By now, most people in New York state know about the Berger Commission and it's series of recommendations for hospital and nursing home closings, mergers, and the like.

Well, now word is getting out that almost none of the hospitals that the people who were entrusted to make these decisions about were actually visited. Instead, the commission took numbers and statistics and, for the most part, made their recommendations off that.

Suddenly, this takes on a different look and feel, one that's already generating bad press and bad feelings across the state. Sure, it's always valid to take statistics into account when making critical decisions. Not doing so would be totally irresponsible.

However, healthcare is a totally different animal than retail, and has to be handled much differently. For instance, every hospital in this state, and in most states across the country, must have an emergency room and provide emergency services, even though almost every single emergency room in the country loses money, some lots of money. How many businesses are forced to continue carrying product that isn't selling, or purchasing services that aren't in their best interests?

Healthcare is also more community directed, as opposed to regular industry. Sure, closing a factory might have a major impact on the economy of a community, but closing a healthcare facility basically means that some people are going to have to go through hoops to figure out where to go for their healthcare needs, often much further. For instance, without mentioning names, one hospital I worked for, which is now closed, meant people who used that hospital had to now decide, based on which side of the facility they lived on, whether to go 45 minutes to either Rochester or Oswego, 40 minutes to Syracuse, or 35 minutes to Newark or Geneva for healthcare, whereas they only had a 10 minute ride before, and, living in the snowbelt region, who knows what the ramifications were for those who might have been injured somewhere in the middle, and whether they might have survived with a facility much closer (if anyone has been paying attention, the snowbelt area has been hammered particularly heavy the last few weeks).

As I stated in a previous past, it's never easy to make decisions as to whether a medical facility should be closed. Usually these types of decisions involve a lot of emotions and struggle, and no one takes it lightly. Making such an important decision sight unseen seems cowardly, and seems to bring less credibility and fairness to the overall process. Healthcare has never been all about money, no matter what people believe.