessed a "sterling" example of democracy in action as the board implemented the spirit and the letter of the law to resolve the issue of the massive dry cleaning franchise attempting to locate in our modest-size neighborhood shopping center. After many months of heated words and emotions, common sense and finesse prevailed as our leadership put closure to this issue that threatened our health and our environment.

In particular, Richland residents would like to acknowledge the support of Supervisor William D. Bogard (I-Sugarland Run).

Our unique, unpretentious community will sleep tight tonight knowing that tomorrow we can continue to relish the clean atmosphere and sweet, unpolluted drinking water from our wells.

A sincere, heartfelt "thank you" to our supervisors, who delivered the only logical conclusion to avert a potential environmental disaster.

Lyn Montgomery Wanagel,

Richland-Kentland

Citizens Association

Sterling