By editorial board • 

Care centers shouldn’t be scare centers

Understandably, McMinnville care centers oppose reimbursing the city for the cost of business licensing overhead and ambulance responses for unjustified 911 calls. But they should stop scaring voters — and their elderly and vulnerable residents — for political gain.
A May 21 mailer to McMinnville voters accused the city of trying to “balance its budget on the backs of McMinnville’s senior care communities,” and by extension their residents. It issued an “urgent” call to oppose the new measures, alleging they “target and blatantly discriminate against senior care communities.”
That type of rhetoric is too harsh to support.
There are two elements at issue: business licensing fees of $500 per center initially and $200 per center bed annually thereafter, based on the premise the city spends more resources regulating care centers than other types of businesses, and a fine of up to $1,500 for unwarranted emergency service calls, based on the premise city medics are being called out to provide routine care that center personnel should be providing on their own. The city is barring centers from passing along any fines they incur, but leaving it to center discretion on the licensing fees.
Both assessments seem eminently defensible. It is possible for reasonable people to oppose them, but also possible for reasonable people to support them.
The flier also alleges, with regard to assessment for unjustified EMS calls, “These high fines might make some care communities think twice about dialing 911, potentially putting the health and well-being of elderly residents in jeopardy.”
Well, they are, in fact, aimed at making care personnel consider before dialing 911. But there is no intent, nor any reasonable prospect, for the crackdown on a long tradition of frivolous requests to deter placement of legitimate calls.
Any center letting that happen would encounter a prospect far worse than a $1,500 fine. It would face potential six- or seven-number litigation.
Loose allegations about balancing budgets on the backs of seniors, punitively targeting them, blatantly discriminating against them and imperiling their health and well-being are over the top.
It has no place in attempts to resolve the underlying public issues. That can be accomplished, and rightfully should be, without flights of superheated rhetoric.  
Care center operators can criticize the city all they want, if they feel unnecessary regulations cause needless, unfair or unjustified expenses. And to be sure, the per-bed fee could cost larger centers as much as $20,000 a year.
Issuing misleading propaganda calculated to scare people, however, fails to make that case. It suggests that falling short on appeal to intellect, they are falling back on stoking emotion.



Agree. But misleading propaganda to scare people is politics today.


NR staff. Put down the editorial pen and pick up the investigative journalism pen. Who are making these unnecessary 911 calls? The flier claims it’s the care home staff, is it them or someone else? Has anyone tried to listen to samples of some of 911 calls? They are public records are they not? Have any local homes been fined by the state for being short staffed? Could these calls be coming from residents that are not being taken care of and have no where else to turn. Have there been any criminal indictments against an employee of a local home for actions relating to patient care or lack there of? If such Indictments happened would they not be public records? If license of said person were suspended as a result of actions leading to the indictment would that not be a public record as well? Are there penalties levied against a local home that was one of the largest fines in DHS history? If so, wouldn’t they be public records? If there were civil lawsuits pending in Yamhill county against said staff and care center would those not be public records?

Seems to me that there a lot of questions to ask the appropriate people to get to the bottom of the 911 situation. It’s public records, you wouldn’t have to dig too far.

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