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Community clinic is essential to the North Fork

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Dear Editor:

Not everyone who lives in Paonia and Hotchkiss wants or is able to drive to see a doctor in Delta. When the hospital took over the management of the North Fork Medical Clinics last year, I hoped that they would provide financial sustainability to keep this infrastructure in place. The recent news that the hospital will be pulling out of its deal with the clinics makes me sick. Jumping ship when the going gets non-profitable? This is not serving the whole county of Delta. What have we done to deserve to be treated like the poor relation of the county? These are tough times for those of us trying to stay in the North Fork Valley. We are losing businesses and paychecks. With each loss it becomes harder for the remaining business to hang on and prosper. The possible loss of a medical clinic is a big loss for a community.

Medical care is not a consumable that one can put off buying until they go somewhere else. I need a doctor when I am sick. I no longer have a car. How am I supposed to get medical care except go by ambulance to the hospital to have bronchitis or strep throat treated. Not medical emergencies, but I am sick and need someone able to evaluate and treat my condition. I can not plan when the fickle finger of fate will decide that it is my turn for misery. A doctor in a community is an essential service like plumbing. Sooner or later everybody will need to go. I have worked with enough medical professionals that I understand that more is expected from doctors today than any time in history. We need the hospital to continue its help and support for our medical clinic. We can not expect any one or two doctors to make a medical practice in a rural area work financially. I am happy with Dr. Meilner and the other staff at the clinics in the North Fork. They try very hard to meet the needs of a diverse population. I think we should be washing his car every day and making lunch for the staff daily because of their dedication to serve us. All of these people give much more than they receive. I hope the hospital will reconsider its decision to help all of us by helping our medical clinic.

Jane Poulos
Paonia

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