One of the pleasures of being a State Senator is participating in ground breakings and ribbon cuttings. These events reflect the growth and expansion of businesses or institutions through projects that help drive our local economy.
They are even more significant when the institution is a hospital that serves our area every day of the year. That was the case with the ribbon cutting last week at Valley Regional Hospital.
The hospital has just completed a $22.5 million construction and renovation project. All inpatient and outpatient rooms are now private providing confidentiality for patients, less risk of exposure to infections and a more appropriate place for family visits with patients. The emergency department has been expanded. And the same day surgery and rehabilitation areas have been totally renovated.
Driven indoors by the downpour of rain, staff and hospital leaders along with guests had an opportunity to enjoy the ribbon cutting ceremony in the new lobby. It is a welcoming space for patients and families coming into the hospital.
What has been accomplished at Valley Regional Hospital with this project is substantial. It certainly makes a statement about the permanence of the institution that has been serving the region for over 100 years. Congratulations to the hospital leadership, staff and the community that stood by the hospital and supported this effort.
After the ribbon cutting at Valley Regional Hospital, I headed over to an event for New London Hospital where donors to the hospitalís annual fund were being recognized.
It is rare that I would be at two hospital events on the same day.
But both events were reminders of the special role our local hospitals play in our communities. Both of them are designated as critical access hospitals which makes them part of a national system of rural hospitals. In New Hampshire there are 26 hospitals of which 13 are critical access hospitals.
To be a critical access hospital each hospital must be either 35 miles from another hospital or 15 miles if there are only secondary roads connecting them, may have a maximum of 25 beds and must provide 24-hour emergency services on-site or on call.
Critical access hospitals receive cost-based reimbursement from Medicare which is intended to help their financial situation and reduce hospital closures in rural America.
Our own critical access hospitals, Valley Regional and New London, demonstrate how extraordinarily important they are to all of us whom they serve.
Past ground breakings and ribbon cuttings were on my mind last week, too, as the City of Claremont was awarded an Excellence in Economic Development Award for municipalities of fewer than 25,000 residents for the Monadnock Mills Revitalization project.
Wherever I go in the state, I am asked about what is going on in Claremont. Often, the question is more specific with references to the Common Man restaurant. It always gives me a chance to talk about the city and point to the success of the "mill project." Now I can add the new award that has come to the city from the International Economic Development Council.
Legislators receive plenty of information through the mail and email from a wide range of organizations. Each month, for example, I receive a foreclosure update from the New Hampshire Housing agency detailing prior month foreclosure activity and overall trends.
The report for August shows what a stubborn recession we have been in. To quote the report, "Once again, the numbers of both foreclosure deeds and notices are up for the month of August Ö New Hampshire appears poised for another record year for foreclosures."
The report continues: "There were 408 foreclosures recorded in August, a record high for the month. This represents an increase of 42 percent over foreclosure deeds recorded in August, 2009 and is the eighth month in a row with an increase over the same month the prior year."
Reading the report I was reminded of a well known New Hampshire economist who specializes in real estate telling the Senate Ways and Means Committee a couple of years ago that there was no "housing bubble" and no problem in New Hampshire with subprime lending. There was something wrong, of course, but the experts simply were missing it.
Meanwhile, Bank of America last week joined two other big mortgage lenders, GMAC Mortgage and J.P. Morgan Chase in stopping some foreclosure actions in some states because they have found that the paperwork backing up the mortgages is "flawed." These huge institutions, one would hope, could find more options for some of their customers that would slow the pace of foreclosures that so heavily impact the real estate market and our overall economy.
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