Rallying to keep Carney strong

In the current national contest for president, a major political issue is the maintenance of good quality, affordable health care. Whether Republican or Democratic, all the candidates have made it clear they each view the issue as a top priority, and if we would only support (here, fill in the candidate,) something will be done about it, right away.

Fact is, most citizens understand that the provision of adequate health care is of paramount importance, and that in this wonderful nation of great wealth and substantial resources, their ability to access and afford the medical care they need to stay healthy is a critical issue.

In our community, the neighborhoods have been well served by an expansive network of community health centers, and from Mattapan Square to Uphams Corner, from Neponset to Codman Square, from Bowdoin Street to Fields Corner, the group of health care facilities provides a safety net for primary care for all of our residents.

Imagine, if you will, that along came a health care provider and offered to set down in our community a teaching hospital, a place close to home with emergency care, 200 in-patient beds, a safe place for persons needing psychiatric care, a 24 hour haven to help ensure good health and longevity for all our neighbors. Imagine how well-served we would feel. We would be the envy of under-served urban neighborhoods across this city, this state, even this country! The network of primary health providers, community health centers as well as private physicians could be confident that their patients in need of extensive care could find it, just down the street and close to home.

But wait; we have that already! It's the Carney Hospital, that invaluable teaching hospital on Dot Ave. that, just a generation ago, actually played the major role in establishing those same community health centers. And over the half century the Carney has provided sensitive, healing care to many thousands of families who have found their lives improved- even saved- by physicians, nursing staff and other health care providers employed and supported by the Carney.

But our local hospital is caught up in a struggle caused by the chaotic costs of health care. The Carney's parent company, Caritas Christi Health Care, reportedly has tried to sell our hospital and the entire system, but has found no buyers. Right now, consultants for both Caritas and the state's attorney general are each studying the hospital, and are expected to make recommendations soon that will affect the Carney's future.

Today, we publish a letter signed jointly by several health care providers, saying they "support the continued operation of Carney Hospital as an acute care hospitalÂ… State and local officials, working with the community, need to find a solution before a needed resource is lost," they write.

These folks have it right: Carney Hospital is a neighborhood treasure, and our community's future health, both physical and economic, is inextricably tied to the future viability of our community hospital.

There is an age-old aphorism, "Some people never appreciate what they have, until they have lost it."

What we have in the Carney Hospital is an extraordinary community resource; it's up to us to recognize and appreciate that fact, and make sure we don't ever lose it.