When the Hillsboro City Council, at its May 1 meeting, authorized the mayor to sign a proclamation making this week “Hospital Week” and “Nurses Week” and “Nursing Home Week,” the gesture seemed weak. What good does it really do to sign such proclamations? Does anything change? Maybe it serves a good purpose if it causes us to think, even briefly, about the importance of maintaining a functioning hospital, with well-trained nurses and an effective nursing home in our community into our future.

This is an old issue in Hillsboro, as it is in many other rural communities where medical resources are in financial peril because of cuts in Medicare reimbursements. Even though we may be weary of the war, we can’t ignore the call to arms. This community must keep its hospital open and functioning effectively. It’s critical not only for our immediate well being, but also to keep alive the possibility for community growth in the future.

About a year or so ago, close cooperation between Hillsboro Community Medical Center here and St. Luke Hospital in Marion was the hot issue. We supported the notion then and still do. While cooperation between the two institutions continues in a few significant ways, the heartbeat for radical relationships, even merger, in the near future has apparently flat-lined. We hope it’s because better, wiser strategies are envisioned for the future. For some reason, we’re not sure that’s the case.

Challenges like these have no easy answers, and we’re not critical of any particular policy, program or person. But we still think long-range solutions will require thinking outside the proverbial box. We need to see a destination we haven’t been before. Can anyone out there see it from where you are? -DR

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