To the Editor:
Your article “County health rankings yield mixed results” in the July 14 issue was well-researched, well-written and informative as one expects from your newspaper; still it left me uneasy.
Statistics tell a whole lot, but they leave much out. I don’t know if it was really Mark Twain who said it, but it’s good: “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.” So if statistics tell us that “99 percent of the members of the Nazi party like to eat carrots,” then are we to conclude that eating carrots makes one a Nazi?
I’m sure the good people of the University of Wisconsin were very thorough and thoughtful and used the latest research and the best statistical methods to perform their study, but they couldn’t have measured the intangibles, like what it means to go to a Swain County physician who has chosen to settle in Swain County, to educate his or her children there, to attend church and serve on local boards there, to coach the kid’s soccer team, or to give free physical exams to the high school athletes. They are devoted to improving the lives of the people of Swain County, dedicated to their patients, maybe settling for fewer exciting cutting-edge medical technologies available in Asheville or Durham, but outstanding practitioners of their art.
I could say the same thing for the nurses and other supporting staff of Swain County Hospital, Swain Medical Center and the Swain County Health Department. As for the Swain County Health Department, Linda White may be the most dedicated director in the state, and, as your article noted, one of the lowest paid.
Why do these good people work in Swain County? Because they want to make it a healthy place to live, because they love it. I speak as one who worked as a physician at Swain Medical Center and Swain County Hospital from 1998 to 2007 and was the physician representative on the Swain County Health Department Board of Directors. The people of Swain County can be certain that the health care provided in Swain County is truly excellent.
Steve Crider, MD