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Comprehensive Local Healthcare Services Need Our Support

April 21, 2009 by WLKM 

In 2008 our mother, Marion Hermen, passed away after living 94 wonderful years. Her life story would include all of the special persons she met and liked along the way, even in her final weeks as her chronic heart condition progressed. She was treated locally at Three Rivers Health, not only for the convenience to home, family, and friends, but for the rather remarkable availability of the services and special care she needed in her final journey. Had the following services not been available on the campus at Three Rivers Health, the quality of the end of her life may not have been the same.

Over a period of 11 weeks my mother (and mother-in-law) received a variety of compassionate care from nurses, physicians, physical therapists, lab technicians, social workers, home health services care aides, ambulance paramedics and, not to be forgotten (as she would remind us) wonderful nursing students and the maintenance staff at the hospital. The list could go on. As her illness progressed she used many medical services without having to leave Three Rivers. They included visits to Dr. Patel’s office, the emergency room, the intensive care unit, the medical unit, the isolation unit on the medical unit and Home Heathcare for a brief period between the holidays. Upon returning to the hospital she was able to see many of the staff (who immediately reconnected with Marion) that got to know her in the first hospitalization. A recommended nursing home placement was avoided by remaining on the medical unit with a special designation granted to Three Rivers Health by the State permitting a “Swing-Bed” assignment . Her condition progressed rapidly and her last day was spent with family at the end of the medical unit hallway in the privacy of an inpatient hospice room and family suite. The common feature of Marion’s care was the comfort and familiarity provided by healthcare staff that she knew, and who knew her. These final days were welcoming, sensitive and reassuring, all of it found right here within our community health system.

Our story is about the caring staff and leadership of our community hospital that has developed a patient first attitude throughout its services, as my mother and our family experienced them. It could have taken place in Kalamazoo as well, but for many reasons we are grateful it did not. We also recognize that many special treatments are best done in large tertiary hospitals where specialists are found. But we would have a hard time understanding how the local community based care of the type my mother received would not be the desire of most citizens. If community hospitals of the future should disappear, or become transfer stations at best, we believe the quality of life, even at the end of life, will be less. The citizens of the Three Rivers area have repeatedly reinvested in keeping healthcare local and caring in the last 100 years. Please vote Yes on May 5 to support continued local healthcare services in the Three Rivers area.

Ann and Larry Hermen

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