No Axe to Grind – Simply in Pursuit of the Facts

“Everyman has a right to his own opinion, 

but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts.”

        -Bernard Baruch

By Bill Powers                                   

Do I have an “axe to grind” with Hartford Heath Care? Hell No! On the contrary, Hartford Hospital is where I took my first breath. Fortunately for me, my family lived only a few blocks from the hospital.  In the first month of infancy, I developed pneumonia, and during a heavy snowstorm, my father ran through the streets with me in his arms to the hospital. They saved my life!  

Twenty-five years later, as a young registered respiratory therapist, it was tremendously exciting to return to the hospital to develop a new program at their School of Allied Health to educate respiratory therapists and technicians. Later, I was promoted to technical director of a newly organized Respiratory Care Department. Today I am honored that that my photo with my medical director, Donald R. Morrison, hangs in the Lobby of Hartford Hospital in the History of Hartford Hospital Photographic Gallery. 

During those years I was able to take advantage of the hospital’s nationally recognized employee development program that included management skills training and a generous tuition reimbursement benefit. That benefit allowed me to complete my bachelor’s and two master’s degrees. The Master’s in Health Care Management from Hartford Graduate Center/R.P.I. qualified me for the Operating Room Manager’s position at the hospital and eventually for two hospital administration jobs at other medical centers. The positions at Hartford Hospital gave me the opportunity to actively participate in the evolution of a growing profession by serving at state and national elected and appointed leadership roles. I was able to write and see my articles published in allied health and medical journals as well as presenting our work at national meetings. For me Hartford Hospital was a “land of opportunity and personal growth” 

After three decades, it was time for me to change my career path. Institutions that were to become integral parts of what is now Hartford Health Care (HHC) have significantly and thankfully contributed to that goal. As part of my master’s degree in clinical/community psychology, Natchaug Hospital in Mansfield welcomed me for internships in psychology and addictive behaviors. The clinicians were generous with their time, demonstrating and explaining that allowed me to refine assessment techniques, interventions and therapeutic techniques. 

Windham Community Memorial Hospital (WCMH) granted me privileges to work in their Emergency Department (E.D.) and to see inpatients as a Licensed Professional Counselor while a provider with United Services. I was able to work with an incredibly talented and compassionate group of E.D. doctors, community psychiatrists, nurses and other support staff, while providing crisis intervention, emergency behavioral assessments and placements. I witnessed their dedication and teamwork and loved being part of their team. 

The people who worked at Hartford Hospital, Natchaug Hospital and the WCMH’s E.D. when I was there contributed greatly to my development as a clinician, as a professional, and as a person, and I am deeply indebted to them. For them it was so much more than a job. It was a passion to help humankind. 

I hope that you have read my other article in this issue of Neighbors titled “First It Was the Loss of Intensive Care Then Inpatient Maternity Services – What’s Next?”  Perhaps now you will understand why I have “no axe to grind” but currently have “a bone to pick” with HHC/WCMH. I have gathered what appear to be numerous “facts”, that are not just opinions, from passionate opponents of the termination of critical services at WCMH. In order to write a story that is fair, balanced and factual, I need “facts” from HHC and WCMH as they see them, and they are not willing to have a conversation about that. It is unfortunate and disheartening. We deserve the facts. We deserve transparency and the truth about our health care services and who, when, where and how decisions about our health care are being made. 

Bill Powers is a former, respiratory therapist, teacher, counselor and health care administrator.

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