Our View: County can ill afford petty squabbling on Baptist deal

While we would fully expected our elected representative to be good stewards of our tax dollars and certainly involve themselves in such major agreements such as this pending deal with Baptist Hospital we hope some of the political antics being played out doesn’t jeopardize the future of primary health care in Crittenden County. Let’s face it, we doubt seriously many, if any, of the politicians serving on this quorum court, have the professional expertise to dissect the intricate complexities of negotiating a major business deal. We fully understand that there may be legitimate questions that can and should be asked but when it comes to the minute details this is why we, as concerned county taxpayers, depend on our reputable county legal attorney. Let it also be made clear that Baptist Memorial Health Care, the largest private healthcare provider in the region with 14 hospitals in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi won’t operate a major hospital in Crittenden County without investing a substantial amount of their own money, time and talent. There is a clear difference between asking some basic and legitimate questions and political grandstanding, and rest assured that we seriously doubt a legitimate and successful entity as large as Baptist Memorial Health Care is willing to put up with any shenanigans. As a matter of fact, we would expect Baptist officials will slam the book shut so fast on this deal it would make these elected justices’ heads spin. For example, Justice Vickie Robertson is still complaining and wants someone, just someone she says, to help her understand. What Robertson apparently doesn’t have a clue to is why Baptist wants to purchase the land that they will then turn around and sell it to the county at cost. How many times does it take to explain to this elected official that Baptist became entangled in a lawsuit in Oxford, Ms., that went all the way to the state Supreme Court because rival developers stalled the project for three years. County Attorney Joe Rogers attempted to explain to Justice Robertson as well as Justice Ronnie Sturch that Baptist doesn’t want to get bogged down in political issues and a battle over where the hospital is going to be located. This is perfectly understandable but this elected representative of the people Robertson serves just doesn’t “understand.” Then there are those who want days to mull over the details as if they will even understand the fine print, and others who think things are going too fast for them to know what is going on. The situation boils down to being smart enough to negotiate a business deal that is beneficial to all concerned, which in this case involves providing the citizens of Crittenden County with a new and modern hospital fully capable of providing emergency care. Now then, if these low-knowledged elected officials continue to jack around like they are doing they are very likely to poison the deal leaving Judge Woody Wheeless with the arduous task of begging some other hospital provider to locate here so they too can experience the pleasure of explaining themselves to a bunch of “confused” elected officials.

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