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Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • Community thoughts on hospital name change

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  • Four years ago, when the goal was to gain back local control for Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital, the community made their wishes known when the Attorney General set a lofty goal of $250,000 to show support. The people spoke and showed their solidarity when over $500,000 was raised in just 50 days. It seems it is a time of the community showing their support for this tradition, this icon of memories and many are speaking out against the name change set to take place November 22. The people feel it is an institution, one that many of their parents and ancestors helped start by raising much needed money to build it in the first place. This 64 -year-old hospital is not owned by a large corporation. The people naturally feel a sense of ownership not only by the amount of years and memories they hold but also because so many of us helped raise the money to save it in 2009 and then again in 2011 when the need for Digital Mammography was made known and another $110,000 was raised. Anytime a community bands together, raises tens of thousands of dollars through children's lemonade stands, dinners and bake sales the common goal, in this case a hospital, becomes theirs. It is the place many have seen their children and grandchildren born, maybe had their tonsils removed, set a broken bone or two, you name it. Many have memories, if not all of them pleasant, we have memories. After all, nobody "wants" to go to a hospital, it is a necessity whether it is for tests in the lab or a much needed surgery. My first memory of this hospital was laying in a bed as a six-year-old after having my tonsils removed by Dr. Bartschi when my mom stayed over night in a cot placed next to my bed. I remember my Dad coming on his lunch hour from the nearby Safeway where he was manager, to sit and keep me company and read the San Francisco Chronicle. I still remember what room it was or at least the general area. Of course this has been where I have been taken to the emergency department, both times for injuries to my back, the latest just last month. I am grateful for this hospital, for the emergency department and as many have told me since 2009, grateful to have the hospital here when we need it. The board feels the need to change the name of the hospital, to go along with the many improvements being made through new services and then the upcoming new emergency department. They feel it makes sense to change the name so that other communities feel welcome and that it isn't just available for Biggs and Gridley residents. They chose the name "Orchard Hospital" for the area that we live in, a community full of agriculture. The board has stated they are not forgetting the past, merely operating in alignment with the past and building upon it. The hospital was started in 1949 by innovators who were ready to make changes to meet the needs of the community. "We are doing the same moving forward," a memo to staff explained. While many of us may not understand the new name, or the need to change it from Biggs-Gridley, I know we will keep our memories, remember those who have worked there over the years and taken good care of us, whether it was at age 6 or 54. Not every town is lucky enough to have their own hospital. Some communities have to travel many miles to reach the closest hospital. We have made many friends and instilled many more memories with the many fund raising efforts and successes over the years. For 50 days, the 2009 campaign was the topic of conversation as people watched the "thermometer" increase out on the front lawn and challenges were met by service organizations as they had their pictures taken for the newspaper. It was a time of pride and success, a great time for us to cover at The Gridley Herald. I hope that people will remember the big picture, the reason we worked so hard to preserve the hospital and not dwell on a name many don't understand. For many, it will always be Biggs-Gridley Memorial Hospital, the institution we worked so hard to save. Nobody can take that away from us.
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