The true measure of a community

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2004

During the last few weeks my family has had a bit of medical crisis.

My father has had many health issues including three triple bypass surgeries in the last several years and recently he has had a blockage of the blood supply to his left leg, which required his leg be amputated.

A few years ago he also had other medical problems that necessitated that he move in with my family here in Suffolk.

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As an avid desert-rat from Arizona, it has been a move of necessity for him, rather than choice.

The reason that I chose to write about this situation was to confirm many of the reasons my family chose to live in Suffolk.

While I do not agree with some of the public policy issues that rotate within the local dialog, especially the reluctance of our local government to give some form of reasonable tax relief, I do find Suffolk to be a truly great community.

It is a clean community that holds conservative beliefs in the strengths of family, church, and progressive growth that enhances our quality of life.

In short; it is God’s country…

I do however raise an eyebrow about the ten percent raise our City Manager recently garnered for himself, while he has steadfastly stated that it would be imprudent to grant any tax relief.

I have also noted the many unexplained projects like our new hotel and marina (aka: &uot;Little Norfolk Water-side&uot;) and the myopic focus on downtown development at any cost.

I also agree with many other commentators in our community, that we should not be renting property for ongoing operations when it is prudent to just build it now and save the rental costs.

I specifically agree that it is past time to move toward a process in support of a directly elected Mayor.

However all of these issues fall short of the real criteria we all should assess our community and that is what I will attempt to describe in detail…

The fundamental measure of any community is not in the wealth that it has to showcase, or the political power it can wield, it is the support and manner that it takes care of the hurt and injured that cannot take care of themselves.

There have been many writers who have attempted many phrases to describe this thought, but the issue deals with taking care of the sick and broken with compassion and sincere concern.

After setting only a few minutes in the emergency room of Obici Hospital, I proceeded to describe the symptoms that my father was suffering on a late Sunday evening.

The young lady behind the emergency room desk was very thoughtful and understood the gravity of the situation and whisked us into see a young doctor working the late night shift.

He immediately started assessing the issues and called upon his colleagues for more advice.

After some testing and probing, Dad was admitted to the hospital where a battery of tests was conducted in this clean and well-managed community hospital.

The staff was professional, well organized, and cared for those in their charge with great compassion.

After a few tests, it was clear that the blockage was severe and the doctors would have to amputate the leg to save my father.

To delay would invite another heart attack or stroke, so we signed the papers and off he went to surgery.

After the surgery, needless to say Dad was under great duress and pain.

This was relieved by a professional staff of nurses and others who delivered service cheerfully and in a kind method.

After a few days of rest, Dad was ready to be transferred to rehabilitation and I made arrangements for him at the Lake Prince Center here in Suffolk.

I was very impressed with the physical condition of the new facility, but was most impressed with the kind and professional staff I found.

Even though the facility was at full capacity, they found room for my father in a modern, clean, and well-appointed room.

The clean, cheerful, and positive setting has raised Dad’s spirits greatly and he is well on the way to mending properly and in a manner to enjoy many more years of life.

My assessment of Suffolk was based upon the intangible issues I had always assumed were there and have been fully validated during the last few weeks of crisis.

This validation is that our community has a wealth of resources that are critical to a truly great city.

We have one of the best community hospitals in the area, equipped with the most modern equipment available and staffed by professional caregivers.

We have some of the best facilities in the area for our sick and elderly, in the Lake Prince Center, also staffed by caregivers that truly care for our elderly, sick and infirmed.

The true measure of our success can be found as I have noted, in the high priority we as a community have given in developing and supporting good medical care and the support of those least able to care for themselves.

Under this real measure, both the Obici Hospital and Lake Prince Center rightfully represent all that is good and right about our community.

I am happy and proud to say, I live and reside in Suffolk….

Roger Leonard is a Suffolk businessman and a regular News-Herald columnist. He can be reached at