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Delegation's involvement on hospital issue welcome

July 15, 2004

Now that Washington County's General Assembly delegation has endorsed the local hospital's move to the Robinwood area, we have one thought.

It's about time.

The issue of the move and the City of Hagerstown's objections to it were first raised in 2002, yet the delegation has been silent - or nearly so - on the issue until now.

This issue concerns the future of health care in Washington County - how much it will cost individuals and local government and how the traffic a new hospital would generate will be handled.

The delegation's belated entry into the discussion is welcome, but we hope members' involvement is not limited to writing a letter of support for the hospital's move.

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Delegation members should also be prepared to sit down with members of the city council and work to make progress on the issues involved.

One that's sure to be a sticky one is the issue of annexation. The city government has asked the hospital to go through the county zoning process before it annexes.

Why? City officials say they don't want to disenfranchise the the residents of the Robinwood area who were promised back in 1991 that there would never be a critical-care hospital in their neighborhood, with helicopters flying overhead and ambulances speeding past, their sirens wailing.

The Herald-Mail supports the hospital's move, but we also recognize that for some people on both sides, the issue has gone beyond a civil disagreement and become something personal.

That's why we welcome the delegation's involvement. Del. John Donoghue, who represents the city in Annapolis and has become the delegation's expert on health care, would seem to have the expertise and the clout to be the perfect mediator.

No city request will pass through the General Assembly if Donoghue is opposed, while at the same time the hospital needs his backing on legislation that afects the health-care industry.

In a March statement explaining why he didn't feel he should mediate disputes between the city and Washington County government, Donoghue said it wasn't his job to be "heavy handed and authoritarian."

We beg to differ. A heavy hand - a guiding hand, really - is needed now, and Donoghue and his fellow delegation members should provide one.




Blood donors urgently needed



It's ironic. After the trerrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Americans flooded the nation's blood banks, offering to donate whatever was needed to help the vicitims of that terrible event.

Three years later, the nation's blood supply has reached a record low, with some regions having less than a day's supply on hand. We urge those who can donate to do so.

The blood supply normally falls during the summer because that's when people take vacations. But the current situation is far worse than normal, with Shaun A. Adamec, a communication official with the Red Cross, describing it as one of the most severe shortages of all time.

What can you do? If you're at least 17, weigh more than 105 pounds and are generally in good health, you can donate blood every 56 days.

Blood drives are listed frequently in The Herald-Mail, buty times and locations can also be obtained by calling 1-800-448-3543, or visit the Red Cross Web site at redcrosslife.org.

The Web site notes that beginning in January, everyone who donates blood will be required to provide their Red Cross Donor Card or some other form of positive identification before the donation can begin.

The site also notes that one in every 10 hospital patients requires a blood transfusion, and that one unit of donated blood may help save the lives of several different people.

The Red Cross also notes that if for some reason you cannot donate, you can still help by becoming a volunteer at various blood drive sites.

Jobs include greeters, escorts for donors and snack providers. For information on how to volunteer, call 1-800-542-5663, ext. 2781.

If you can donate, however, please consider going to one of the sites in this region. It doesn't take long, the workers are professional and courteous and you even get a treat when you're done.

Better than that, you'll get the satisfaction of knowing that your small sacrifice made it possible for someone else to remain in good health.

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