Letters to the editor - 11/24

November 25, 2002

Hospital should not abandon Hagerstown

To the editor:

Since I served on the board of directors of the Washington County Hospital for 11 years, I can honestly say that all the other directors and the hospital staff were truly dedicated to serving the community. Since then many new faces have appeared on the board and on the staff of the hospital and I am sure that they are just as dedicated as we were.

I am convinced that those who want to move the hospital out in the country sincerely believe that it is the right thing to do. That does not make it so. I also believe that once an idea starts to gain momentum it is easier to go along with the idea than to raise objections and be labeled a reactionary "naysayer" with no imagination.

It is exciting to look at an artist's rendering of what the "new building" will look like and to fantasize how great it will be to be able to look at the finished building and see what you have accomplished.


However, a move that has the potential for such a catastrophic effect on your community should be approached with extreme vision, making sure that all the negative effects of the move receive as much attention as do the positive ideas.

Not all the effects of staying downtown and closer to those you serve and those employees who make up the bulk of the staff are negative. There are many very positive things that can be accomplished downtown that in my opinion outweigh the reasons for moving out in the country.

There are many negative things about locating in the Robinwood area that need to be put before the public now, before any final decisions are made. After all, at least in theory, the citizens of the community are the owners of the hospital and they should have the opportunity to express themselves as to what is being done with their hospital.

There are many different options available to the hospital in the downtown area that have not been fully discussed. There should be sincere and active discussions between the hospital staff and the city staff. An architectural firm should be hired jointly by the city and the hospital with the task of thoroughly investigating all the various opportunities of locating in close.

Keeping the hospital downtown is not just a knee-jerk reaction that the city will be hurt financially if the hospital moves out in the country, but it is a concern for the people who rely on the hospital for acute and emergency care. Yes, the vitality and well-being of the city is a genuine concern of every citizen in Hagerstown and Washington County which needs to be considered by every institution, particularly the hospital.

The fact that the proposed location at Robinwood would increase the drive time to the emergency room by 10 minutes or more is important. What are the implications to the heart-attack victim?

I can understand and appreciate the convenience to doctors who have their offices at Robinwood, but what about the convenience of the community?

If the city will activate a truck route around the downtown, it will reduce downtown traffic and have the further effect of reducing congestion downtown in the future.

But anyone who has traveled to Robinwood Medical Center over the years has seen a terrific increase in the traffic in the Dual Highway, Robinwood and Eastern Boulevard area, which will only get worse in the future as commercial development increases.

What's the hurry? Certainly there is time to get the input from all factions that have a stake in the hospital and make sure that a new hospital facility is designed and located to the advantage of the whole community.

Jack Garrott


No real choice

To the editor:

Many Americans consider voting not only a privilege but a patriotic duty. How often have we heard the familiar refrain that if you don't vote, you have no right to complain? That belief, while popular, is quite absurd. This misguided notion stems from the belief in democracy and the freedom of choice. However, in a political system that is awash with both corporate and special interest money, the idea of choice is not only an illusion; it is a mockery of the very idea of real democracy.

Special interest money assures virtually the same outcome year after year, whether you vote Democrat or Republican. By simply voting every few years and then retreating back into the dark corners of apathy, the people's voice is marginalized. We feel warm and fuzzy inside but we have done nothing meaningful and with effect.

Voting is little more than a cruel hoax perpetrated upon an ill-informed, but well-meaning public. All we have done is perpetuate the myth of democracy while actually undermining its very foundation - citizen participation.

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