Planning for the future

Randy Riley - Contributing Columnist

Staying focused is important.

That doesn’t only mean the ability to see clearly, although that’s important. It also implies looking at the big picture — visualizing beyond the needs of today and tomorrow. The further you try to look into the future, the fuzzier and blurrier the picture becomes. It’s frustrating, but vital for us to look forward.

For several years, I worked at Memorial Hospital of Union County in Marysville. At the time, it was a nice, small county hospital. It’s grown a lot in the past 40 years.

When I was there, the main part of the hospital which housed the intensive care unit, maternity ward, emergency room, surgery and surgical patient rooms was on the north end of the facility. The Morey Center was the medical unit and long-term care center. It was located at the south end of the facility.

The single, long hallway that connected these two parts of the hospital was easily the length of a football field.

At the time, I worked as the assistant director of respiratory therapy and cardiac diagnostics. The director, Larry, covered day shift and I covered the evening shift and was on-call every night after I went home. The hallway lights were kept low after 9 p.m. and all throughout the night.

To get all the treatments done, respond to the patients in the ER, check on all oxygen delivery systems and keep the ventilator patients well-ventilated, I walked up and down that straight, long hallway many, many times a night. I once thought about bringing in a bike to make it easier, but Larry said, “No.”

Whenever someone else was coming toward me in the hallway, I would squint to see who it was. They would wave. I would wave. But, I would have no idea who it was until they were within about 50 feet of me. I found myself squinting all the time. Reading charts and graphs was becoming a real chore.

For the first time in my life, I made an appointment with an optometrist. A few weeks later I received a call that my new glasses were in. I wasn’t looking forward to wearing glasses, but I was looking forward to seeing without squinting.

I tried on the glasses and immediately told the optometrist, “Something just isn’t right here. I can’t see anything out of my right eye.” He told me it would take some getting used to. Right.

Within a few days, the optometrist called me and apologized. They had made a mistake and given me the wrong glasses. Mine would have to be reordered.

A few weeks later I went back to the optometrist for my second pair of glasses. I looked in the mirror at those wide, plastic rims and immediately thought, “Oh, Lord. Buddy Holly … back from the dead.”

Then I went outside.

For the first time in my adult life, I could see clearly. I could actually see wires going from telephone pole to telephone pole. I could see clearly at any distance. Surprise – people aren’t naturally fuzzy-looking when they are 100 yards away. Without squinting, I could tell who was waving at me from the nursing desk of the Morey Center building. It was a miracle. I didn’t care if I did look like Buddy Holly.

Not only is it important to have good vision in the medical and optical sense, but it’s important to have good vision when looking toward the future — trying to decide the right path to take to achieve a future that benefits the citizens of the community.

That’s one of the greatest challenges that faces all community leaders and elected officials.

Doing nothing is rarely an option. The community changes. The economy changes. Business development is constantly evolving.

Doing nothing allows the community to change around you. That change; unhampered, unimpeded and uncontrolled can result in devastating results to the community and to the families that call the community… home.

When citizens are asked to participate in shaping the future, they should jump at the opportunity. Whether it is considering whether or not to add fluoride to the water, or what direction zoning and community planning should take, it is important that citizens become involved.

The more eyes that are looking forward, the better our vision of the future will become.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.

Randy Riley

Contributing Columnist