Why I Support BMH – “My goal was always to resolve the problem”

Ron Romano has many blessings to count. Quasi-retired at the age of 50 and living in a beautiful log home in Saxtons River, he and Chuck, his partner of 24 years, can hike through their 21 acres of land or simply sit in their screened gazebo and watch the trout jump in the backyard pond.

But family is the blessing Ron holds most high. His parents still live in his hometown of Portland, Maine, and this past summer he was able to go up and celebrate their anniversary along with his two sisters, Mary and Rae.

“Many of our friends have lost their folks. It’s nice that I still have both. You have to cherish it,” Ron says while looking down at his brown docksiders, which he wears with no socks. “Unfortunately, it was the week after we were up there that they found a tumor on Rae’s kidney.”

Rae had already survived breast cancer, and it was in honor of her victory that Ron recently made a donation to the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital campaign to raise funds for purchasing digital mammography equipment. He credits Ellen Smith, the hospital’s Director of Development, with the idea of making the donation in her name, and expressed his appreciation that Ellen had gift and card in the mail to Rae immediately after hearing the latest news.

Healthcare had been Ron’s profession for 26 years. Fresh out of Boston University, he became an intern at a major nonprofit insurance company in Massachusetts, and worked his way up to vice-president. He was put in charge of the entire appeals process, as well as serving as ombudsman and privacy officer.

“My goal was always to resolve the problem. Not deny, but try to find some middle ground in what we do,” says Ron. “We had huge customer satisfaction, because our mindset really was all about taking care of the customers. As a result, our company was also financially very strong.”

Ron also spent five years as an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching graduate students how managed care works. He designed a course called “Basics of Managed Care” for the graduate track for folks who were going into health policy careers.

As much as he loved teaching and appreciated the professional achievements, he knew when it was time to walk away. He and Chuck were spending every weekend in Saxtons River at what was then just a summer getaway. But when Chuck was given early retirement from his position as a civil engineer, Ron frequently found himself making the Monday drive back to Boston by himself.

“I loved Boston but I had lived there for almost 30 years,” says Ron. “I feel blessed that I’m able to have left a great job and take this time to do what I want; poke in the garden, hike, kayak, travel a little bit. Some day, I might go back to work.”

Ron was already thinking about ways to shift his support toward causes in his new locale when he first received a fund request mailer from Brattleboro Memorial Hospital over a year ago. His experience with community hospitals compelled him to send a check.

“It’s important that we have strong hospital systems, especially in a more rural environment. You’ve got to be able to get quick care and good care,” says Ron. “So what we all need to do is chip in a little bit and make sure they’re funded.”