About Amy Umble:
Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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The changing medical landscape

Joe Wilson

One measure of how the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center has already changed the health care landscape in Fredericksburg can be found in a candid admission last night by Joe Wilson.

The place was Mary Washington Hospital. The occasion was a town hall meeting called by the hospital to explain a proposed change in the way the hospital is governed. Wilson was one of the speakers. He is a local businessman, former member of City Council, longtime member of the hospital’s Board of Trustees and chairman of its new Citizen Advisory Council.

Wilson said that Mary Washington, a non-profit company,  has done a good job of meeting its obligation to serve the community. But it’s done a poor job, he added, of calculating and touting this “community benefit.” Wilson said that Mary Washington spent $53 million in 2009 on charity care for the poor, grants, cash and in-kind support for local nonprofit organizations, and education and research programs to improve the community’s health.

“Now that we have a competitor in town, we felt that it was vitally important that we be able to explain to the community exactly what we contribute,” Wilson said. “We know that there will a day when HCA and the Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center will stand up in front of the board of  supervisors with that giant check representing the taxes that they pay and say, ‘Here, you are. We’ve contributed X millions of dollars in taxes to the local economy.’ ”

When that day comes, Wilson said, Mary Washington should be able to point to its community involvement and say, “We’ve worked hard and rightfully earned our not-for-profit tax status.”