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Why we need a Y

Posted: November 23, 2011 3:46 p.m.
Updated: November 25, 2011 5:00 a.m.

To those of you who don’t know me, I am an Internal Medicine physician who has practiced at the hospital here in Camden for the past four years. I am the mother of three young children, and I live here in downtown Camden. I have followed the debate about the YMCA closely, and for many reasons, I support this project because I care about my patients, my family, and our community.

My patients need the Y. I have the privilege of taking care of people from all walks of life here in Camden. Old, young, rich, or poor, all of them can benefit from the Y. Many of my patients participated in exercise classes, support groups, and lifelong learning classes at the Health Resource Center. With the closing of this facility a great resource has been lost to the public. The Y can fill this gap and so much more.

We are losing the battle to obesity in Camden. I diagnose several patients a week with Type 2 diabetes, which is generally related to obesity and inactivity. With this diagnosis, my patients are at increased risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney failure, blindness, peripheral vascular disease, and many other ailments. Many of my patients can get rid of their diabetes with weight loss, improved diet, and increased exercise, all of which can be facilitated and encouraged by the Y.

We desperately need an indoor pool in Camden. This is included in the long-range plan that has been advocated for by several of our city council members. I have taken care of near-drowning victims in Camden, and I believe every school age child should have swimming lessons to prevent these catastrophes from happening yet again in Camden. There are communities in South Carolina where this is already a reality thanks to the YMCA. In addition, many of my patients have limitations such as osteoarthritis and chronic back pain which makes aquatic exercise the only real option for them, yet this is not available on a daily basis to them.

Many of my indigent patients need the Y. The Y does not turn anyone away, regardless of whether they can afford the monthly fee. I have so many patients who would love to be able to follow my recommendations, but they lack the financial resources to do so. The Y would provide them with the opportunity to follow their doctor’s orders.

My family needs the Y. There is not a family gym in Camden where childcare is provided. To work out I would have to go to Lugoff, or as many of my friends do, go to the YMCAs in Sumter or Columbia. In addition, my children deserve adequate facilities in which to play, practice, and compete in their own physical activities.

The city of Camden needs the Y. If we give people more reasons to go downtown, rather than just drive through it, they are likely to support local businesses and spend money there.

Our community needs the Y. Too many children in our community are being lost to gangs, alcohol, and drugs. I see the devastating consequences of this daily on a first-hand basis at the hospital. The consequences of this lifestyle are very expensive not only to those living such lives but also to the community. The YMCA can change lives! I have heard from many members of our community about how Ys in other areas of the state and country have changed their lives. Why would we not want this for Camden??

I am not in favor of the referendum because we need the Y now. In the time it takes to have a referendum, the YMCA could be built. There is no need to postpone something that so many people need and something that makes so much sense. In closing, I support the YMCA project because of the love I have for my patients, my family, and our community.

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