Editor, Gazette:

One year into the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid-19 pandemic, it seems appropriate to check-in on the health of our community and its Medical Center. For the past year, the Fulton County Medical Center (FCMC) community has been working hard to deliver first class health care to our community, while facing the trials and tribulations of the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, we have worked to acquire and properly distribute as much vaccine as possible. Supply and distribution slowdowns have been a point of frustration, but we carry on undeterred.

As we extend a special thank you to the frontline workers in local health care, who have shown exceptional courage, and endurance, in ongoing efforts to protect and heal their neighbors; we also pause to remember friends and family we have lost in the last year. As Covid-19 infections decline and an increasing number of our citizens are vaccinated against the disease that has taken so much from us, we are hopeful that we are on the road to normalcy.

Unfortunately, effects of the pandemic have also led to reduced patient volume in many facets of local health care and that has led to difficult decisions to reduce staff and some services at the Fulton County Medical Center. These strategies have not been undertaken lightly, but are necessary to maintain the long term financial health of our community’s hospital.

In the best of times, rural health care is a difficult business model. The non-profit Fulton County Medical Center does not work to profit a few, or for investors or stockholders; but instead aspires to continually improve the health of our community. FCMC strives for modest profits so that we may maintain facilities, expand available services, provide good jobs and ensure our long-term presence in the community. In the face of many rural health care facility closures and the acquisition of other facilities by larger corporations and hospital groups, FCMC has proudly maintained its independence, believing that business and health care decisions are best made close to home. None of that is poised to change in the near future, but we will need the support of those we serve to ensure long-term success.

While a global pandemic has caused us to recognize and appreciate the importance of local health care, it has also resulted in a dramatic decline in the number of people seeking those health care services. The relative isolation of folks in 2020 dramatically reduced the presence of the flu and other contagious diseases, like the coronavirus, in our community. Unfortunately, a hesitancy to venture out, and an underlying fear of exposing ourselves to germs in public places, like hospitals, has led many to delay, or forego trips to the doctor’s office or their regular medical care. In addition to potentially adversely affecting a person’s long-term health, this declining demand for health care services also creates greatly reduced revenue for rural health care.

As we all continue to work to protect the health of our loved ones and neighbors, in hopes that we are nearing the end of a difficult chapter in our lives, we of the Fulton County Medical Center would ask that, in addition to obtaining your vaccine as soon as you are able, please remember to take care of yourself, seek medical care when necessary, focus on preventative measures that will keep you at your healthiest, and choose local health care providers when possible, which will help maintain these services in our community long into the future.

To all of those who have supported our local health care facilities by utilizing available services, and to all of those who have generously donated their time, talents and dollars, we offer a sincere Thank You.

FCMC Board

of Directors

Contact Will DeShong at wdeshong@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 150.

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