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Inside Out

Driving our doctors away

Jeanne Sager
Posted 7/13/21

If you’re a woman in Sullivan County, chances are pretty fair that you’ve opened up a letter in your mailbox in recent weeks to the news that Crystal Run is closing its Liberty offices …

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Inside Out

Driving our doctors away

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If you’re a woman in Sullivan County, chances are pretty fair that you’ve opened up a letter in your mailbox in recent weeks to the news that Crystal Run is closing its Liberty offices and moving its specialists to Rock Hill.

If you didn’t even know Crystal Run had a Liberty office, you’re likely not a woman in Sullivan County.

We all know.

For decades, local women have trekked to Liberty for obstetric and gynecology services because it’s long been the primary game in town, with a collection of OB/GYNs, midwives, and nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants to help women through just about everything that comes with being female.

The office is popular in part because options are limited in Sullivan County. Take a look at Garnet’s website, and they list just one OB/GYN practicing within Sullivan County. To make an appointment with others means traveling to Orange County.

Most other options — including OB/GYNs at Sun River Health — likewise mean a trip to Monticello.

What’s the difference? That’s just a 15 minute drive, right?

Sure. It’s an extra 15 minutes ... each way ... tacking a full 30 minutes on to a woman’s trip to see the doctor. Say that woman lives in Long Eddy. To get to Liberty, she was already traveling as much as 50 minutes to begin with to get to the doctor’s office — one way.

To change doctors would mean she has an extra half an hour that she’s going to have to spend in the car and away from work. To stick with her doctors at Crystal Run, following them to Rock Hill, means closer to 50 additional minutes (25 each way).

Now consider the nature of OB/GYN visits.

Most medical specialists are limited in terms of who needs to see them. You only go if something is wrong.

Not OB/GYNs. In fact, it’s recommended by just about every medical association out there that older teens and women see their OB/GYN at least once a year for preventative care.

Every. Single. Year.

If you happen to get pregnant, suddenly that once a year visit jumps to once a month — and in the latter months of your pregnancy becomes weekly.

Fifty extra minutes of driving every week. Fifty extra minutes away from work every week.

I don’t know why the move is being made, and I don’t care to speculate — that’s what happens on Facebook, not in a newspaper. What I do know is that the more medical options are moved deeper into the eastern side of Sullivan County, the more folks on the western side of Sullivan County feel the pain of those moves.

The more services sent to Middletown, the harder it gets for western Sullivan County residents, for those who work on the western side of the county and those who employ them too.

OB/GYNs rarely offer night or weekend appointments for that annual visit or those weekly trips for pregnant women, which means there’s always time taken out of the work day — an increasing amount of time when an employee is spending it on the road heading to destinations that are further afield.

What’s more, with our populations growing as more families escape cities for our rural beauty, the needs are growing too. There are more women who need OB/GYN services. There are more kids who need pediatricians and men who need, well, healthcare.

And it looks like we are all going to be doing a lot more driving.

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