There has been some talk lately about the fate of Horace Williams Airport and the UNC doctors that came to the House Appropriations Committee subcommittee meeting to plead to keep it open. Some legislators listened and sympathized. As reported by the N&O, doctors were saying they may have to close their clinics due to the “additional inconvenience”, and poor children would be “left behind if we don’t come there as frequently.” I participated in AHEC programs as a student at UNC Dental School, (but did not fly to my locations of service). I realize how important the AHEC program is in serving the patients of the state. I very much support the doctors and appreciate their service to those in need throughout the state. However, I do not feel that a 25 minute trip to RDU, versus the 10 it might take them to get to HW, is something that would prevent these doctors from serving those patients. The message seems to be, “because I have to drive 15 more minutes to get to the plane, I am not going to come to you and treat you.” Are the doctors that are so committed to these patients unable to squeeze in 15 more minutes in their schedule to get on the airplane? I’m sure the argument is that it takes much longer to get to RDU and do the same thing. Yes, it has been nice for the doctors to have the luxury of hopping on the plane right in their backyard. But maybe there are alternatives to the picture that most of us have about travelling to RDU and flying somewhere. We all think that we have to get there, negotiate parking and get from parking to the terminal, check in with tickets and bags and wait in long lines. If UNC has its own hangar at the airport, has its own transportation shuttle set up for doctors travelling from Chapel Hill to the airport, etc, easy access to the plane with no bags to check, etc…..then maybe the picture might be a little different. On a related issue, has anyone ever thought of the security issues these days when it comes to airports being located next to large buildings such as those that may be a part of Carolina North? I hope that the legislators will see through the portrayals of an inconvenienced doctor having to drive down I-40 that may force them to close their clinics to the poor children of the state. I suggest the future picture may not be as bad as it may seem.
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