Is there ever ‘enough’ when it comes to health care?

Don't prevent Mass General Brigham's expansion to Westborough

PERHAPS IT GOES without saying, but it’s a good thing, not a bad thing, when the best medical care in the world wants to move closer to its patients.

Thirteen years ago, I was undergoing chiropractic care.  After one of the sessions, I got out of my car and suddenly found I couldn’t stand on my right leg – and then my right arm went numb. My daughter drove me to our local hospital, where my condition continued to worsen. An MRI revealed a dissected carotid artery, which led to a stroke. I was transferred to their ICU and the medical team, unfamiliar with my diagnosis, recommended an invasive surgical procedure.

My husband, Steven, and I didn’t feel comfortable with that plan. He searched for a new team and found Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston with their world-class neurosurgery team. The Brigham and Women’s doctors guided my care plan remotely, as they were very familiar with my injury, and advised against any procedures unless my condition significantly worsened. If not for the care of Brigham and Women’s my only option would have been experimental surgery—despite my reservations.

They saved my life.

Today, I am doing well, despite still dealing with some residual effects. Unfortunately, one of the side effects is I am no longer able to drive. I receive all my care at Brigham and Women’s in Boston even though it often takes a full day for something simple like a physical therapy appointment. If Mass General Brigham, the corporate parent of Brigham and Women’s had a facility in Westborough when I suffered my stroke, I could have received world class care there from the outset. If Mass General Brigham had a facility in Westborough today, then I could receive care closer to my home rather than traveling to Boston. The good news is that Mass General Brigham has proposed an ambulatory center in Westborough to provide care to the 42,000 existing patients in the area like me.

Their care— the expertise, personal contact, and overall excellence—is the reason why I will never relocate out of New England. It is not only the best place for me – but also for my family. In 2019, my sister, who has Down Syndrome, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage. She was brought to a local ER, where officials informed me she needed a medical flight to an acute care facility and asked if I had a preference. I insisted she be transferred to Brigham and Women’s. She is now an outpatient in the hospital’s neurology clinic. She resides in Westborough and, like me, experiences great difficulty in getting to her appointments in Boston.

We are very fortunate to have a world-class hospital of great minds with such a personal touch in Boston, but we can have that same world-class care in Westborough. Another medical facility shouldn’t dictate whether my family and I can receive the care I want closer to my home rather than travel hours to get it.

Meet the Author
Right now, the state is reviewing Mass General Brigham’s proposal to serve its patients in Westborough. For me it’s simple: it makes no sense to take a choice of location away from us because some elected leaders are concerned Mass General Brigham “has enough.”  Is there ever “enough” when it comes to health care choices?  Given all that we read about how crowded hospitals are right now, we know we need more care—and more accessible care—not less. As my family has shown, for some of us, it is literally a matter of life and death.

Sharon Judd is a resident of Marlborough.