What would Mr. Obici do?

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Monday’s announcement that Obici Hospital will merge with Sentara Healthcare System should come as no surprise to those who follow what has been happening in the healthcare industry.

Over the past decade or longer, small, independent community hospitals, such as Obici, have gone the way of the general store.

It’s like the man said when getting ready to close his store, &uot;Once Wal-Mart opened up, all people seemed to be interested in was low prices, a large selection and convenient parking.&uot;

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The same can be said for healthcare, banking or any industry for that matter.

Larger operations can bargain with suppliers for lower costs, eliminate redundancies, saving money, and have the resources to hire the expertise needed to navigate the increasingly complex federal and HMO regulations that govern reimbursement.

Forgetting for a moment the enormous emotional attachment many in Suffolk have to Mr. Obici and the wonderful facility he provided us, a strong, independent hospital was also a source of pride for our community and was another mark of Suffolk’s uniqueness.

With that said, as Obici Board Chairman Sam Glasscock said Monday, our local hospital could have easily continued to pay its way and function as an independent entity, but the price for that independence, in the long run, would have meant lower quality health care for the people of Suffolk and the surrounding area served by Obici.

We can’t believe that would have been in line with Mr. Obici’s wishes. He left money in his will to establish a hospital so that the people of his adopted home would have access to top quality care and, also as Glasscock noted, had he been around today, he would have blessed this merger.

There are few families in our community who do not have some attachment to Obici hospital, either as an employee or patient. The proposed merger with Sentara will guarantee that the hospital is around to touch lives for future generations.