10/26/06 — Caring for others: WATCH nurse made health care for everyone her mission

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Caring for others: WATCH nurse made health care for everyone her mission

Kathy Johnson is not someone whose name you will hear in everyday conversation. But if you are a client of the WATCH van services, you probably know her well.

And if you have been involved at all with the organization that provides medical care for those who cannot afford it on their own, you probably admire her as well

Ms. Johnson is leaving her position as nurse after six years of making sure as many people as possible in Wayne County had a chance to get the health care they needed — no matter what their income or social status.

Her tireless dedication to the program is one of the reasons it has reached so many — and those who will come after her have some pretty big shoes to fill.

As is customary for someone who does so much for others, Ms. Johnson will not take credit for the success of the WATCH program. She credits a dedicated staff and a boatload of volunteers who gave their time and energy to take care of Wayne County’s citizens.

And she is right to celebrate their contributions, but Ms. Johnson’s leadership and tireless work ethic are a big part of the program’s success as well.

Ms. Johnson is headed home to take care of a sick family member. She and her family will be in the thoughts of many whose lives she has touched in the years she has been here.

She will be missed.

The fact that the WATCH program has had to provide health care for so many in this county is a reason for all of us to pause.

The increasingly high cost of getting medical care — and the large number of people who simply cannot afford to buy it — are issues that we need to look at not just as a community, but as a nation.

While programs like WATCH can help, they cannot begin to cover the large numbers of people who will avoid going to the doctor because they cannot handle the bill.

Ms. Johnson wanted the WATCH program to be their fail-safe — as did the volunteers and donors who made the program possible.

In her honor, we, as a community, should make sure the work she began continues. There is no reason why anyone who lives in Wayne County should have to go without health care.

And we have the power to make sure that happens.

Published in Editorials on October 26, 2006 11:34 AM