Community health fair an extension of good will that we should accept

Ever felt frustrated about how healthcare works in Sweet Home?

– Those multi-month waits for a doctor’s appointment?

– The obvious effects of poverty on local health?

– That gnawing suspicion that Samaritan Health doesn’t really pay too much attention to Sweet Home’s needs as it builds glitzy new facilities in other communities?

Feeling any lingering resentment over that shocking announcement by Samaritan officials last January that they were planning to convert the assisted living facility at Wiley Creek Retirement Community into a drug treatment facility – and that quick reversal when they learned we really cared?

If any of the above resonate, you need to visit the Sweet Home Community Health Fair and Farmers Market this Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Sweet Home High School Activities Gym. And take along people you know who don’t read the newspaper.

This is the result of your outcry last January. Somebody’s listening – or trying to, at least.

The health fair details are in our report starting on page 1 of today’s edition. But there’s a lot more here than just a happy little health fair, and the onus is, in some ways, on us.

We complained. They are answering. And we need to show up.

It’s summer, which can be a challenging time to plan any public event in Sweet Home. Many local residents work inconvenient schedules in forestry-related fields due to fire season restrictions. School’s not in session, so people who don’t read the newspaper or pay attention to the right Facebook pages don’t know what’s going on. People are on the road, finally getting away on that vacation. And for the rest of us, it’s a great time of year to stay outside, so who wants to be indoors?

Sometimes, though, we need to adjust our individual preferences for the benefit of the whole. This is one of those times.

If you were angry that apparently unfeeling Samaritan was going to boot our local elderly and infirm in favor of installing drug addicts at Wiley Creek, if you protested, your voice was heard. We don’t have to go over all that again, but what came out of that interaction was something that could be good for all of us.

City Council members got involved, along with other city leaders. They made it pretty clear that we, as a community, felt like we had gotten the short end of the stick from Samaritan.

So they got together and decided that a first step for Sweet Home was to communicate. That’s what this health fair is about. It’s Samaritan, and a lot of other organizations interested in our well-being, reaching out.

How effective that will be, though, will depend on us. If you feel any of the frustrations we’ve rather bluntly listed at the beginning of this editorial, this is the time to address them. You don’t have to stay four hours. You can stay 15 minutes.

But show up and talk and listen.

Samaritan screwed up. They admitted it and they found out that there were deeper issues here than simply whether Wiley Creek continued as a senior care center. Now they’re trying to do something about it, and it’s not just them. It’s a lot of people who have the same concerns you do, but are working to make things better.

So donate a little of your time to help keep this thing with Samaritan moving – even if you think you’re already healthy enough.

Never know, it could be a healthy conversation.