True story

To the Editor:

Once upon a time, on a mountain not too far from here, there was a town whose people needed some advice on their health. One day a young man in a white coat and funny shoes came to town and offered to advise them in exchange for beans.

The town agreed and for many years this arrangement continued, though over time most of the people arranged for their beans to come from companies who doled out beans as a business. Not all the people had the same company and each company had its own rules about how many beans it would offer and under what circumstances it would part with them.

But the man, who wasn’t as young anymore, but still wore funny shoes, employed an excellent beancounter who knew all the tricks of the trade and managed to get 97 percent of the beans they were entitled to.

The years passed and most people seemed pleased with the arrangements. The man prospered and over time another man, who also wore funny shoes, and a lady from just down the street came to work with him.

The companies who doled beans continued to make new rules and require more and more steps before they doled them, but the beancounter stayed one step ahead of them so that she collected enough beans that extra beans could be given to all the employees of the man twice a year.

Over time, the man got older and wondered who would advise the town in the future. He went to the hospital in a nearby city where they handed out white coats to see if he could find a young person to replace him in the town.

The young people all wanted to give advice, but none wanted to count their own beans, so the man arranged for a company, who said it knew all the tricks of the trade also, to come and count the beans. Very quickly the man then found a young lady, who came from a distant mountain, and seemed to have a knack for speaking with mountain people about their health. She also wore funny shoes, but only occasionally.

The bean-counting company brought all sorts of new rules and government regulations, and sent many vassals to the mountain to make sure they were complied with. The company was headed by an evil queen who was never happy with the number of beans coming in and reported frequently that not only were there no longer any extra beans, but also there were not enough beans to cover the costs of advising the town.

Of course the beans were no longer counted on the mountain but taken to a central bean-counting office in the flatlands where they were mixed with beans from an ever-increasing number of other sources.

The young lady was not discouraged and set about to find new ways to help advise the town, including getting grants to help the town’s elderly and homebound get advice. She applied for other help from the government but the vassals at the company didn’t do their part so they missed that huge opportunity.

Over time it became quite clear that the company was more interested in beans than advice and the young lady found a kingdom to the north where they seemed to still value advice over beans. She gave six months’ notice to the evil queen because she wanted to give them plenty of time to find a new advisor for the mountain.

The evil queen was busy acquiring a new kingdom and repeatedly rebuffed the young lady’s inquiries about any progress in finding someone to work with the providers who wanted to stay on the mountain.

Finally, in the spring, the evil queen brought some flatlander advisors to the mountain who said they wanted to supervise the providers who wanted to stay, and the young lady was very pleased. But alas it turned out to be untrue as the evil queen really just wanted all the mountain people to bring their beans to the flatlanders and give up their mountain retreat.

The providers who wanted to stay were summarily dismissed and the town was given three weeks’ notice that people there would no longer be advised at home.

So what is the moral of the story? When you give your beans to an evil queen, you just get a lot of gas in return. But alas the story is not over and the mountain people have a long history of supporting one another.

This author, and I’m sure many others, stands ready and willing to fight and make available any resources to ensure that health care remains on the mountain.

Gary J. Kolanchick, M.D.

Kittery, Maine

Editor’s note: Gary J. Kolanchick, M.D., long-time Berne doctor, retired in 2016 after passing his practice — now overseen by Community Care Physicians, C.P. — to Kristin Mack, D.O. who is leaving this month to work at Hudson Headwaters Health Network in Ticonderoga, in Essex County. Community Care Physicians is closing the practice at the end of June, urging Hilltown patients to go to other of its offices.

See editorial on facing page.

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