I am what some folks here would call an “outsider;” one from California at that. But before I go on, I must tell you that I am really a Missouri girl, having been born in Kirksville in a hospital that is long gone, to a mother that was born and raised in Granger and Memphis, as were her parents before her and their parents as well.  So, when my mother began showing more severe signs of Alzheimer’s and I could no longer take care of her, I brought her from her California home, back to Memphis, to visit her closest relatives before she might no longer know them.  Unfortunately, it was already too late, and I decided it would be best to admit her to the Scotland County Care Center.

I figured she’d be comfortable with that, as she had put her father in the Residence Care Facility there when she could no longer take care of him.  For the past four years, I’ve made regular trips for long periods to come and stay with her; I  even purchased a home in town so that I could eventually retire here full time.

While growing up as a military brat, no matter where we were stationed, we spent our best summer vacations with my cousins on their farm outside Memphis, where I learned to swim, ride a horse, churn butter and snap beans.  I’m an old lady now, with two, 20-year careers under my belt, and have travelled to every state (except Alaska) and every major city in this beautiful country.

I must tell you that I find the residents here in this area, young and old alike, to be some of the kindest most community minded folks anywhere.  They look out for each other in all that they do and truly care that it stays a safe and comfortable place to live, despite the strife and turmoil occurring in much of America.

I feel compelled to share with you my most recent experience in Memphis.  My mother became severely dehydrated and had developed a terrible infection. I asked the Care Center to send her to ER at the Scotland County Hospital for assessment and treatment.  She was admitted as a patient that evening where they began intense treatment for both issues.

I was finally able to get here two days later and then spent the next three days and nights with her in her hospital room. It was comforting to watch her nurses care for her with the utmost patience, kindness and professionalism, in spite of her screaming every time anyone tenderly touched her. They allowed me to help comfort her where possible and to feed her every meal, which were both important to me.

I was able to meet with the doctors on their rounds to discuss her care and prognosis. They took the time to answer all of my questions in a no-nonsense manner and in language that I can understand.  I’ve had experiences with several top hospitals and their staffs in addition to a few mediocre hospitals in Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and those on military bases in several states.  My son had finger and ankle surgeries at Stanford University Hospital, hip surgery at Vanderbilt in Nashville and elbow surgery at one of the top orthopedic groups in Los Angeles.  I spent four days and nights with him in the Pediatric Trauma Center at UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento after a near fatal car crash and a full night of surgery resulting in 350 stitches in his head, shoulder and arm. I was with my boss when she had successful brain surgery and also saw a young friend who passed away from Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, both at Stanford. I was with my best friend treated for cancer at UC San Francisco Medical Center.  And most recently I spent every day with another friend as she passed away at a brand-new state of the art cancer center in my home town in California.  No question, these are all top teaching hospitals with great well-trained doctors and nurses.

For those of you born and raised in this “Show Me” state, I hope I’ve given you sufficient history and reason to take the best advice I have to give.  I can honestly tell you that save for severe accident trauma or some surgeries for which they may not have a specialist, you have excellent knowledgeable doctors available, right here in your town, at Scotland County Hospital.  At least two of the doctors that I know of were born and raised right here in this area and have returned because they care about this community. The patient rooms are well equipped, spotlessly clean and as comfortable as any I’ve ever been in.  The nurses are very attentive and caring and they have up-to-date equipment and technology to track your care during your stay.  Your health and comfort are their number one concern and they want your stay to be the best it can possibly be.  If you ever need treatment or surgery or end of life care, it might be tempting to look for a bigger hospital over an hour or more away; after all, it is human to think that bigger is better.   But take it from this well-travelled “Missouri girl,” if it is something that can be done here locally, I strongly encourage you to consider having it done here.  I’m very happy to know that once I live here full time, if I need something this hospital can provide, that I’ll receive excellent top-notch care only a quarter mile from my home.

I look forward to living here, where people more often die of old age instead of drive-by shootings, home invasions, drug overdose, hit and run, or a beating from one of five major gangs; where first run movies are $3 instead of $15; subscription to the local newspaper is only $34.08 per year instead of $658, and gas is $2.55 a gallon instead of $3.55 and most importantly, where the people work hard at keeping it this way.  But perhaps that should all be commentary for another letter.

Sandra Mooneyham