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Letter: Health care action

I’m a nurse at Baystate Franklin Medical Center. I attended the community forum at the Greenfield High School where about 100 people from all over Franklin County met to discuss what we need locally in the way of access to health care. It was encouraging to see people get together to think and plan for what their needs are and how to voice those needs so we ensure that services at our local hospital are meeting the range of challenges to health, physical and mental, that people face over the course of their lives. In the past few years, a number of medical fields, such as pediatrics and urology, have become almost nonexistent at Baystate Franklin and people shared stories about difficulties in getting needed care locally, and decided to form a follow-up group to learn more about what guarantees may have been given to Franklin County residents when our hospital originally became part of Baystate Health Systems and to advocate for Franklin County residents to have excellent full-range LOCAL health care.

A number of people talked about the hardship it is for many people when their health care needs can be met only by traveling to Springfield and the frustrations of trying to get care in settings where the mission seems to have more to do with profit than care. Concern was expressed that the business model of our health care system discourages preventive care and tends to cause people to end up sicker than they have to be. As a nurse, I take an interest in seeing people in my community have the help they need to stay as healthy as possible and as a citizen, it’s exhilarating to see democracy in action. I’m looking forward to long-range organizing to make sure we in Franklin County keep advocating for ourselves and our neighbors and doing what we can to keep good health care close to home — and by, for and about people. I encourage those interested who didn’t make this meeting to come to the next one — if there’s one thing that affects virtually everyone, it’s health care. We need to pay attention and speak up to get the comprehensive, close-to-home care we need.

ANN LEWIN, RN

Turners Falls

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