UPMC merger win-win for hospital, area

I have been reading, with interest, all the debate about the merger with UPMC and Altoona Regional.

I will qualify my position on this merger and discuss why I think it is a win-win for Blair County.

First, I understand the concerns the nurses have with the merger. I have experienced down-sizing, right-sizing, and unemployment. I have a B.S. in accounting and a MBA. I have been deployed twice to Iraq and have 19 years of military service.

I truly appreciate all we have in the U.S., Pennsylvania and Altoona. I have left this city many times only to find myself returning because I love everything this city offers.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and GAT have forced me into situations where I was not comfortable.

I have worked in manufacturing and most of the jobs were transferred to Mexico and India. Change is difficult because it forces us into an area that is not safe and comfortable.

My mother worked at the Altoona Hospital for 20-plus years. Her income provided for our family and allowed us to live a safe and comfortable life.

I have first-hand experience with UPMC Children’s Hospital and Shadyside. Folks, I am excited about this merger. If we receive half of the services they provide in Pittsburgh, we are better off.

My son, Jack, was born with a rare brain syndrome. We have been to Children’s Hospital over the last seven months on a repeated basis.

If all hospitals were organized and managed like it is, this would not be an issue.

I have the utmost respect for the services provided by the nurses and doctors of Altoona Regional. They have provided first class care to my son.

On our darkest day, we sat on a bench in front of Children’s Hospital while our son was having an MRI on his brain. We were preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Sure enough, the neurologist told us our son had a smooth brain in certain areas that was causing his seizures.

Further testing concluded that he was born with a partial deletion on chromosome No. 17. My wife and I were devastated by this news.

My son’s doctor laid out a plan to treat his seizures. Everyone there, from the doctors, nurses, support staff and cafeteria workers, were top notch. I have only admiration and respect for everyone at Children’s Hospital.

My mother had a cornea transplant at UPMC Shadyside. Again, we received world class service.

I sympathize with the employees of the Altoona Regional. Some may lose their position and some will not.

If you are good at what you do, you will survive.

This merger is a win-win for Blair County. We have to get beyond this issue. UPMC offers an affordable option for health care and progressive treatments.

James A. Grassmyer, Altoona