Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Viewpoint on Health Care

The promise of health care reform appears to be a victory for the average person who has been frustrated by arbitrary decisions of the medical insurance bureaucracy and other flaws in the delivery of care. But there is one big problem that legislation can't cure here in the Queen City and that is the flight of practitioners in the last quarter-century.

Park Avenue used to be known as "Doctors' Row" at one time, but the ranks have thinned considerably. This began even before the Muhlenberg troubles. We used to have an opthalmologist, neurologist, endocrinologist, general practitioner, dentist and other providers right here in the city, but as I have noted before, they have all moved out.

It is my belief that no matter how many new apartments or condos get built, no matter how many shops and restaurants open, unless people have better access to health care, Plainfield will be less attractive than a community that has an adequate array of practitioners. Sure, there is the health center, but my son's experience there invariably includes hours of waiting for service. I don't know why.

Transit-oriented development is a great concept and one that I personally embrace. I would not want to be living out in Somerset or Hunterdon county suburbs where each adult in a household needs a car to get around. The other end of the spectrum is New York City or Seattle, where one can live well without a car. Plainfield has a lot of people without cars, either by choice or necessity, but also many good transit links. There are many taxis as well, but they tend to be expensive and in my experience, drivers don't follow the rate chart.

So where do people go for everyday health care and how do they get there? A lot of people go to "doc-in-a-box" centers out of town. There is still a satellite emergency department at Muhlenberg which has recently advertised service for common ailments such as colds and earaches, which in a way makes it competitive with the Plainfield Health Center. It might be interesting to compare charges for visits to each for treatment of a simple medical problem.

Now that the medical buildings on Park Avenue have largely emptied out, it's unlikely that the city will enjoy another such concentration of health care providers. What might the future hold in the way of accessibility to general practitioners and specialists? If there is any way to entice a cadre of health care providers back to the city as an adjunct to development, it should be pursued as vigorously as the push to attract developers. Health care reform without reasonable access to providers will be a hollow promise indeed.

--Bernice Paglia


Blogger Colleen Gibney said...

Bernice, I agree. Plainfield should have this level of service. But in lieu of this, I have been able to find offices within walking distance of the Westfield and Cranford train stations. Wouldn't it be great if Union County produced a simple web-guide of businesses on each stop of the Raritan Valley Line in the county?

10:23 AM  
Blogger olddoc said...

Rather than now devoting time on my blog (plug) to my take on the impact of the new law, I am using yours to note that at best it has no value. Without resources the increased number needing services can not be coped with by our inadequate provider services.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in a community of 4500 -not 45,000, across from tremendous Super Mkt and NYC Bus stop and it's 15 minutes from Plfd. The Med'l facility is also in my new "Hometown"
Plfd was our Hometown.
There are places nearby other than NYC and Plfd!!
Happy Holidays Do miss you all and enjoy CLIPS

4:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have to take a look as to what is the reason why we have lost so many health providers in this city. I can give you many reasons, but one major one is the concept of safety. Plainfield has been a city where safety has been a major concern for many residents and out of town residents. Plainfield's reputation in this field has been very poor. If we don't give a perception about how safe our city is, then we won't only lose the providers we currently have, but as well other part of our economical areas in this city.

In the business world, safety is essential. It provides the drive for consumers to be attracted to the business and services provided. If Plainfield keeps this trend then we, the residences, will pay for it.

2:28 PM  

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