When I first heard that the hospital was having serious financial issues, my initial reaction was excitement over having my first true investigative piece in my newer career as a journalist. I was excited to have hard news and to be able to dig in and use my nosiness and skills to get the scoops.
And it has been interesting and even thrilling as I slowly uncover more information. I like understanding stories…the details, the why, the people in them and more. I like asking the questions, gathering the information and then using my love for writing to attempt to make it all understandable to the public. And I am learning so much which is always my goal.
What I hadn’t planned on was the heartbreak and the emotional aspect of it all. When this story started with me, HCH was a building, an entity. However, I was quickly reminded that our hospital is the people. It’s the people who work there, who sacrifice so much to be able to serve their community. It’s the people who are public servants in this town, who are carrying some heavy weight on their shoulders as they try to make the best decisions. And it’s the people of the community who need a local hospital for all sorts of medical needs.
Even saying people when it comes to the hospital employees doesn’t convey how personal it is. It’s my friend’s mom, who works at the front desk. It’s my friend, whose family’s sole source of income is from the hospital. It’s the moms and dads of my kids’ friends and classmates who work there. It’s the mom I stand by at swim meets, as we cheer our swimmers on, who tirelessly treats patients and provides a listening ear, sometimes even to me when I am in there with a sick kid. It’s our peers, our friends and our fellow members of the community.
My heart breaks with each off-the-record conversation I have, as they share the personal pain through all of this and they share their fears. The journalist in me doesn’t even really care when I’m told solid information that I can’t quote or use because they are all so scared of losing even more. I see their pain. I see their fear. I hear their hurt at the careless and uniformed comments made to them by people in our community as they shop at our local stores and attend our local churches.
And it isn’t just the hospital employees. I hear the words of our mayor and city administrator, but more, I hear their own heartbreak and sadness for this hospital mess. They aren’t just city employees. They are also community members, and this hurts them deeply.
All of us are affected by this. All of us are nervous and concerned about what might be. We need to remember this as we discuss it and interact with those who are living it. The city officials still have to make hard decisions, and newspapers, lawyers and others still have to ask the hard questions and get to the truth. But we all need to be encouraging and hopeful together as we wait to see how it all pans out.
– Laura Fowler Paulus – Hillsboro Free Press Reporter