Delivered to 15,000 Plainfield "doorsteps" Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Sunday

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Nancy Piwowar's full-page ad in support of Muhlenberg

Crutches issued to Nancy by Muhlenberg in 1974,
as part of recuperating from successful surgery.

An Open Letter to the Muhlenberg Community

On behalf of five generations of my family who, for nearly a century, have resided in the Plainfield area, I take this opportunity to extend my family's appreciation and thanks to the Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center family who have graciously and consistently given healing care to us and to thousands of others in the local area.

The doctors, nurses, health care professionals, and other Muhlenberg support personnel deserve a heartfelt debt of gratitude for their unwavering high level of care in the most trying of times.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recently placed an almost full page ad in area newspapers promoting the HHS Hospital Compare website for NJ consumers. Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center was one of twenty area hospitals mentioned. In the two quality measures listed, "Percentage of people who receive antibotics 1 hour before surgery and Percentage of people who always received help when they needed it," MRMC scored higher than the New Jersey State average. In the first list it was in the top five, and in the second list it was in the top eight, and better than a hospital located in Edison. So...Why is Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center slated to close?

Muhlenberg is an essential hospital for the tri-county area, and meets the criteria in the Reinhardt report, "New Jersey Commission on Rationalizing Health Care Resources, Final Report 2008." So...Why is Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center slated to close?

To the common man, woman, and young person - this does not make sense. The employees and staff of Muhlenberg have done an efficient job, and have provided a level of health care to area residents that well exceeds the New Jersey State average. So...Why is Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center slated to close?

In the event of a "homeland security" situation, whether created by nature, floods or storms, or man made, industrial accidents or train derailment, has an explanation been given to the local communities as to emergency preparedness plans? What happens if there is a surge in emergencies? Are the other hospitals prepared for a mass emergency in the Plainfield area or will the people of the Plainfield area be forgotten and left to fend for themselves like the people of New Orleans? Can the surrounding hospitals absorb the almost 11,000 yearly emergency cases? How long will the ER waiting times become? Will medical care be as efficient as offered at Muhlenberg? What are the answers to the diversion questions that are asked in the "National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey: Pandemic and Emergency Response Preparedness Supplement 2008 panel?"

There is a continued ground swell of community activism that has been present in the Plainfield area for over 130 years. When Muhlenberg was incorporated in 1877, the Board stated, "The said association shall be formed for the purposes of care, cure and nuture of sick and injured persons." Later in 1878, the Board of Governors by formal resolution declared that "Muhlenberg Hospital is, and shall ever be, a free, unsectarian and undenominational institution, always open, to the extent of its capacity, to those, of whatever creed or nationality, who may need its good office."

The ethical and moral standards that the founding citizens mandated for Muhlenberg were always utmost in their mind and hearts for the future citizenry of the Plainfield area. That is why Muhlenberg always served the poor, indigent, and uninsured, and why Muhlenberg has had generous financial support for more than a century from area residents, employees, board members, medical professionals, local municipalities, county, state, and federal government and the insured. In the early days of Muhlenberg local churches set aside the last Sunday in December as "Hospital Sunday" and took up a collection for Muhlenberg Hospital to balance the budget each year. Even the poorest of the poor, who on Harvest Home day, would contribute soap, bandages, pies, whiskey, and whatever else they could spare to "repay" the Muhlenberg that helped them. The people have done their part for over 130 years.

Muhlenberg Hospital served the area residents in the 1918 flu epidemic. Muhlenberg survived the "Roaring Twenties," even though the amount of "free" work was 40% of the budget in 1924. Muhlenberg survived the "Great Depression" under the leadership of Miss Marie Louis. No patient was turned away and no services were cut, even though the towns were not supporting the indigent care bill. An effort was then begun to assess the towns for their fair share of indigent care. Miss Louis also engineered a plan and had a greenhouse built on Muhlenberg property to supply fresh vegetables for patients and staff for over 30 years. Muhlenberg was the site of many medical miracles including one in the 1930's when a teletype was sent out to the nation for assistance to save a dying infant. A retired military doctor answered and flew into Hadley Airport with the knowledge enabling a young Muhlenberg surgeon to perform the surgery due to the military doctor having lost the use of his hands during the war. That infant is now over 70 years old. Muhlenberg survived World War II through volunteerism even though half of the medical staff joined the armed forces. In the 1967 "black-out," which lasted 6 hours, Muhlenberg operated normally because leadership made sure there were adequate generators to continue to serve patients during times of need.

Now it is time for the New Jersey State Government to find the "Political Will" to make the decision to keep Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center open as a full service acute care facility for the Muhlenberg employees and staff, local economy, and thousands of tri-county residents. Muhlenberg has survived for over 130 years by the generosity of people and has provided quality health care service to the people. The power is now in the elected State officials' hands to serve the public and protect the public health. So...Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center should be slated to stay open!
Nancy A. Piwowar
  • Born in Muhlenberg Hospital and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey.
  • Graduate of Jefferson School, Washington School, Hubbard Junior High School,
  • Plainfield High School, Class of 1970, and Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA, Class of 1974.
(This message appeared as a full-page ad in the print edition of the Courier News, Friday, June 20, 2008, and was paid for by Nancy A. Piwowar.)

-- Dan Damon

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