Loss hurts. Before, during and after. Kingston found out this week that another blow is on its way, as it looks pretty certain that one of her two hospitals is going to get shut down. It’s not clear which one it’s going to be, nor is it clear how many really good jobs are going to be erased from the community. But it is clear that the community is going to be diminished by this.
The closing of an institution, be it a school, hospital, armory or longtime business, leaves a hole, both physically and emotionally. It’s proof in a very tangible and irrefutable sense that things are not going so well. It’s a hurt that lingers, too, a reduction recalled every time the vacant building is passed, or when school days at a school no longer open are brought up, or when it’s time to get a new whatever and the store where whatever was bought is now closed. Remember Meagher School? It’s not there anymore. Remember the Rhinebeck Gazette? That folded a few years ago. Remember the old A&P? Are there even any of those left? Cue the sad feelings and the wistful longing.
Explaining how a particular closure makes a particular operation more efficient or how something needed to happen or how, hey, we live in a capitalist society where the market dictates things like this … it might help. Satisfaction from increased efficiency or the relief of anxiety gained from filling dire necessity are not warm feelings, though. They don’t give the impression of a city on the go, speeding along on its way to fun times, big things and widespread prosperity. Rather, it’s the feeling of tightening the belt, clipping the coupons and praying to God things don’t get worse. Once shut, things like schools and hospitals rarely get reopened. “Like it never even happened” almost never happens.
In the weeks to come, there will be a lot of words about the hospital closing. Maybe, maybe something can be done to stop it. Maybe, maybe Ulster will finally get included in the Metropolitan Statistical Area and get more Medicare money, but these days, “get more money” are words greeted generally with suspicion and hostility. It would, this long-sought inclusion, be a nice final good deed with which to send off Maurice Hinchey and/or a reaffirmation that Kingston is in the part of the state which thrives off the warmth of New York City and not in that part left to more or less fend for itself. Hello? First capital of the state here! Throw us a bone, why don’t you.
In a larger sense, the closure underscores how we still really haven’t dealt with health care in this country in a fundamental sense and if the Supreme Court tosses Obamacare, we’ll be back to square zero on that, with the biggest population cohort ever hurtling into senior-citizen-hood. Also very discouraging.
So, Struggle City, where do we go from here? Where, exactly, have all the good times gone?