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Tourist recounts bad experience with local healthcare

Dear Editor:
A word of caution for out-of-state visitors or tourists: don’t get sick in Mountain City. I had a medical issue recently at 4:00 AM. My brother and I both made several phone calls to the hospital to make sure the ER was open. No one would answer the phone so my brother drove me to the ER a short distance away around 5:30 AM. After going to the ER side and to the front and back to the ER side, we were unable to get in or have anyone even notice us being out there. I was told when I returned later in the morning that there is a buzzer you have to get out and push. What if someone drove himself in there and was unable to get to the buzzer? He could sit there and die right in front of the emergency room.
I wanted to visit with my brother for another month but will not be able to do that now. I spent an entire day trying to get an appointment with a local physician with no success. A group of four doctors that have a large yellow page ad saying walk-ins welcome told me they do not take walk-ins and would need all my medical records before seeing me. Others would not take new patients or accept my insurance with a major company. Another said I could get in, but they would not prescribe the medications I need. So I am forced to return to Florida to get the medical care I need. I was considering buying a summer home here but won’t do that now. It is fortunate my condition that night wasn’t more serious, or else I might not be writing this letter. 

Ronnie R. Howard
Punta Gorda, FL