To the editor:
Back in the early 1950s, when I was in high school, the leaders of Halifax County set about raising money for a new local hospital.
That bold move was touch and go and it became the topic of conversation around many dinner tables for a very long time.
Donations were taken by volunteers along the sidewalks of South Boston and Halifax and finally the last hurdle was cleared and we had our first brand new hospital — hallelujah.
Despite all the claims to the contrary, our hospital is very much a creation of the hard work of many fine people — therefore I would venture to say that the people of this county are the rightful owners of our hospital — they put up all of the seed money. It has been a bumpy ride over the years, but we made it through, thanks to the hard work of many dedicated leaders and board members.
In recent years a trend developed where many local hospitals were put up for sale. Two neighbors to the west, Danville and Martinsville, sold their hospitals for approximately $300 million each, we are told. Halifax soon followed suit, but instead of receiving a large cash sum for our hospital — hold on — we gave our hospital to Sentara — again, so we’re told, it was given away. Why? And to Sentara, a large corporation from far-away Norfolk that owns 10 money-making hospitals. Much of the information I am sharing with you is hearsay because nobody wants to talk about it. That’s absurd! The good people of Halifax County need to know the truth behind all of this. After all our parents and grandparents put up the money and we deserve the courtesy of a reply.
So, like it or not, we are now part of the Sentara family of nine or 10 hospitals — they say. We are also told that our hospital is the only one that doesn’t make money — so they say — and now they want to throw us out with the bathwater. I don’t think we want to be a member of that family—do you? Is that the way the Sentara family works? In most caring Christian families, when one child becomes ill, all pitch in to heal that child. Perhaps we should alert all of Sentara’s other hospitals about what the big-boss is doing.
In summary, let me say that much of the information I have shared with you is hearsay — only because nobody wants to talk about any of this —and therein lies the problem. To alleviate that problem, We the People of Virginia Inc., will, in the very near future, sponsor a public forum in our high school auditorium and we will invite all the hospital board members and Sentara executives.
Hopefully, this meeting will clear the air so that we can all move forward together in the very near future. We have successfully held similar meetings at the high school in the past on issues ranging from uranium mining to factory farming and we have a well-established track record in that regard.
Chairman of We the People of Virginia, Inc.