Live Local

I live in the country, just on the edge of small incorporated town between Richmond and Virginia Beach. We love living here but have had to learn to do without suburban luxuries like dry cleaners, public transportation and a decent grocery store. What we do have is local health care.

There is a medical center in our town, just a few minutes from my house, and the nurse practitioner can do almost anything the doctor might do. I went in to see what we might do about my bad hip and immediately got the referral I needed. They even skipped x-rays to save some money as they knew the orthopedist was going to want his own.

I, of course, ended up in the big city for the orthopedist but it turns out the physical therapist is just in the next little town over from me. What a lovely surprise!

At my first session this week, I  joined a group of local folks in the workout room who were obviously enjoying the fellowship along with the exercise. They welcomed me right into the group. I recognized one lady from the library, and we chatted while we did our stretches and steps. When I woke up the next day, I realized it as all part of their evil plan: chat, laugh and forget that you are moving muscles that haven’t been moved for awhile!

Having supportive , local community as part of my care seems important. Yet, this same county closed their three local elementary schools some years ago in favor of a centralized campus. I understand the practical reasons, and the students did gain in the deal. As with many rural areas, enrollments are dropping so there is less funding even as the aging buildings need major repairs and updates for technology. One elementary school on a central campus with the rest of the schools helps reduce busing costs.  And, the students are able to learn in a new building with updated architecture, functioning technology and strong infrastructure. It is modern and welcoming.

What do you lose? Community. That small town feeling. Parents could chat with teachers as they picked up kids to walk them home or stop by to help with a classroom activity because it was in the neighborhood or regularly attend parent/teacher conferences. Because we are a low-income area, many town citizens do not have ready access to a car so getting to the events at the elementary school is not so easy now.

Think global, act local is one mantra. I would like to change it to LIVE local. Yes, Walmart has better prices, but it is nice to have a local pharmacy like the one where I bought a birthday card and a candy bar after PT today. Yes, I can get books from anywhere any time, but I don’t get to catch up on the town news like I do when I go to the library. And, yes, a central campus consolidates services but just what do we lose?


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