Letter to the editor

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This Thursday, hospitals and others across the country will celebrate National Rural Health Day. It’s a great time to reflect on how lucky we are to have 50 rural hospitals in Alabama serving the needs of our local communities. If we were to offer a collective annual report, it would look something like this.

Last year, our rural hospitals employed 15,000 people, provided emergency care to more than 620,000 individuals, inpatient care to 110,000 and delivered approximately 10,000 babies. We created two jobs for every one we funded, provided thousands of dollars in additional economic impact and were the reasons many communities were able to attract new business. We served as the backbone of health care in our communities, supporting doctors’ offices, dialysis clinics, pharmacies and other necessary health care services. We saved lives, extended lives and simply made thousands of lives better.

However, our success wouldn’t have been possible without you, our local communities. So as we celebrate Rural Health Day, those of us who work in rural hospitals want our communities to know how much we appreciate all of you. Your support and patronage through the years has been critical in preserving good care throughout rural Alabama.

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You’ve trusted us to deliver your precious children and grandchildren and then care for them when they broke a bone, were bitten by a stray animal, or injured playing sports. You’ve allowed us the privilege of treating your aging parents, giving them comfort and a better quality of life. You’ve stood with us and watched as our team of doctors, nurses and other clinicians saved lives. You’ve also cried on our shoulders when the only hope we could give was for a peaceful and dignified passing of your loved one.

You are our neighbors and our friends, and we’ve been through a lot together. You’ve come to our grand openings, and we’ve gone to your weddings.You’ve watched as our hospitals have grown from small infirmaries in the 1950s to modern facilities offering the latest technology and treatments. You’ve seen the health care benefits of having good local care, but you have also probably enjoyed the economic benefits. In fact, many of you probably work at the hospital or have a family member who does.

Health care is changing; there are new treatment options, new medicines and new ways to better coordinate and provide your care. However, no matter what changes, one thing remains constant … our commitment to you and your family and our gratitude for your trust. So, when we count our blessings this week, we’re counting all of you who have entrusted us with your most precious possession, your lives.

Chris B. Griffin, CEO of D.W. McMillan Memorial Hospital, Brewton; and chairman of the Alabama Hospital Association’s Rural Constituency Section