Letter to the editor: Big things happen when a community comes together

On April 5th, Porter Medical Center’s Community Development Council and the Counseling Service of Addison County came together to present a conversation for our community. The topic: Depression and Anxiety. We had five expert panelists (Dr. Mike Seaton-pediatrician at PMC, Dr. Natasha Withers-family medicine at PMC, Alison Underwood-mental health counselor at PMC, Melanie Bouchard-school based clinician at CSAC, Carolyn Gillis-coordinator of adult outpatient and substance abuse disorders at CSAC) and the Chief Medical Officer and OBGYN at Porter Women’s Health (Dr. Anna Benvenuto) to facilitate.

Their compassion was evident and their commitment to this community was clearly on display as they, after a full day of work, sat in front of the crowd (of about 50 people) and with patience, kindness and care answered our guests’ questions. We covered everything from the role that social media exposure and screen time plays in the mindset of children to how to recognize the difference between occasional sadness and depression in a loved one to how to tell if your post-partum blues are serious enough to address with your provider.

Porter Medical Center has begun an initiative for community engagement which is spearheaded by a new Community Relations Committee, which I have the honor of chairing. I serve in this role along with seven community members. These are your friends and neighbors, who believe in this initiative and show up to plan and execute these community events. With the assistance of the Director of Development (Amy Bodette Barr) and the support of the Senior Leadership team at Porter Medical Center, we’re going to be in the public eye more and more.

Why did I choose this? Aren’t I busy enough? Isn’t someone else, with more training and experience going to do it? These are the questions I asked myself. As I contemplated the invitation to be involved in this manner, I came to one conclusion. This community needs this hospital. This hospital needs this community. And, we have to do the work to connect the two in a meaningful and productive way. We need the community to see the value in having this hospital not only exist but thrive for years to come.

So, we have this series of community conversations ahead of us. We call it “the fishbowl series” — the topics will vary but revolve around healthcare and our intention is to answer questions that most people are curious about but may not feel comfortable asking in a public forum. The “fishbowl” is your opportunity to provide a question to the panelist in an anonymous format. Keep an eye out for posters around town, posts on Front Porch Forum and other social media outlets, as well as right here in the local paper.

Some conversations may be more specific, and some may be more general in nature. We want you there. We want you to bring your friends and neighbors, your parents, your children. We want to spark the conversation, some of which will continue with your peers, your primary care or specialist docs, your therapist, your best pal in another state or your spouse/companion. However you value the conversation, however you keep the conversation going, do what’s right for you.

If you’d like to be directly notified of an event being offered by Porter Medical Center and this committee, please send an email to [email protected] with “add me to the fishbowl!” in the subject line. Be sure to include your full name and any other contact information you want to share with us.

I’m incredibly grateful for my colleagues in this: Chair of the Community Development Council — Churchill Franklin; our two other committee chairs — Anne Collins (Signature Gifts) and Sharon Meacham (PMC Employees); and the volunteers on my committee that are helping us get this work done: Jackie Beacham, Ashleigh Klein, Dave Donahue, Kate Gridley, Mary Heather Noble, Megan Brady, and Meghan Allen.

Amey Ryan

Community Relations, Chair


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