When I moved to Astoria in 2006, Columbia Memorial Hospital was on its heels. Today I had surgery there, and I will have surgery there again in about three weeks.

I am also being regularly treated for pancreatic cancer at the CMH/OHSU Knight Cancer Collaborative. Astorians no longer need to travel two hours each way to Portland to receive top-notch medical care. We can get it here, in town, at CMH.

That is due in large measure to the hospital’s ability to recruit, train and retain exceptionally capable medical personnel, including its wonderful team of nurses. What I observed today, and what I observe every day that I receive care at CMH, is the fantastic teamwork among all levels of staff.

They care about each other, and about patients. One cannot get this type of care from temporary agency staff. We in the community need to do everything we can to bring the two sides together so that this current labor dispute goes away.

I confess to not knowing what the particular issues are that are keeping the nurses and the administration from settling their differences. I am certain that they are important.

But nothing can be more important than resolving them in a way that maintains the progress that CMH has made, and establishes a sound basis for more improvements in the future.

Many rural communities have lost their hospitals. We must not lose ours. CMH and its staff are crucial members of our community.

BARRY PLOTKIN

Astoria

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