NATIONAL GAMBLING IMPACT STUDY COMMISSION
MS. MELTZER: Good evening. My name is Dorothea Meltzer. I serve as chairman of the Board of Governors of Atlantic City Medical Center.
I grew up in Atlantic City. I raised my family in this community and have been active in business and civic affairs all of my life. This evening I would like to share my perspective on the development of Atlantic City in the past 20 years and the impact that it has had on health care.
Since 1854, people have come to Atlantic City to have fun. Long before gaming, Atlantic City was America's favorite playground, and for 100 years Atlantic City Medical Center has been the only hospital in Atlantic City to take care of the visitors who fell ill while visiting us.
When you think about that for a moment, we are in a rather unique position. I can't think of another community in the United States that has quite the demographics of Atlantic City. Thirty-five thousand permanent residents, 35 million visitors, and only one hospital.
As a medical center, we have served residents and visitors to our community before gaming, and we continue to provide services after gaming.
At no time in our 100 year history has the medical center's infrastructure been stronger. As gaming has increased the attractiveness of Atlantic City as a destination, more visitors have arrived each year putting more pressure on our facilities and personnel to deliver service.
At each stage along the way, the hotel casinos of Atlantic City have been there to support the development of outstanding health care facilities for the community. In the early years, that support ranged from revenues gained from video arcades to a major benefit featuring Frank Sinatra, which helped our medical center at a critical time.
When vehicular traffic to Atlantic City grew to a new critical mass that required our medical center to invest in the development of a trauma center, the casinos with CRDA were there to help us build a state-of-the-art facility.
We will break ground for a $14 million ambulatory care center for the community in April, with the support of the casino industry and CRDA. I don't want to give you the impression that when I use the term "support" I am recognizing only financial support. There is much more than that.
It's the talent that resides within these enterprises, the time commitment to help the social service structure grow and develop. You must remember that casino gambling not only made Atlantic City a more successful tourist destination, but a better community, a community which could develop new standards and improve quality of life for its people.
The partnership that exists between government, the industry, and the social sector has allowed tax dollars to find their way directly back into the community, to focus on those projects and programs which raise the standard of care and quality of life.
As a result, Atlantic City Medical Center is now better prepared than ever before to meet increasing demands on our health care delivery system because we have partners, partners in government and partners in this industry that care as much as we do about the quality and delivery of health care services.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you, and I do appreciate the opportunity to have visited there yesterday. It is quite a facility.
MS. MELTZER: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN JAMES: Thank you.