Here's What I Think About That

The Waiting is the Worst


My husband's cardiac symptoms took us to the ER. After a now-familiar temperature scan and questions about symptoms and recent travel, we find a seat in a long hallway lined with patients on benches, chairs, on gurneys and in wheelchairs, waiting for treatment.

A wife tries to comfort her partner, writhing in pain and pleading for someone to give him something. It takes hours. The staff tell her they can’t give him anything for his pain until he is in the actual emergency room. He begs his wife to take him somewhere else. But there is nowhere else to go.

“This is a repeated cycle and it’s terrible for people that want help,” a nurse told us. “But this Covid thing? It’s killing us.”

Everything is fine until it’s not. Things have not been fine at St. Anthony Hospital or most other hospitals. They are overwhelmed. The existing staff are working twice as hard, pulling 12-hour shifts and more as needed. Staffing has always been problematic but during the pandemic the situation has gone from bad to worse.

Emergency patients with broken limbs, smashed fingers, kidney stones and, yes, cardiac conditions are triaged in the waiting room, which now effectively functions as the ER. There are two exam rooms where an MD assesses patients and orders tests. Technicians holler out names looking for patients to take back for various diagnostics. It doesn’t take long before you know the people sitting around you and can answer, “Someone came and took him back for a test” or “She’s in the bathroom.”

Behind double doors and a security station, the actual emergency exam rooms have become holding areas for patients who have been admitted to the hospital but are still waiting for a bed upstairs.

A name rang out that I recognized from a recent KP News article. When she returned from her test, she sat down in the chair next to me. We'd met before but I reintroduced my N-95 face-masked self. Her eyes lit up and we became instant friends — thrown together in this strange circumstance neither of us bargained for.

As her eyes surveyed the surroundings she said, “Covid really has changed everything, hasn’t it?”

Why does it feel so comforting to be in this situation with people you know? We have the same doctor, shop at the same grocery store and know many hundreds of people in common from the Key Peninsula.

In a recent article in The Atlantic, “What We Lost When Gannett Came to Town,” writer Elaine Godfrey describes the importance of local newspapers going beyond their oft-cited role as government watchdogs and defenders of truth. “We don’t often talk about how a paper’s collapse makes people feel: less connected, more alone.”

Local newspapers weave together the strands of real lives that form the structure of community consciousness.

The real value of KP News isn’t breaking news, although we do manage that every now and again. We often have stories that are noted, picked up by other editors and reported by other journalists in other publications.

Local independent newspapers do something else every bit as important as digging into school, parks, fire districts and county governance.

We report stories and write about groups and people no other newspaper would print, much less know about. We write about news, natural treasures and fascinating characters as nobody else can because, as they say in the media, we're embedded, we live here.

You’ve read it here countless times before. We are unique because you help make us so.

About three years ago we met a publishing consultant who is called upon when a local newspaper teeters on the edge, unable to keep their business going. The owners, often crusty old newshounds, feel torn between throwing in the towel and the fear that what makes their small town a community would wither without the power of a newspaper to nourish it.

The consultant, an out-of-town subscriber to KP News, tells us he opens his briefcase and places our most recent issue on the publishers' desks. “You could try something like this. It works better than you might think.”

Fair, well-written and -researched local news is the juice that makes this newspaper what it is. We cover everything from political campaigns to scarecrow contests, the local grad who makes it big or the 7-year old raising a pet alligator lizard she found in her backyard.

Our advertisers are local business owners and organizations who not only want to meet you but want to develop a relationship and earn your business. Churches, social clubs, civic and philanthropic organizations all rely on the KP News to keep you informed and engaged.

There is so much good that happens on the KP and it’s all because of you.

Big regional and national newspapers serve their role in society well but they can never replace what comes from a hyperlocal paper.

We believe that every community deserves to read a newspaper entirely devoted to them because local journalism builds genuine community — made up of the kind of people you meet in the hospital and feel comforted by in the middle of a pandemic.

There is no way to express the pride and admiration I feel for the individuals who make and deliver the award-winning newspaper you hold in your hands today without becoming teary-eyed. The awards from journalism organizations, from people we don’t know and who don’t live here, confirm we are doing good work. 

We make community better together. We make it real. Your support keeps us going strong. Thank you.