Madison County Opinion...

 July 19, 2000

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
July 19, 2000

Frankly Speaking

Hospitals should provide better parking for patients
Have you ever found yourself looking around at some situation and thinking, "This is not right?"
That was my reaction when I carried my step-mother to a local hospital for a blood test. I drove into the parking lot for the emergency and outpatient clinic and started looking for a parking space. There were a few open spaces, but each had a sign saying "physicians only" or "security only." I dropped my passenger off at the door and finally found a parking space in a lot a quarter of a mile away.
After she completed her test, I had to leave her standing at the door while I walked back to the lot, retrieved my car and picked her up.
What am I to think about this problem? Apparently, the hospital, and the doctors, are of the opinion that their convenience is of far greater importance than the needs of the patients.
Doctors are important. They provide a valuable service that cannot be obtained elsewhere. For their efforts, they are well rewarded. A news item ran this week about a doctor who, after only a few years of practice, rewarded her mother for paying her way through school with a new mansion. I noticed that most of the cars in those physician-only lots were in the $30,000 to $50,000 price range.
The hospital employees and patients that I saw walking from the distant parking lot to the hospital were not driving expensive cars. Most, like myself, were in moderately priced older vehicles.
Doctors have enough resources to provide a shuttle service for themselves if they are too tired or rushed to walk from the remote parking spaces. Or, if it is essential that they park next to the entrance, the hospital should provide a shuttle for patients and staff.
It is obvious to me that those people who are in need of medical service are in need of nearby parking. If you are ill, injured or elderly, it is absurd to have to walk from a distant parking lot to the emergency room. A true concern for their patients would compel the doctors to move their parking spaces to the remote lots and allow patients to park near the building.
I have long believed that many doctors, and other professionals, are more concerned with their own wealth, comfort and convenience than the needs of their clients. The parking arrangements of that Athens hospital clearly support my belief.
Senator Paul Coverdell was everything a Southern gentleman should be. He was a quiet, gentle man who earned his reputation with hard work. He never raised his voice in anger. He never resorted to name calling when confronted by opponents. He did his best to represent the people and state of Georgia in the manner expected from a U.S. Senator.
While he made sure he was fully informed about the issues, he was patient with those who were not as well informed. In my contacts with him as a member of the media, I always found him willing and able to explain the details of any issue I brought up.
Georgia, the nation and the world lost a great leader when Sen. Coverdell died Tuesday. His was the kind of leadership that gave hope to those of us who so often fear for our nation's future. He will be missed.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at


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By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
July 19, 2000

What teenagers need
This column has been on my mind for some time now. As the parent of two teenagers, it is doubly difficult to write. I don't want to preach, don't want to sound superior, self-righteous, or any of those things. I know no secrets, possess no special wisdom, but I do have some deep convictions and some very strong opinions about rearing children in this most difficult and often dangerous society.
It has been my observation that most teenagers drink - not many, but most. Why do they drink? Sometimes for fun, to fit in, or just because they can get their hands on it. It is said that alcohol is the teenager's drug of choice today - much more so than pot, cocaine or any of the other illicit substances combined. That's no news flash. Take a look at the arrest report in this newspaper most any week.
It has also been my observation that most parents seem to know, on some level at least, that their teens drink.
I hear comments from parents all the time like, "If they're going to drink, they're going to drink." "If they're going to party, they'll party." "I don't want to make (my child) mad at me." Or "I want to be my child's friend." And then there's the infamous, "If they drink, I just tell them not to drive and hope for the best." That one makes my blood run cold. Why is alcohol viewed differently from most other drugs our children abuse? Is it because it's a legal substance? Alcohol kills more people every day than all these other substances combined.
If you want to know if they drink, ask them. Yes, they may lie to you, but they will know you care. Then again, they may tell you the truth, if they feel you really want to know.
Why can't we set high standards for our children? If we say things to them like, "I know you're probably going to drink," isn't that setting them up for failure? If we as parents don't have high expectations of our kids, how can they have high expectations of themselves?
I expect my teenagers not to drink, not to do drugs and I expect them not to have sex. I tell them so in no uncertain terms. I ask them to expect that of themselves - to remember who they are - a unique and special people here for a reason.
If they drink, if they do drugs, if they have sex, they will do it without my blessing and without my implied approval.
But they also know their parents love them because that is something Charles and I tell them too. We don't imply it, we don't just assume they know it - we tell them. They need to hear it now as much as they did when they were little. I have found that when they seem the most distant, the most hostile or have the most "attitude" is when they most need to hear "I love you." That may also be the time I most want to pinch their heads off too, but I still need to tell them I love them. And I need to listen to what they have to say.
I want to be my child's friend, but when it comes down to a choice between friend or parent, they need a parent first and foremost and sometimes they need to be told "no" even if it makes them mad.
My kids are no different from anyone else's. I have the utmost confidence in them, but I also know that they are human and that they will make mistakes.
And when they make those mistakes, they need to know they can come to their parents. How can they know this? We have to tell them and we have to show them every day and in every way.
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.
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