To the editor:
There is an email that has been circulating for the last couple of years that says "In order to get something you never had, you have to do something you have never done before."
And so it is with the Addison Gilbert Hospital Citizens Fund (AGH Citizens Fund). The only difference in the above statement is that we had it, but lost it. What we have lost is the ability to make our donations work on our behalf.
The AGH Citizens fund, a 501(3)(c) charitable organization, was established to fill a basic need for the citizens of the Cape Ann communities of Gloucester, Essex, Rockport, Manchester by the Sea and to extend valuable services to the surrounding North Shore communities as well.
The concept of the fund is to provide money to AGH to ensure that eight essential services as defined in the definition of Emergency Services code 105 CMR 130.020 are met, in particular the presence of surgery, on site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
While philanthropy is not a new concept, the AGH Citizens Fund is because (and I think President Truman said it best) "The Buck Stops Here." In other words, all monies raised will be used at Addison Gilbert Hospital alone for the purpose of ensuring the health and safety of the more than 40,000 citizens it serves. The uniqueness of this fund is that you, the donor, have a say in where your money goes.
We do not oppose the Lahey-Northeast merger or partnership, but insist that the eight essential services needed to maintain our hospital as a full service hospital must be preserved.
This is not a frivolous or unrealistic request, but rather a necessity. Our lives depend on it and I believe it's doable. We have a state-of-the-art operating room at Addison Gilbert and it should be filled with surgeons.
There are a few things that I feel compelled to say here.
First, our local businessmen and woman have done good things for this community, one being the Gorton's Center at Addison Gilbert. What a wonderful addition to our hospital that is, and the Cancer Care Center is such a relief of burden to those who fight that horrible disease. We are fortunate to have it. May I point out that these "business people" are also our friends and neighbors, and, for the most partm they aer people we have known all our lives and have done business with in the past.
I believe that some of those people who served on the committees when the merger with Northeast Health Systems took place made their decisions and signed the agreement based on what they were being told at the time. One who was involved during talks told me years ago "Lee, that's not what they (Northeast) said would happen."
Even the brightest among us are capable of making that kind of mistake.
Secondly, both Partners for AGH and the AGH Task Force have worked diligently to inform the public of important events surrounding our hospital and have kept the community abreast of legal ramifications resulting from changes that took place over the years. They too, are our friends and neighbors, business people and are representatives of our communities.
All that being said, let me tell you what I think has to be done next:
All groups need to come together and work as one. Let us gather together our errors and egos, and all that is harmful to the survival of our hospital, wrap them in a tarp and burry it at sea.
Let us work together to ensure that the hospital will remain a full service hospital saving lives, providing services on site as well as preserving jobs on Cape Ann. It was, after all, the wish of Addison Gilbert himself when he established his fund to provide to our citizens a hospital where medical or surgical treatment could be provided.
Once we are on sure footing, and all that is needed is in place, philanthropy of olden years may be re-established. But for now we must do (as Addison Gilbert had done) something that has never been done before and we should do it together.
All hands on deck!
AGH Citizens Fund