Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Rural hospitals can be preserved

Bill Schubart’s dire predictions about Vermont’s outlying hospitals overlook some important issues (Guest editorial, July 2). Vermont can, in fact, sustain its rural hospitals. It is a matter of reallocating our state and federal budgets. For example, do we really need to maintain a huge military on such a global scale? Closing our hospitals will do nothing to lower our health care costs, it will simply transfer the needs and costs to the larger hospitals. Any closing will be a step back when we should be looking ahead.
The pandemic has shown us that we don’t have enough hospital beds as it stands now. Having a local hospital means we are closer to most of the services we need. An air ambulance ride from Middlebury to Burlington will not be cheap, and your insurance may not cover it.
I am surprised that Schubart thinks that Vermont is “overbuilt,” — too many local fire, police and rescue squads. For some reason there are people who want Vermont to be less rural. They want to consolidate everything from hospitals to schools. The intent is to save money, I suppose, but at the cost of doing away with all things local. What is next? Consolidating our local village stores? The very things that make Vermont what it is seem to offend. 
What happens when the virus is gone? We are hearing a chorus of “this changes everything.” I remember solemn reporters using the term after 9/11. Except it turned out not to be true. The only thing that changed was lines at the airport. We should stop looking into the future, and instead wait until the virus is gone. We will have plenty of time to pick up the pieces and decide which way to go.
We will even have time to rearrange our priorities.
Lowell Nottingham
New Haven

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