I find myself in the unfortunate position of having to clarify my comments regarding the expansion of the Baker County Health Department’s dental wing due to an effort to distort the facts by persons within the department’s administration.
I fully support medical and dental care for indigent citizens in Baker County. To do otherwise would be inhumane.
I never said I spoke to “all” nor did I specifically name any dentist in Baker County who stated he or she was against the expansion [from four to eight dental chairs], contrary to what [BCHD assistant director] Terrenia Staier or [director] Kerry Dunlavey implied or said after a flurry of calls.
What I did say can be located on page eight of the [county commission] minutes, to wit: “I do know that the ones that I spoke to specifically said that they did not support it.”
That means I had not spoken to “all” and the expansion would only be opposed if there was an intention to accept private insurance or self-pay at a reduced rate due to a belief it would negatively impact private practice.
Accepting insurance and private pay is the current practice [of the health department] on the medical side.
If every dentist in the state of Florida favored the expansion, I would still not support the use of public funds to promote competition of government-funded services against the private sector. It is fundamentally unfair and I oppose it.
Had I been able to get 100 percent assurance that would not occur in the future, I would have cast a vote in favor of the expansion.
I support the health department’s efforts to provide quality health and dental care, which they do with a professional and caring staff. I also have a commitment to the people to question and ensure that public funds are used as intended in the best interest of the county as a whole.
If I am wrong in this endeavor, I will just have to be wrong. I have and will continue to be diligent in the responsibilities that the public has entrusted to me. I will not rubber stamp approval for funds from public coffers just because it has been requested.
It is my duty to represent equally without regard for status, and I feel that I have done so. If you have comments or questions, please contact me at the number or address below.
Michael Crews, Baker County Commission chairman