Health care is so expensive. But it's not something you can cross off your shopping list like, "Oh, I think we can do without the cream cheese this week." The deal is, healthcare if also mandatory . . . unless you want to suffer some truly terrible circumstances. That's why we're so proud of our financial team for struggling over the past months to find a bona fide way to help area families deal with this sometimes overwhelming expense (healthcare . . . not cream cheese). Our CEO/Administrator Jim Parrish, our Chief Financial Officer Sandi Lehman and others have spent long hours looking at options, crunching numbers and finally arriving at what they believe will truly help local families: an expanded Charity Care Program. Previously, HGH's charity care policy helped patients whose household income was at or below 144 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Beginning March 1, 2013, the hospital expanded its Charity Care Program to 400 percent of federal poverty guidelines. This is a significant increase and will reach many more people in need. The hospital considered many options for extending help to local residents, including cutting prices and/or providing large discounts for Humboldt County residents. But nearly every one of those scenarios resulted in big savings for insurance companies, and that's not who we wanted to help. The expanded Charity Care Program is a percentage based on income, so it's relative to each household. Even if your household is thousands of dollars above the federal poverty level, you still may qualify. We're going to host an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 19, in the Sarah Winnemucca conference room. Spread the word, or stop by yourself and see if this expansion might be just the thing for you.