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Opinion

December 12, 2012

Lahey panelists need to fight for residents' needs

To the editor:

This is an open letter to the members of the new Cape Ann Community Panel of Addison Gilbert Hospital:

We understand that you have been selected by Lahey Health to represent the people of Cape Ann in planning the future of AGH and that your first meeting will take place Friday.

Lahey is holding these meetings because it was ordered by the state Public Health Council to complete a Cape Ann community health needs assessment as a condition of the council’s approval of the merger of Northeast and Lahey. This order resulted from the work of many of us who have fought for our hospital, most of whom are being excluded by Lahey from this panel.

Although you are charged with representing all of us, and our lives depend upon the decisions you make, Lahey has decided that the meetings will be secret and confidential.

Expect Lahey executives to give polished presentations to lead you to conclusions that you probably would not reach if you had all the information you need. Here are a few really important considerations to keep in mind.

The community’s need for AGH

Over the past 16 years, a firm consensus has been reached among many on Cape Ann, including elected officials of Rockport and Gloucester, that, because of our very tenuous connection to the mainland, Addison Gilbert Hospital must always have a fully licensed emergency department.

Take note of this extremely important ruling of the state Department of Public Health :

“The following services are the minimum services that must be available in a hospital building as a precondition for the authorized provision of emergency services at that site:

Inpatient medical and, or surgical beds.

Critical care beds.

24-hour availability of qualified physicians and other professional staff.

Lab service.

Radiology services.

Surgical services, including adequate operating room facilities, which are immediately available for life-threatening situations.

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