Serving the disabled

EDITORIALS

BY ART CULLEN

The Faith, Hope & Charity Board of Directors respects its own tradition and the memory of institutional founders by merging into Hope Haven of Rock Valley. Hope Haven is a much larger organization with currently the financial wherewithal to withstand the buffets of the deteriorating managed care environment in Iowa. Hope Haven assures us that profoundly challenged children will continue to be served for residential and educational services with the love that Faith, Hope & Charity was founded with more than 50 years ago by local families.

It has expanded and survived because of commitment from Storm Lake and expert leadership through the years. But it has always been a struggle, especially lately. FH&C started to explore a merger a couple years ago when the Branstad Administration began its privatization of Medicaid. The result has been absolutely disastrous: lower rates dragged out by late payments from the government and insurance companies. All sorts of service providers have been harmed irrevocably — North Lake Manor was forced to close, which was a tremendous upheaval for local families and employees. Hospitals, health clinics and psych wards are struggling to make do with this “reformed” Medicaid system. In the end, we have no doubt it will cost as as much more than Branstad & Co. figured it would save taxpayers.

FH&C was fortunate, because of its sound management, to attract a suitable merger in Hope Haven. It shares values with the Storm Lake institution, and the management knows each other well. But, it still saddens us that this had to happen. You would think that a community the size of Storm Lake would be able to support this type of independent facility with sufficient state and federal government support. But it can’t, because we don’t put our money where our mouth is where the least among us are concerned. Disability rights groups don’t have the same voice as big insurance companies and the Iowa Taxpayers Association.

Storm Lake is fortunate to find a new partner in Hope Haven. When the screws get put down tighter, it makes one wonder how the larger organization is supposed to survive. Ultimately, the budget is spent on aides and teachers and nurses working with children. You don’t do that on the cheap, unless you are Iowa, where the powerful put the screws to the disabled, the elderly and the infirm every chance we get.

A low-cost amenity

People have raised questions about the utility of Sunrise Pointe Golf Course, whose official name is “The Muni.” It has lost $48,000 since 2013, and some wonder how long that can go on. Why should the city subsidize a golf course? It has for a long, long time at that quaint clapboard clubhouse. (A bit rich in history: The course was laid on land leased long-term from the C.H. Moore Trust. Moore was the law partner of Abraham Lincoln in Springfield. The trust was enriched by land grants through the Illinois Central Railroad, which Moore and Lincoln represented. The city bought the land from the Moore Trust when it expired about 20 years ago.)

Since Lake Creek Country Club was formed in the 1970s, The Muni has been the course for the duffers or those interested in shooting a quick round. It’s an easy course accessible to everyone. We’re not much on golf, preferring to take our walks without looking for a ball along the lakeshore. But we like to know that there is a place in town even if it takes a small subsidy from the city to keep it going for the players who may retire to the 10th hole at Brewster’s, Puff’s or Mo’s.

The city probably can make the operation break even or maybe even post a small profit. If not, the minimal cost should not anguish us so much as missing a putt would. It’s a park, with a golf course on it. Sure you could do other things with the property. Build some more condos or something or lay in a parking lot. We prefer to see that familiar old green site along Lakeshore Drive as we roll into town telling us we are home.