To the editor of THE EAGLE:
Two letters, two different perceptions. The Sunday, July 6 Eagle editorial page couldn’t have encapsulated the plight of those affected by the North Adams Regional Hospital closing better.
The Margot S. Moomaw letter "Restored NARH is not reasonable" laid out what is essentially the "market forces" argument for allowing NARH to die a natural death. It is the kind of thinking favored by conservatives with no social conscience. Her "You should have done what Fairview Hospital in Great Barrington did" argument was disingenuous. It covers up a "Let the most politically connected survive" point of view. And why is it a lady from Williamstown showers lavish praise on the management of Fairview for its farsightedness, and yet has no empathy for her neighbors in North County? Could it be that this "former vice president of marketing and planning for BMC/Berkshire Health Systems" is really an outsider with no connection, no sympathy, and no concern for the people who poured their hearts out at the Stroudwater Associates meeting?
This brings me to Joyce Wrend’s letter, truly a counter-point to the Moomaw propaganda "Return full-service NARH." She nailed the essential point when she wrote, "I am not sure why a study needs to be done as to the services NARH should provide. Open the hospital, fully staffed. Tax records show that it made money the last year it was open. It was the $9 million debt that was dragging it down." A whole community should not be punished for poor corporate decisions. At the very least, it should be given a second chance. A hospital, after all, is a public trust, not some gambling chip to back up a bad bet. Wall Street was bailed out, but "underwater" mortgage holders were not; we do not want to make the same mistake here.
Let me congratulate Mayor Dick Alcombright and our other representatives who attended last the Stroudwater Associates meeting. They are swimming upstream and gradually, getting some things done. It’s not easy when people are telling you just to cave in. As one speaker at that meeting noted, our situation with NARH is a lot like the attempted closing of St. Stan’s Church of Adams. It takes courage and (I don’t think I exaggerate here) a certain nobility to persist. And all those ordinary citizens that spoke at the meeting? They’re pretty darn likable and noble, too, and I’m proud of them.