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Letter to the Editor: Says ARH’s Transy scholarship program is insult to Appalachia

To the Editor:

I read with interest and some dismay the recent article re: the scholarship Appalachian Regional Healthcare (ARH) is providing students who will attend Transylvania University, Lexington, Kentucky. ARH is a health care agency that provides no services in central Kentucky, but chooses to continue to spend millions of dollars earned from its hospitals in Appalachia to keep its top executives living in Lexington!

Transylvania is an excellent and very expensive university. The university publishes its cost of attendance at $54,080 per year. This doesn’t include the tremendous cost of transportation from their home in Appalachia to Lexington numerous times for the students from Appalachia. Without a tremendous amount of taxpayer-financed student aid, the average student in Appalachia could not afford to attend this top university.

There are many excellent educational institutions in Appalachia. Alice Lloyd College, the University of the Cumberlands, the University of Pikeville, Union College, and many of the Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges offer high quality, affordable educational opportunities for students here in Appalachia. Which begs the question, Why didn’t ARH partner with any of these excellent institutions to provide opportunity for students in the area where all their services are located?

Historically, robber barons associated with the coal industry and took all the profits from their mining operations in Appalachia out of the area to their home region. Ironically, ARH, utilizing hospital facilities built by coal miners through the United Mine Workers of America, and even though all their hospitals are located in Appalachia, seems to think their home is central Kentucky! Maybe because all of their top executives live there? This is an insult to all people living in Appalachia who are the only people who use and pay for services of ARH!

I would suggest that any and all board members of ARH who voted for this partnership, along with any and all executives of ARH who promoted this partnership, resign in disgrace. Further, no person should accept a position with ARH in the future that is located outside the area where the service is located.

Maybe the University of Kentucky Medical Center Hospital, the Central Baptist Hospital and the Catholic Health Initiative Hospital would consider funding scholarships in partnership with many of our excellent educational institutions here in Appalachia? However, please don’t hold your breath until this happens!

If ARH expects people in Appalachia to continue to pay for their services, they should immediately move their administrative offices to the region where their services are located. If they don’t, then residents of Appalachia should protest any future acquisition or expansion of ARH in Appalachia and providers in Appalachia should get together, plan and build our own hospital facilities to serve our people.

BENNY RAY BAILEY, P.H.D.
Hindman

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