Loose Ends: Taking nothing for granted

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MEEKER — A recent trip to the emergency room and a ride in the ambulance made me grateful for the hospital and the wonderful care provided by the Pioneers hospital staff. It also made me realize how easy it is to take local health care services for granted.
When someone chooses to move to a community, they often try to get a real feel for the place beforehand by subscribing to the local paper, making a few trips to check it out, and making a list of pros and cons of all aspects of community living, such as the quality of the schools and the services offered to local residents. It is often only until a crisis arises many of the newcomers who suddenly find themselves living here become aware of the need for the hospital and ambulance services offered locally.
Before Pioneers hospital was built, the tales many local families tell of of losing loved ones who became critically ill or injured and had to endure the long drive to Glenwood Springs for hospital care were common. It was the loss of his mother in this type of situation that spurred town benefactor Freeman Fairfield to ensure that a hospital be built in Meeker. People don’t plan on getting sick or injured, but once the emergency arises, the need for good, immediate, health care becomes important. It was reassuring to find familiar faces taking care of me in both the emergency room and ambulance and their professionalism was impressive.
In all of the talk about the changes brought to a community by increased oil and gas development, the stresses and strains put on the emergency health care system, that has served the community well for so many years, can be enormous. Recently articles about the boom and the bust cycle of this region have cited a group of people that experts have dubbed the “amenity culture.” Apparently after the last bust, many of our neighboring communities worked hard to attract second home buyers, retirees, and tourists to make up for the hole created by Exxon’s pulling up stakes on “Black Sunday.”
Amenity, schmenity — every community needs high quality health care. We have to be vigilant monitors to ensure that no matter the stress and strain put on such services, it will never be considered simply an amenity, or something that we tout as an extra benefit for staying here. It needs to remain a community service that we do not take for granted.