We need a hospital.

For the past 18 months, that has been the lament of many Scott Countians — over cups of coffee at McDonald’s, in checkout lines at Save-A-Lot or Walmart, on Facebook walls.

It’s cliche, but sometimes you really don’t know how much you’ll miss something until it’s gone, and over the last year and a half, Scott County has been awakened to the realization of what it means to be without a hospital and the emergency care that a hospital provides.

The prospects of being in a serious car accident, or suffering from a heart attack or stroke, and not having an emergency room physician merely minutes away is frightening. When foul weather prevents air-evac helicopters from flying, the situation becomes even more precarious. From Oneida, the nearest hospital is more than a half-hour away, even by ambulance.

There are probably many reasons why the hospital closed in May 2012, but it boils down to one simple matter: the hospital was not profitable.

Pioneer Health Services has made an investment in Scott County. The hospital can only be sustainable this time around if we — the citizens of Scott County — make the same investment in Pioneer Health Services.

There are certain stigmas attached to rural hospitals. It is a stigma that is not unique to Scott County’s hospital. The perception is that the larger hospitals in urban settings are more sophisticated, with better diagnostic equipment, better physicians and better care. While there are many things rural hospitals are not equipped to do because it does not make sense from a financial standpoint, the doctors, nurses and specialists at community hospitals receive the same training and certifications, and are held to the same standards, as their counterparts at larger hospitals in larger cities.

Certainly, it will be up to Pioneer Health to earn our trust. The doctors and nurses employed by Pioneer Community Hospital of Scott must provide care that inspires that trust.

But, in turn, it’s up to us to put trust in the hospital. Our local physicians and the rest of us as potential patients must buy in to this effort. If we don’t, all the work that has gone into making the hospital re-opening a reality will be in vain. The jobs, the tax dollars, the industrial recruitment tool and, most importantly, the health care the hospital provides will all be lost.

“We need a hospital.” That has been our mantra.

We’ve got a hospital.

Let’s use it.