TOPPENISH, Wash. — Toppenish community members are considering forming a public hospital district to help bring back labor and delivery services to Astria Toppenish Hospital.
Dr. Jordann Loehr, an OBGYN and community member, said it would involve Lower Valley residents to contribute a little bit in property taxes that would be put toward hospital services, such as those labor and delivery services that are now gone.
Loehr said the public hospital district arrangement has worked well at Prosser Memorial Hospital and she believes it could work in Toppenish as well.
“It could also provide that security for our community, that regardless of what institution is coming through, whether it’s Astria or any of the other entities that have owned the hospital before,” Loehr said. “It’s ours. It belongs to our community.”
Loehr said the first step would be to establish boundaries. She said it would likely make sense to include all of the Lower Valley except the parts that belong to the Yakama Nation, because it’s a sovereign nation that can’t be taxed.
However, Loehr said while they wouldn’t be taxed, they would be fully included in the process because they’re a part of the community, too and they also rely on the services provided at Astria Toppenish Hospital.
Loehr said with the district boundaries they’re currently exploring, they’ve identified a $4 million tax base in the Lower Valley, not including financial contribution from the Yakama Nation.
Once community members agree on boundaries and a plan, Loehr said the Yakima County Board of Commissioners would have to agree before the Feb. 24 deadline to put the issue of a public hospital district on the next ballot.
Loehr said then, voters would have to vote yes on April 25 to create a public hospital district. She said anyone interested in learning more about public hospital districts can come to a meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Iglesia del Valle church at 308 E. Toppenish Ave.