An election message worth repeating

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Column by Jim Clark

An election message that’s worth repeating


There are a lot of people who immediately think “no” when the prospect of a new tax appears on the ballot. They don’t take the time to figure out how much, or how little, it would cost them, or how much the rejection of that tax could affect their lives.

On Nov. 6, way down at the bottom of the ballot, under the amendments, there’s a tax request from Munroe Regional Medical Center. It’s relatively small, but could have a lasting effect on medical care in this community.

Let me tell you, again, my story.

First, my father. He was a pharmacist who first went to work in the late 1950s at a hospital in Englewood, N.J. I was too young to work by law, but I volunteered for the whole summer, helping him reorganize and categorize his pharmacy. Each bottle had a price written on it … it was in code, taking a 10-letter word and translating it into numbers.

I also ran deliveries of items throughout the hospital … it was there that I first learned the words dextrose and saline … but I couldn’t deliver medicine, someone had to sign out for that.

By the way, there’s nothing more disconcerting for a teen-ager than to start to get on an elevator and be told to wait for the next one, because they were taking a body to the morgue in the basement.

That experience got me familiar with hospitals.

I eventually went into the newspaper field, and dad moved to Atlanta to work at West Paces Ferry Hospital. From there, he transferred to HCA Marion Community Hospital (now ORMC), but only stayed there a short while. He left HCA and went across the street to Munroe, and stayed there until he retired. That’s how I got familiar with Munroe, even though at the time I didn’t live here.

Several years ago I walked into a clinic in northeast Ocala. I was having a little trouble breathing, and I honestly thought I might have a touch of pneumonia.

But they took one look at me and called for an ambulance, and I was whisked to Munroe’s emergency room, where I was diagnosed with “a-fib” in my heart.

I stayed at Munroe for a week, and when I walked out (actually they wheel you out), I felt 100 percent better.

To this day I am convinced that my cardiologist, Dr. Ali Nasser, and Munroe Regional saved my life.

That’s why I’m voting in favor of the hospital tax. You can throw all the facts and figures at me, from both sides, that you want. Some of those arguments are strong from both sides, and some of the anti-tax sentiments are covered elsewhere in this edition today. But for me the decision is simple. Because of Munroe I am here today, and I want things to stay just the way they are.

Sometimes, dollars and cents aren’t vital. Sometimes, life and death are more important.

So for those of you who are campaigning against the tax so you can save a few bucks, well, I hope you’re never one of those being wheeled into the emergency room. But if you are, I hope that people don’t look back on this election and say, “you know, in the old days, we could have saved him.”

Munroe, as it is, saved me. And for me, that’s all that matters.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen.

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