68818

We engaged in 90 minutes of fast paced, shared thoughts ,in determining what our local goals should be.  How citizens, such as ourselves might assist the already existing forces locally who have hopes of retaining a reasonably viable hospital for Kent County.  David Foster along with Zane & Nancy Carter led the discussion.  Everyone had opinions and suggestions.

The largest overriding issue seems to be the secrecy that seems to surround the process for making the decision to close or to retain some hospital services in Chestertown.  Why should the terms of an agreement made years ago be kept from the current stakeholders of Kent County?  What is of such importance that issues which surround the initial purchase of the hospital and the current obligations of the owners under this old agreement be of such nature that under the freedom of information act, or related law, that the people, the citizens of this county, be denied access to knowledge of long existing agreements and paperwork that so strongly may now impact their lives and their healthcare?  Transparency and honesty at this time, not after a virtually irrevocable decision has been made, may be crucial to the entire process.  What is so secret about this decision or this old agreement that is just too much for citizens to know or to try to understand?

Here are the results of our shared thoughts:

Community Breakfast Group SWOT Analysis  of UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown

 

Strengths

Quality of life (i.e. “The Land of Pleasant Living”)

Current medical staff

State-of-the-art emergency room

Educated and involved community

Volunteerism

 

Weaknesses

Small rural area, low population

Lack of local leadership and a caring hospital administrator

No urgent care facility

Lack of community plan and organization

Hard to attract new doctors (public school system and lack of job opportunities for spouses)

Lack of transparency from current local organizers (O’Connor and Benjamin)

 

Opportunities

Education, i.e. teaching hospital

Urgent care center/combine urgent care and emergency room

Rental to physicians

Geriatric/gerontology services

Soon to retire and newly graduated doctors

More volunteerism for adults and youths

Tele-medicine

Birthing center

Partnerships with Washington College and Chesapeake College

 

Threats

Secrecy       The atmosphere of secrecy serves no good purpose and must be eliminated to restore good faith in the outcome.

Affordable Care Act

Uncertainty

UM Shore Regional Health System actively redirecting services to Easton

Lack of local control

Losing business to Kent Island and Middletown

Negative gossip

Lack of support from local doctors

 

footnote:

If you search on Facebook for “Save Our Hospital in Chestertown” you can become more informed and potentially connected to local people who want to keep the hospital open and running.

 

Jamie W

We had a small, but very informative and enlightening meeting with Jamie Williams, Executive Director of Kent County Economic Development.  In addition, the nearly new Chestertown head of economic development attended and participated  Another new face to the group who had spent 25 years on the other side of the Chesapeake, in Harford County just above Washington, DC in this field also was a major contributor to what was being discussed.  All of these experts understand that a clear vision of what local residents want as their version of local economic development ought to look like is of primary importance.  I don’t think it is a bad guess that people living here enjoy the lifestyle this relative rural and quiet area offers.  They’d like that to continue and to thrive.  We need good healthcare, not less.  We need good public services, decent schools, an engaged populace, tourism and job training and jobs, but no huge stores, large residential developments or heavy traffic creating industries.  We do support good growth in the many diverse businesses that are already here in Kent county.  A main goal should be to help them expand and prosper.  It is way easier and far more cost effective to keep a business in place than it is to get a new one to move in.

There is a lot to consider and talk is way easier than actually making things happen.  Jamie Williams is deeply involved and committed to making a difference and see plans go from words to actions.  We were asked what we’d like to think about this area in 50 years.  Most of us just wish we’d still be here, but everyone knows change is inevitable.  It is our duty to help things go in a good direction while we are here.  Being engaged with the forces of change is something we all benefit from.

 

cbg1-4-16

Our frequent attendee, Warren Beaven, 2nd from right, associated with the Good Neighbor Fund, brought friends and associates with him who are all doing related services for folks who have housing issues in Kent County and Chestertown.  Accompanying Warren were  Carol Droge of the Samaritan Group, Pat MacDonald of the Salvation Army, and Robin Hawthorne of Kent Count Social Services.  Each spent several minutes explaining the roles which each agency plays in getting to know those who request their services.  We found out how they operate both separately, and in cooperation with one another, in order to make the most of their always limited funding.  There is no question that the work they accomplish makes life a little better for those who need their help as well as giving the area a better appearance to outsiders and residents, while increasing public safety for all.

The statistics show homelessness and related issues are on the rise.  This comes as no surprise.  We asked about the vetting of those who get help versus those who ask for help when they really don’t require it.  I think CBG got straight answers which bridged the gap from compassion to legitimate proof of need.  Surely, these agencies and charities are not creating a desire for the population to needlessly call on them for undeserved assistance, yet they are ready to respond to legitimate needs.  We should all be glad that the local area has people in it who are willing to help those who need a place to stay, a decent meal and a bit of counseling.  It is best to be independent and financially well off, but it is good that others care about those who just have not been able to meet those goals on their own.

 

 

20160107_073834

Many of us are aware of mentally challenged children going through the public school system in the mainstreaming program. What happens to those children and young adults with still more problematic learning and communication disorders? Places such as the Benedictine School have the high staff to student ratio and the extraordinary level of training required to spend years in seeking to improve the future lifetimes of such individuals. With huge compassion among the employees and staff, the progress of students over several years often leads them to being fully functional in society within their ability. Every individual, challenged or not, has differing abilities and talents, but not attempting to bring these abilities to the fore is unforgivable. These are lessons from those years in the past where warehoused patients spent their entire lives never having the opportunity for self sufficiency and freedom which all the rest of us expect as a right in our lives.

The cost per participant in these programs is high, and for the most part, carried by us, the taxpayers. The argument that not providing this education and counseling would cost society a great deal of money too has been made. It was good to hear points of view on the subject of “value” to society, both pro and con. We are not left with much choice, but we do have a far better appreciation of the difficult task the Benedictine School has taken on since 1959. Society is better when people, all people, are deservedly given the right to have self respect and to be treated with compassion for any human shortcoming.

 
` `