Every year in March, I am blessed by a visit from my parents. My mother and father are, what is referred to as, “snow birds” and have left their Daytona Beach winter rental and begun the journey home to Maine. These few days spent in Evans are busy with grandchildren, Southern meals and preparing to drive the long distance north.
Each time that they visit, we travel the county to see how it has changed and grown. They are always impressed by our progress – new neighborhoods, schools, shopping centers, churches, banks and grocers. I have always been very proud of this community and all that it has to offer, that is, until Easter night, 2013.
On this evening, my 73-year-old father became incapacitated with severe abdominal pain and we quickly called 911. I sat in the passenger seat of a Gold Cross ambulance at the intersection of Washington Road and William Few Parkway with an important question to answer: “What Hospital would you like us to go to ma’am?” It was, at this moment, that I became keenly aware that there is not an emergency room within 20 minutes of my home. Less than 10 minutes would be the difference between the closest facility, Doctor’s Hospital, and University Hospital located in the downtown medical district of Richmond County.
My father was being carefully monitored by an amazing Gold Cross ambulance team and the fact that he was alert and medically stable afforded us the opportunity to choose a hospital. Certain that his condition was serious and an in-patient hospitalization would be necessary, I made the decision to drive to University Hospital. Many of the physicians, in Evans, that routinely care for other family members, are associated with University Hospital and my confidence in these doctors, made my choice simple.
A hospital stay, whether short or long, emergency or scheduled, can be difficult for any family. Some people throughout this recent hospital debate have asked “Why do we need a hospital in Columbia County?” and to them, I would ask “Why would we NOT need one?”
Columbia County is a family-focused community and every hospitalization does lead to bigger questions. Who will spend the night with your sick child, spouse, friend, or parent, if needed? How will you continue to care for your home and others while visiting a sick family member or newborn babies? Only those people that have experienced this dilemma could truly understand what being closer to home can mean in a time of healthcare emergencies or prolonged hospitalization. A hospital in Columbia County can make an enormous difference by providing an opportunity for treatment and recovery in the heart of our community.
Three hospitals have shown an interest in building and operating Columbia County’s first hospital: Doctors Hospital, GR Health and University Hospital. This decision needs to be made with the support of the residents of this county. Every voice and every letter can make a difference. Please, contact the Georgia Department of Community Health and/or your members of the Georgia General Assembly to make certain that the needs of our community members are considered when making their decisions.