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Opinion: The personal cost of health care

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Health care: Two simple words, but when combined they can mean so much to a community.

In Greene County, it means more than 29,000 jobs ands hundreds of millions in construction revenue as Springfield’s two largest employers continue to spread their wings and reach for the sky. But to many, it’s just another soapbox for politicians to fight over.

Terms like the Affordable Care Act, health insurance exchanges, pre-existing conditions and “Obamacare” mean little to the average person until it’s their loved one laying in that hospital bed.

There is no pain on earth like seeing a loved one suffer. While not a mother yet during my 29 years, last week I accompanied my mom to the hospital for carpal tunnel surgery.

The entire process could not have gone smoother.

While mom deserves some credit for soldiering through the endless poking and prodding, the real kudos go to the hospital staff.

From the moment we set foot in the door at 6 a.m., they greeted us with a smile and that attitude never stopped. From their cheer, I can surmise two things: They require much less coffee to kick start the morning than I or, simply, they love their jobs.

Based on my experience that day, I’m inclined to say the latter.

As we walked down the never-ending white hallways, I chatted with mom’s nurse. She got there at 5:30 a.m., even though her shift didn’t start until 8 a.m. She was there to help alleviate the load from the 350 surgeries the hospital would see that day. She volunteered her time that day, the day before and I suspect, the day after.

That’s the attitude of a health care champion. She, and every other staffer who visited our room that morning, from the phlebotomist to the surgical nurse, wore a smile on their faces and walked with a spring in their steps.

The implementation – or lack thereof – of Obamacare will never change that smile.

The Springfield Business Journal has partnered with the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce for the fourth year to celebrate that dedication to our community. The chamber’s Salute to Health Care honors two doctors and SBJ’s Health Care Champions this year honors individuals in the categories of dietician/nutritionist, radiology technician, speech therapist and health care volunteer.

The Health Care Champions were chosen by a panel of five independent judges and we thank them for their hard work and sound judgement in choosing the 2013 honorees.

The SBJ staff is honored to tell the stories of these champions: People such as Betty Ann Harris, who currently holds the record for most time on the job as a volunteer at 43 years, and Donna Webb, who noticed a need in our community and assisted in the development of Cox College’s dietetic internship and masters program.

This year’s event will honor two doctors and 11 health care champions at 6 p.m. Oct. 22 at the Ramada Plaza Hotel and Oasis Convention Center.

Congratulations to all honorees past and present, but I know there are so many more out there who contribute to the health and success of our community each day.

On behalf of the staff at the Springfield chamber and SBJ, we salute you for all you’re doing, all you have done and all you will do in the future.

Keep smiling.

Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Emily Letterman can be reached at
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