It’s been a year since the coalition of pediatricians formed to rally community support for a true Children’s Hospital. We believed we could urge the collaborators of our three hospital systems (VCU-MCV, BonSecours and HCA) to take philanthropic seed money and build this Children’s Hospital for our patients. Nothing has changed much in a year. Some things have happened…all behind closed doors, but nothing appears different. We don’t have an announcement that Richmond will finally have a full service, free-standing Children’s Hospital.
I don’t have a box big enough to hold my disappointment after walking in support of these collaborators and learning that they cannot find a way to all work together.
I spent a day of my life circling the Jefferson Hotel with a sizable group of mothers and our children while inside, this group of collaborators was meeting to imagine a full service, free standing Children’s Hospital here in Richmond. Part of me says I should list all the details, but they are parsed out so sparingly; and perhaps this is as it should be. There seems to be real commitment to hiding what is real. Between the billboards and the advertising, Richmonders think we have a true Children’s Hospital anyway. If only mothers truly understood: our children do without a beautiful, full service hospital dedicated just to the children.
And every other city our size has already built one for their children.
I’ve written and re-written this piece because I can’t make it sound anything other than whiney. Kids whine. It seems to me that grown-ups shouldn’t. It also seems to me that grown-ups should be as forthcoming and truthful as they can. They shouldn’t hide behind closed doors and misleading billboards. They should tell the truth. But… “I am “they.”
I am among the doctors and hospital executives and community leaders who are working to build a true Children’s Hospital. I am among the WE who are trying SO hard to find a way to take a generous philanthropic donation and build our community’s children their own hospital. But I’m also willing to say that a year has gone by, and we are still looking at the study data that says this should work. We need a miracle. A WHOLE year has gone by, and there is something to show for our efforts, but it’s precious little. We are not telling the whole truth if we pretend that we have made great accomplishments in the year.
A year is a long time when you are a child. So many people have worked extremely hard, but that diligence stands alone. It should stand alongside the leadership of our three hospital systems, each holding a ground-breaking shovel.
The little boy I mentioned above is four, and he stopped growing about a year ago. He goes to Washington, DC to see his specialist. For two hours of what I’m sure was a very long day for him, this little guy walked around the Jefferson Hotel with me. It turned out to be the same amount of time it takes the family to drive to his doctor’s appointments.
He’s only four. He shouldn’t have to wait another year wondering if someday his city will have what every other city has. It’s time to tell the community about what we’ve come up with, and see if his parents…or any other of the creative minds of our community can add to our ideas with a workable solution. There is one out there somewhere, and there are people who will actively work to bring a true Children’s Hospital, a full service, free-standing hospital into being. If other city’s can do it, surely we can, too.