To the editor:
Like most of you, I had always thought of the word “confusion” as a single word.
However, as I survey some of the recent acts of our citizenry, acts both welcomed and encouraged by the new entity, “Lahey Health” now taking over from Northeast Health Systems, I have my doubts about the single word theory.
First let’s talk about the fusion in the public mind of three groups claiming to be the one that will save Addison Gilbert, our community hospital. There is one and one only that has been effectively fighting our possible loss. That group has survived 16 years of being vilified by the business people at Northeast and their recent partners at Lahey.
That group is the one that has collected 85,00 signatures in three weeks in favor of saving our hospital. That group is the one that mustered people ready to go from Gloucester and Rockport on a freezing January night to give three hours of testimony to the Department of Public Health on the unique composition of Cape Ann people and our unique location (an island connected to the mainland by two problematic bridges).
It is that group which, under the leadership of RN Peggy O’Malley, obtained at a hearing in Boston in March a guarantee that Addison Gilbert Hospital would be open for three years, with any major change having to be approved by the Department of Public Health. It is that group that obtained a unanimous request from the Rockport Board of Selectmen to Northeast/Lahey that it (Partners for Addison Gilbert) be included in the future of sustaining AGH.
That group is indeed Partners for Addison Gilbert Hospital. We hope to be partners who protect and preserve.
Mr. Robert Crandall, a recently retired executive of American Airlines, newly moved to Eastern Point and on good terms with the executives at Addison Gilbert has an idea that, if everybody on Cape Ann contributes $20 a year it will add up to a million a year and that, with that money, the people can buy a surgeon and an anesthesiologist to keep AGH open. Sadly, strategies of this kind are unrealistic. When Northeast took over Addison Gilbert it took at least $57 million and did not bring those doctors here. Northeast officials used the cash and other assets for a huge renovation of Beverly Hospital.
Now we have a third group purporting to be a citizens’ group; a so-called advisory group to the new entity, Lahey Health. In a deal brokered by state Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, to be a member of this so-called independent group, you must be approved by Lahey and cherry picked to be a part of its voice.
This fusion, this mishmash of groups has the average citizen properly mystified as to whom to trust. As a result, many people just throw up their hands and give up.
The Department of Public Health wants a survey of community needs with some focus on Addison Gilbert .Now a complex web of surveys is being advertised by Northeast/Lahey. The description of the various surveys is so complex that, again, the average, busy citizen is going to be tempted to throw up his/her hands in despair and ay, “I give up. It is all too complicated for me.”
So finally, we come to see that con-fusion may really be two words. When powerful forces want us to give up, they can create such a labrynthine tangle that we feel helpless to fight for ourselves. By fusion of many separate statements they put over what might be called “the big con.”
Don’t give up. To learn more about how we can keep our hospital and still help Lahey/Northeast meet a respectable bottom line, come to a meeting this coming week.
It’s sponsored by Partners for AGH. It’s this Thursday, in the Friend Room at the Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester. It begins at 6:30 and runs about an hour and a half. Hear multi award winning Boston University Professor of Health Policy and Management Alan Sager. His talk will be “Save Addison Gilbert-the Right Hospital in the Right Place”.
Come, listen, ask — and don’t be con-fused.