Oct. 8, 2008: Foremost goal is care for patients

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To The Editor:
On September 24th, I received a petition in my office signed by 117 people protesting the closure of our Roxbury Family Health Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I feel that it is important to respond to those who signed the petition, as well as to others in the Roxbury community.
The Roxbury clinic has long been a part of the Margaretville Hospital family and we have been struggling to continue this service to the Roxbury/Grand Gorge community.  At this juncture, however, the health clinic does not serve enough patients to justify keeping it open on a full-time basis.  We are hoping that by reducing the number of days the clinic is open, we can serve the same number of patients at substantially less cost, while freeing the Roxbury doctor and staff to see patients in Margaretville on the other days. We will continue to evaluate the situation to reach any conclusions about the reduced number of hours, but at this point the three-day week has not resulted in a noticeable reduction in service to patients.
Given the financial realities the hospital must face, including shrinking support from the government and grants, if there are not enough patients seen there to make it cost effective, the possibility of closing the Roxbury clinic altogether does exist.  If that were the case, we are prepared to see all of the Roxbury patients at our Margaretville facility, which is only 15 minutes from Roxbury.  We hope that this will not be the case, but our primary goal at all times must be to make the hospital financially viable.  It will serve no one if the hospital has to close its doors because we refused to adjust to changing financial situations.
Over the last few years, the hospital has made great strides in providing ever-improving care to our patients, in large part due to the dedication and sacrifices made by our staff, who have worked hard to increase efficiencies even though the hospital could not give them the financial compensation they deserve.  In order for the hospital to continue serving our patients, wherever located, sacrifices may be required of everyone.  We hope you will encourage your neighbors and friends to visit our clinic and help us continue our tradition of serving the Roxbury community.  We also hope you will understand that assuring the hospital’s continued existence must be the foremost goal for all of us.

Edmond Morache,
Chief Executive Officer
Margaretville Hospital