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Fairview Hospital. Photo courtesy Berkshire Health Systems

Alan Chartock: I Publius

By Saturday, Sep 7, 2019 Viewpoints

In case you’re wondering what I’m doing here, this is my new Saturday home. I’m back with my old pal, editor David Scribner, who first hired me so many years ago at the Berkshire Eagle. Together we came up with the name of my column, I Publius. I look forward to meeting you on The Edge every Saturday.

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Every once in a while, you make a discovery that changes your life, and this week I’ll tell you about a recent find that has done just that. For those of you who care, you may remember that about three months ago, I suffered a concussion. I was pretty messed up and Roselle had me ambulanced to our wonderful Fairview Hospital, which shipped me up to Berkshire Medical Center, where I spent an uncomfortable night. I complained of dizziness and was told that I would get over it with time. Well, that didn’t happen. I was growing more and more frustrated. One morning on my 2-mile walk, I met a nice lady who told me that I ought to go to physical therapy. I called the Great Barrington Fairview outpatient rehab and they told me that they had not one but two vertigo specialists. I signed up and then showed up.

I was assigned to one James Frederick, who has a doctorate in physical therapy and who turns out to be a genuine healer. After having walked around for three months feeling quite dizzy, in one session, he made quite a difference. The vertigo is not completely gone, but I have to tell you that the improvement is incredible, just incredible.

It is not for no reason that the operation is booked solid. You can get in, but you’ll have to wait your turn. The place is run as professionally as can be. The receptionists are pleasant and everything is written down to avoid the usual confusion. James gave me specific exercises, which were all committed to paper. I have followed them assiduously.

This brings me to an area of real concern for me. Let’s face it: Like everything else, healing is divided up into what only might be called “prestige rungs.” If you’re an MD or OD, you get the big bucks. However, in my case, it was the physical therapist who turned out to be the real healer. He knew exactly what to do and the results were immediate. Obviously, we pay for the degree and not for the results. We all know that hospital nurses are quite frequently the main caregivers, but trust me, their compensation is nowhere near what it ought to be.

Here’s how it works in Great Barrington: Fairview is a subsidiary of Berkshire Medical Center. Instead of treating us locally, we get sent up to a very different kind of hospital, where the specialists are. Many people give a great deal of their money to Fairview and as I have pointed out in the past, have an expectation of top care. In some instances, as in the case of Dr. George Veinoglou, we get the very best. It seems to me that South County is a perfect place to live and practice medicine. Pittsfield is more challenging, as it really is a big-city hospital with all that appellation means.

I can testify to the fact that we do have a first-rate ambulance service. There are, of course, some people who believe, maybe correctly, that New York City hospital complexes like NYU and Columbia Presbyterian are the only places to go when you are hurting. We recently lost a close relative and while we had great confidence in his medical care, we were told that we had to get him to NYU. It turned out that his doctors in Brooklyn were excellent and on the mark as to his prognosis.

We are so lucky to have Fairview and its wonderful emergency room, but we will have to figure out how to do more for our local hospital.

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