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Letters to the editor

December 19, 2004

Hospital not aboveboard in site search


To the editor:

After researching the issue of the proposed site for the new Washington County Hospital in considerable detail, I've concluded that this entire process looks more like economic development and less about affordable health care.

Traffic and public safety will be compromised and millions of dollars will be needed to make the Robinwood site marginally workable. Some costs will be paid for by the hospital, but most will be paid for by county taxpayers and new, very large developments, which only strain our infrastructure to the breaking point.

Those who live in the Colonial Park east development have already noticed a steady increase in traffic, including trucks, cars and emergency vehicles, using Cornell Avenue as a bypass (short-cut) to Medical Campus Drive. This avoids several traffic lights and lots of traffic congestion, but impacts our community. This problem will only get worse if the hospital is built at Robinwood. We will need to deal with excessive noise, traffic, safety concerns, EMS and helicopters, all incompatible with a residential neighborhood.

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The School Board has planned for several years to build a new middle and high school on land they already own next to the proposed hospital site. Helicopters on final approach, ambulances with sirens, combined with a hazardous waste incinerator next to three schools seems incompatible with the safety and the learning process of our children.

It is simply outrageous, arrogant and shows poor judgment on the part of the hospital's management, as well as the hospital board of directors, to not consider these points of concern. Perhaps they have considered them and just don't give a darn.

Many of us believe that the new facility should be able to attract additional staff to assist the current understaffed, overworked direct-care providers. The reality is that the new facility plans call for a 5 percent reduction in current direct-care providers with about the same number of beds.

A cynic might say that the reason for private rooms with visitor beds might be so family members can provide personal care to their loved ones that an overworked staff is unable to provide in a timely manner.

I've been told that the Robinwood site was selected because that is where the doctors are located. Since most of the doctors are in the city and in neighborhoods around the county, a Robinwood location would mean that most doctors would be further from the hospital. So, just how important is it for the doctors to be next to the hospital?

However, there may be a hidden agenda here. The Medical Center is controlled by the profit-making part Washington County Health System (WCHS). With the hospital at Robinwood, what better way for WCHS to "encourage" those doctors not currently at Robinwood to move into medical center facilities.

This migration of doctors' offices will further limit patient access to doctors who have moved away from their current locations to be at Robinwood. What better way for WCHS to make more profits than by expanding the medical center to meet this new demand for space. However, urban sprawl will result with vacated doctors' offices.

If and when the hospital requests a zoning exemption for the Robinwood site, those of us who will be directly impacted will have the opportunity to make our feelings known.

Hospital management would be wise to consider alternative sites or updating the current facility if they expect to have a new facility within the foreseeable future.

Ronald L. Horn
Hagerstown




'Christian left' isn't selective about life


To the editor:

I am writing this letter to the Bush faithful who think they are the only ones who can rightfully call themselves Christian or moral. Leonard Pitts' article from Nov. 11 about the Christian left-wingers was excellent. He pointed out very brilliantly that there is such thing as the left-leaning Christian. Yes, there are actually people who voted for Kerry who read and live the Bible, attend church and are very moral, God-fearing citizens.

The definition of the Christian left-winger, in my view, is this: A follower of Jesus Christ who is against the same immoral acts the Christian right call immoral (gay marriage/abortion), but also believes the lies and misguidance of Bush is just as much a threat to the American people as the immoralities themselves, and that terrorism is a more immediate danger than all other issues.

Outside of just stating his beliefs, anyone who I have talked to has yet to tell me what Bush has done or said that elevates him (in people's minds) as this great Christian spokesman. Let me remind the Bible believer that the Bible tells us that "the devil believes (in God) too, and shudders." So, we see that simply believing is not sufficient. After all, morality is what guided most Bush supporters to vote for him according to exit polls, as if voting for Kerry was voting against morality.

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