Saturday, December 03, 2022

EDITORIAL: What's behind the nasty hospital rumors

| November 18, 2022 1:00 AM

As both the largest and the most essential employer in North Idaho, how Kootenai Health goes matters to each of us.

But beware ulterior motives from outside the organization, which has become a magnet for malignant rumors and misinformation. When you hear stuff like the hospital’s about to be sold or leadership is trying to pull a secret midnight maneuver by potentially shifting to nonprofit status, smell the rat and understand that someone's trying to undermine the institution.

Hospital leaders have been an open book on exploring nonprofit status, a process that will take time and include public opinion after more facts are assembled. Hundreds of hospitals nationally have gone that route, and it’s Kootenai Health officials’ responsibility to fully explore why and see if it fits our community.

They’re being criticized by some, apparently for not explaining what they don’t yet know and therefore have not yet decided about adopting a nonprofit model. If hospital leaders are trying to keep the process secret, they’re doing a very poor job of it: They created and update a site where anyone can see exactly what’s going on:

Meantime, hospital leaders recently put to rest the latest groundless rumor of an impending sale. The organization’s collaboration with other medical professionals — that’s what smart people with tight budgets, personnel challenges and fiduciary and ethical responsibilities do — might have fueled some of those rumors, but we suspect it goes deeper than that.

Since the COVID outbreak in particular, our hospital has been under attack. From people who didn’t want to be vaccinated and felt the organization was overstepping its bounds, Kootenai Health became an enemy.

Many of those seething feelings haven’t subsided. Instead they feed an attack machine that targets leaders who supported public health measures, including North Idaho College’s former president, Gov. Brad Little, Coeur d'Alene School Board trustees and, yes, the leading health institution in this and many other communities.

That’s both sad and unjustified. The same people who wish either harm to or control over your hospital would be treated as promptly and professionally as the hospital’s most benevolent donors.

So when some arsenic-laced rumors trickle into your newsfeed or coffee klatsch conversation, please, don’t accept them at face value. Pay attention to what the hospital is actually doing, and you’ll see that the thousands of Kootenai Health employees, as well as the organization's leaders, are on your side.

This Sunday, we’ll spotlight just one of the ways your hospital is answering an urgent call from the community it serves so well.

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