When we are young

Published 8:32 am Saturday, August 19, 2017

Editorial by Anne Payne

When we are young, we think we are invincible. As we age through the decades, though, we realize that we are not quite the same as we once were. In the past few years, I have eased into my sixties, while my husband has flowed into his, and today we celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary, which is great in today’s times. We have now been married as long as my parents before my dad died in 1987, after marrying my mom in 1951. Okay, so what?

Several couples we know are soon thinking about relocating due to lack of medical care in Orange County. When we moved here 18 years ago from Florida, there was a hospital, an ER, and approximately 40 doctors, including numerous specialists. The hospital is now a nearly vacant building, no ER exists, and the doctors have been reduced to a mere 14. Orange, we have a problem!

Must the population of Orange County be caught in a war of politics, sacrificing the health and lives of our citizens? Yes, the story circulates that Orange County once owned the hospital but sold it, not thinking about the consequences of an aging population and its medical care and facilities. I truly do not understand how such a mishap could occur.   As a result, the hospital appears to have fallen into the hands of a respected, private, religious corporation which seems not to regard the citizens of Orange County. Thank goodness for the Stark Foundation since they generously gave to the hospital for years, also assisting just a few years ago with helping build a new ER.

It is understood that the older part of the hospital is full of asbestos and bringing the entire hospital up to required codes likely would not be a good investment. Hence, if the hospital has to be taken down, then down it must go. However, personally, I do not think the Stark Foundation would have donated such a large sum of money to remodel the ER without researching all aspects of the situation. They hire specialized individuals who are trained in the appropriate research methods of these kinds.   Something just does not seem correct to me in how the Baptist Hospital Foundation handled the entire closure of the hospital.

The problem initiated when women were told they could no longer deliver a baby in Orange.   Services slowly but surely evaporated from the hospital. In a blink of the eye, the Orange Hermann Baptist Hospital was closed. Next, without much warning, the doors of the ER were shut. Before we knew it, the gift shop (there since 1957) was shuttered, and the Red Cross workers were shuffled. Now, there is a skeleton crew left in the lab and imagery, along with a newly relocated ever-faithful gift shop.

Yes, many small town hospitals across the nation are experiencing this same situation, but many are not!!! Mismanagement seems to be the visible problem, and now our older population is being forced to move away to another area so their health needs can be accommodated. I think I would not be amiss to say, “Shame on you, Baptist Hospital Corporation, for not trying to solve this horrible problem in a civilized and humane situation.” Now, Orange will continue to lose part of its population, the chemical plants will be without a hospital closer than 25 miles away, and without bus transportation, many of our senior citizens will not be able to travel as far as even Port Arthur.

Some seem to be worried about the raising of taxes to support a hospital. Let me assure you, if the person needing health care is your spouse, your parent, your sibling, your child, your grandchild, or you, you will kick yourself for not having the courage to bite the bullet and accept the tax raise. Nobody LIKES taxes, but everyone wants to reap the benefits of assured health care with a hospital, an ER, and a crew of M.D. specialists.