April 02, 2020

In July, my husband and I were blessed with the arrival of our first child. Although the care I received at Eastern Maine Medical Center was exemplary, I would have chosen to have my baby at St. Joseph Hospital if it still had a maternity ward.

Why? Since I can remember, I have gone to St. Joseph for everything from broken bones to major surgery. I have always found the staff to be professional and caring. I have never had a lengthy wait for an answer to a nurse call bell, and I have always received excellent care from the staff. In short, I prefer St. Joseph. Period.

While I’m sure there are others who feel the same way about EMMC, the issue is not which hospital is superior. At issue is the right of the patient to choose which hospital he or she employs. If a patient prefers one hospital to another, he or she should be able to go to that hospital. One should not fear retribution from his or her insurance company or refusal by his or her physician. Patients should not have to consult business managers and bean counters for their health care. They should not be forced to pay a higher fee to go where they choose, nor should they be unable to receive care from their primary care physician at the hospital of their choice. One singular, gigantic entity should not rule the health care of an entire region.

As consumers, we should realize that we employ physicians and hospitals to provide health care for us. Most of us pay sizable insurance premiums, deductibles and co-payments. In other words, we are the boss. We should have the right to choose who will be handling our surgical-medical cases and which hospital will be handling those surgical-medical cases. Without competition, we will ultimately have no choice. As the race for who will make the most bucks rages on, we the consumers will continue to lose our freedom of choice. While I feel that prudent business measures are needed to rein in the costs of health care, I do not believe limiting choices for patients ever was, or should ever be, an option. Melissa Fish Glenburn

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