Letters to the Editor - The Millerton News - 12-22-22
Thanks for support of youth theater
Amenia’s Free Theater Arts Program concluded on Saturday, Dec. 17, with its final performance, “Holiday Musical Revue.” With support from a $3,500 grant from BTCF’s Northeast Dutchess Fund, this 10-week program began on Oct. 15 with a series of 2-hr. Saturday workshops held in the auditorium at Amenia’s Town Hall.
Instructor Heather Holohan-Guarneri helped students learn how to read sheet music, introduced them to basic acting skills, dance (the Charleston, swing dance, waltz and jazz), and provided professional vocal lessons. Each student was then individually cast in the Musical Revue featuring popular show tunes from White Christmas, Elf, and The Sound of Music.
Many thanks to the parents and students who made this performance a success. Thanks also to Tessa Fountain, Assistant Instructor; Alex Freeman, Technical Director; John Nowak, Facilities Manager; and Mike Flint, Videographer, who took care of a myriad of details to make the show come together seamlessly.
The holiday performance will be aired on Cablevision’s Public Access Channel 22 from Monday, Dec. 19, through Christmas. A schedule for the airing of the show will be posted on Channel 22.
Amenia Town Councilwoman
Sharon Hospital could be at risk
I read with interest Lloyd Baroody’s guest editorial in last week’s Lakeville Journal. I, too, have lived here for decades, practicing internal medicine and cardiology and treating patients for more than 40 years at Sharon Hospital. My late wife had our three children there and she and I were treated in the ICU.
Since the Covid pandemic, the demographics of the tri-state area have shifted due to an influx of young families from New York. The housing market, infant formula sales and school enrollment reflect this trend. Many of the speakers at the Dec. 6 public hearing before the Office of Health Strategy were new residents who want to have children here.
If Health Quest had not threatened closure of the maternity unit here in 2018 and had Nuvance not done so in 2020, Sharon Hospital would probably be maintaining its historic 250-260 deliveries yearly. With proper marketing of our exemplary unit, the number of deliveries could exceed 300.
Studies have shown that hospitals that close maternity eventually close. Nuvance claims it is losing money and that maternity loses $3 million annually. Community members with financial expertise dispute these figures, noting that Nuvance failed to bill for services provided by Sharon Hospital, failed to credit other revenue, and loaded all expenses for after-hours surgery onto maternity. Nuvance claims that it must cut maternity, the ICU and 24-7 surgery.
For its last reported fiscal year, Nuvance showed a gain of $105 million (excess revenue over expenses), positive cash flow from operations, an increase in net assets of $242 million, and $3.8 billion in total assets. Thus, the stated $3 million L&D operating loss is neither significant nor material given the assets and earnings of Nuvance.
Since the hospital was first sold in 2002, five owners, for-profit and not-for-profit, have reduced or closed services (oncology, pain management, sleep medicine, neurology, radiology, etc.). Closing maternity, downgrading the ICU and terminating surgery capability after business hours are cuts too far.
Save Sharon Hospital is mobilizing the community to preserve vital services. Responsibility for most 2021-22 losses must be laid at Nuvance’s feet. In 2020, the first year after promising state regulators it wouldn’t cut services for five years after they approved the merger that formed Nuvance, Dr. Mark Hirko, then president of Sharon Hospital, told maternity and ICU staff their units were closing — NOT may be closing. Not surprisingly, many staff members left, forcing Nuvance to hire very expensive traveling nurses rather than hiring cost-effective permanent replacements.
Nuvance must face the realities of rural hospitals today. It must be transparent with its finances and plans. It must form a partnership with the community as well as the state and federal government to increase reimbursement rates and take other steps to maintain vital services in rural areas like ours.
If not, Sharon Hospital will end up like the 134 rural hospitals that closed nationwide between 2010 and 2020. The hospital will close not because of Save Sharon Hospital, but because of mismanagement.
David Kurish, MD
Compass topics: timing was off
I read the most recent issue of Compass and was surprised by the tone. These are certainly fraught times we’re living in, but then seeing stories about: “Lars Von Trier’s Vision of Hell” and “The Hell of the NYC Homeless Crisis.” And opening it up to “Where Are You Going? Heaven or Hell” and “The Scent of Angels, The smell of Christmas memories, but oh so dirty.” “The Hell of Your Home” and “Purgatory of Pain.” The disturbing photo on page 10. All too much.
I have enough going on in my life, trying to wrap my head around the sad state of affairs in this country and worrying about my grandchildren and what the planet will be like for them in the future without seeing this “bold artistic effort.” I get the concept, but this is not the time for it. (P.S. I grew up in Lime Rock where I spent many a happy Christmas at the darkest time of the year.)