Who cares? or A Parent's Perspective on Valley Healthcare
December 4, 2019
I’ve often been asked, as this debate over medical access in the Valley has played out, who I am in support of providing that care. People have asked me whether I support the Platte Valley Healthcare Project and their pursuit of a critical access hospital or if I support Memorial Hospital of Carbon County and their intention of placing a clinic in Saratoga. My response has often been the same; I don’t care who does it, as long as we have comprehensive healthcare.
Over the holiday weekend, when I gave myself a chance to rest, I ended up getting sick. This was innocuous enough. All I needed was to drink plenty of fluids, take some medicine and get some rest. It wasn’t just me that got sick, however. Jareth, my 5-year-old son, got sick as well.
This little ball of energy, who is more talkative than a squirrel and can go 100 percent from sun-up to sundown, came to a grinding halt. His breathing became labored and he had a very croupy cough. On Saturday, in fact, he and I spent the day in bed together and did as little moving as possible.
From time to time, I’d ask him how he was feeling. Trying not to speak, he would give me a “thumbs down” or stick out his thumb horizontally. Making sure he drank plenty of water and giving him alternating doses of Tylenol and Advil, both Telitha and I thought that we would make it out of the weekend without him getting too terribly sick.
We were wrong.
In the middle of the night, Jareth bolted from his room into the bathroom. He was upset, trying to catch his breath and scared. We calmed him down as best we could and decided he would lay down with us. We weren’t out of the woods, yet.
While we were alternating the fever reducing medications, he was still burning up. He wasn’t sleeping well and his coughing sounded like it was getting worse. There Telitha and I were, at 3 a.m., checking road conditions and asking each other if it was worth getting on the road to travel to either Laramie or Rawlins or to call dispatch and even try and make it to Saratoga with the hope that someone would be able to see us.
The Laramie side of Wyoming Highway 230 showed “no unnecessary travel” and the Interstate was still closed. We discussed when the best time to try and hit the road would be, whether we should wait for the fever to break and what to do if it got worse.
I slept fitfully, still fighting whatever cold I had come down with. Telitha didn’t sleep at all. Jareth was like a furnace and he would wake himself up coughing a few more times. Eventually, however, the fever would break and our sick five year old would get some rest.
As a parent, you want to be able to do anything to make your child feel better. We have had moments in the past where we braved snow covered roads to Laramie or called Dean Bartholomew to see him come tearing into the clinic parking lot in the middle of the night. We’ve been lucky so far in that Jareth has only been sick a handful of times, most of which has happened since he started going to school.
You won’t get any disagreement from me that we need improved healthcare in the Valley. Nor will I disagree that we need access to 24-hour care, especially when your young child is giving off more heat than a pellet stove. This debate on who should provide healthcare to the Valley is, without a doubt, contentious and emotionally charged. My emotions will certainly play into my decision. I’d be lying if I said that they wouldn’t.
At the end of the day, however, I don’t really care who is providing the care.
What I care about is that I can wake up in the middle of the night with the knowledge that there is a place that I can take my sick kid. What I care about is not having to drive two hours, or more, in the middle of winter just to get medical care. What I care about is that I will have a place that can provide my family the healthcare I think deserve.
Then in closing, I will add that we were able to get into the clinic on Monday. Telitha and I were doubtful because it seems nearly everyone gets sick following the holidays. Not only were we able to be seen, but Ruby Ayers was absolutely amazing with Jareth.