At it’s core, Portland, Oregon is a community …. our community …. it’s where we live; where we raise our children; where we choose to make a difference; where we express our spirit. Central to our community are our neighborhoods and the wonderful folks we share them with.
Portland is blessed with strong, traditional, established neighborhoods. Many of our inner eastside neighborhoods are filled with second, third, even fourth-generation families. Our neighborhoods are ‘front porch’ neighborhoods where folks reach out to their fellow brothers and sisters. Our neighborhoods are home to strong schools, block parties, eye contact, understanding, picking up litter, honoring elders, fixing it even if you didn’t break it, sharing what you have, and, and, and …. In fact, Portland’s neighborhoods are the envy of large cities throughout our country.
Unfortunately, for many in the Laurelhurst, North Tabor and Rose City Park neighborhoods, our community is under siege. From it’s humble beginning more than 50 years ago, Providence Hospital has been on a growth march that has compromised the core of our neighborhood.
Yes …. Providence is an institution that does lots of good things for our fellow humans … yes, we understand that modern healthcare is a privilege that is due respect … and yes, we understand hospitals must be located somewhere …. but the fact remains that Providence is a very poor neighbor. Worse yet, and to be blunt … being a good neighbor appears to be a very low priority for Providence. I have attended several meetings between Providence and the neighbors in the past few months. The mood is usually tense; nearing terse. The body language from Providence representatives is defensive … and the message is clear: we will do what we have to; and maybe a little less. A meeting is required; so we will. The sense of neighborhood and community; clearly missing. Very old school. Sincere, good neighboring just doesn’t appear to be one of Providence’s concerns.
It has been well-documented that one of the most damaging impacts of large institutions on neighborhoods is the heavy influx of car traffic they attract. Our neighborhood streets have become byways for the transportation miles required to feed an institution the size of Providence. Our quality of life, our families’ safety, and our sanity have all been severely affected by these transportation miles. What is most frustrating to local neighbors is how passive Providence in their efforts to reduce the wake zone of traffic that their institution creates.
When neighbors read of (and bring to Providence’s attention) aggressive programs implemented by similar, even smaller institutions (e.g. Seattle Children’s Hospital) … Providence appears content to continue upon it’s passive, do-the-minimum-required path. Again, we, the neighbors, have little choice but to conclude that Providence has no real interest in being a good local, community-minded neighbor.
It is hard to fathom; and even harder to accept.
I call upon the Providence management team to look into their institutional souls. Are your attitudes and your actions really consistent with that of good neighbors in a neighborhood-oriented community? Are you really the neighbor you want to be ?
I really do believe that with only moderate change in attitude and projection …. Providence could indeed be a good neighbor. You owe it to yourselves to explore the possibility.