Letters to the editor of the Spotlight
I'm done! - having spent the last six weeks trying to alert the community about the negative side of building a new hospital on Millard Road and proposing an alternative to the hospital. I believe it is too expensive to build and sustain a 12-bed hospital without critical access. I wanted to offer an alternative using the old hospital, which is now called Columbia Commons. I walked that specific area with Jim Turner, the manager of Columbia Commons. Mr. Turner and I agreed there would be plenty of space to facilitate a 24/7 emergency department with four beds. These beds would be considered outpatient, as the patients would be in and out within 23 hours.
A 12-bed dialysis unit is in the process of development now at Columbia Commons. Still, there is room for a 24/7 emergency department. How long will that area be available? This space will fill up. The director of Urgent Care told me a 24/7 unit could be up and running in two months. The hospital board plans to spend $26 million just to build the new hospital. The equipment and the salaries are not included. The proposed opening of the new hospital is January 2010.
A town meeting was planned and scheduled for Feb. 12, I went to the hospital board meeting on Jan. 10 and they were informed of this meeting. The board assured me during that January meeting that some of them would be in attendance at the town meeting. The hospital board then decided to have two meeting on Feb. 9 for the public - one in Scappoose and one in St. Helens. This decision was not made at a public meeting. At the public meetings on Feb. 9 in St. Helens I was told by the board members that they would not attend the town meeting. Their attorney would be there answer the community's questions.
To sum it up, I spent six weeks of my life and $400 of my savings to try to get the community involved. I wanted to get the community aware of where their tax dollars are going. Interesting enough, I found that many of the citizens I talked to did not read the paper. Nor were they interested. Thirteen-hundred flyers were passed out and about 30 people showed up at the town meeting. The hospital board's paid attorney tried to answer questions, he did not have all the answers. The one thing he did say more than once was 'come to the hospital board meeting with your questions.'
I have learned by this adventure into politics I am not a politician. I do not have the money to continue. I live on a retirement pension and Social Security, which I am very grateful for. I am not in the position as is the hospital board in hiring someone to speak for them. They used my tax dollars to do so. That burns! I thank the media, the Spotlight, the Chronicle and KOHI for addressing a citizen's view.
My last effort will be to get the tape of the town meeting to the hospital board and to the media. The town meeting was taped and is on the Internet at www.sthelensupdate.com. Check 'lower gorgeous news.' I hope others will step up and take my place.
Many people in this country agree that our public schools are going downhill. Students from other countries far outpace our own in the fields of mathematics and science, and even the knowledge of the native language. How can we let this happen to our future? We must take steps to ensure that our children get the well-rounded education they need. If children are our future, don't we want them to lead as best they can?
The most appalling lack in our current system of education is a thorough grounding in music; which is a great basis to build everything else on. For people throughout the ages, music was a crucial part of culture, religion, education, history, not to mention everyday life. They taught their children about life and their world using song and story. It was absolutely inseparable from many cultures' form of education.
Having been fortunate enough to have a family life filled with music I can understand the value of starting young. At the age of 3 one doesn't necessarily know that singing in front of people should be nerve wracking or scary. This helps to create a confidence that will carry across into other areas of one's life. Confidence is key in academia; we must try things that have never been done before. To essay is really to try, to attempt. Without confidence how can that happen?
It is our job to stand up for the rights of our children and our future. Learning about music should not be a privilege, but a valued aspect of the educational environment. We must all strive to leave a strong legacy, and right the wrong being done to our children by demoting them to mediocrity.