December 15, 2008
Welcome To ACORN General Hospital
I've been a registered nurse for 30 years, so the future of American health care is one of my greatest concerns. Now that Mr. Obama has won the election, I decided to investigate what may be facing patients and health care workers.
I started my research at Barack Obama's website and his Plan for a Healthy America. What a waste of time. It read like a treatise from a beauty pageant contestant.
What kind of medical expertise does Barack have? Remember this youtube where his teleprompter malfunctioned? He stumbled through an excruciatingly inept explanation of how health care costs can be lowered if kids with asthma could just be provided "breathalyzers," or "inhalators" instead of cluttering up emergency rooms.
This brilliant (as we're told ad nauseam) Ivy League lawyer-savant wants to run our health care but apparently is ignorant of the word inhaler. (There must have been more than one nurse in that crowd shaking her head and thinking, "Great. Another dunce.")
Certainly Obama is not the first politician who clumsily attempts to feign a molecule of medical knowledge in order to sway voters who know even less. Obviously, he is not capable of writing (or possibly even reading) any health care legislation. I decided I'd need to find out the views of his advisors. Since his wife Michelle had actually worked for a hospital, I began with her.
Let's start with her resume. Michelle came to the University of Chicago Medical Center from The University of Chicago, where she ran something called the University of Chicago Community Service Center:
which offered new opportunities to student, staff, and faculty for service learning, volunteerism and civic engagement. This was a first step for the University to engage students in community service activities.
Looks like Community Organizing was an Obama family affair!
In 2002 Michelle was recruited by the Medical Center, where she first was hired as the Executive Director of Community Affairs. After three years, she was promoted to Vice President for Community and External Relations and her salary was tripled to over $300,000.00 a year. It is entirely coincidental, we are assured, that her husband was elected to the US Senate the year of her promotion.
When she was promoted, Michelle said:
My goal in this position is to continue to broaden the Hospitals' relationships with our neighborhood and with our city. We have an obligation to ensure that we use our resources on behalf of our neighborhood and our city. In this new role, my goal is to better integrate community engagement into the culture of this institution and to expand our partnerships with local organizations and institutions.
Nowhere in this mishmash of goalspeak is there any hint of taking care of sick people. It looks like Michelle's view is that the hospital has "an obligation to ensure we use our resources on behalf of our neighborhood and our city." Community organizing meets health care.
And what did Michelle accomplish as a hospital Vice President? According to her resume:
She grew a staff of two into a diverse, 23-person team that carries out a threefold mission of improving community-based health care, increasing business opportunity of South Side businesses and enhancing the Medical Center's considerable service to the surrounding community.
So her first accomplishment was increasing the size of her own department eleven-fold! Forget the use of the word "diverse". The sheer amount of expenditure involved in a 23 person department with a Director earning over 300K is breathtaking! I can just imagine the response to clinical department heads submitting budget requests in the Era of Michelle: "Sorry, there's no money for (write your request here). Vice Presidents married to US Senators don't come cheap!"
Michelle declared she had a threefold mission for her position at the hospital. First, "improving community-based health care." At least this claim involves health care. However, I doubt it took a very expensive Senator's wife to do it. I've known social workers who accomplish this every day with much less support and no fanfare.
Her second mission was "increasing business opportunity of South Side businesses."
Increasing business opportunity? Call me crazy, but for 30 years I've been under the impression that hospitals exist to take care of sick people. The patient comes first! (At least that's what they always told us during those interminable new employee orientation days.) Sometimes the hospital hires area businesses in order to improve the delivery of care. But the businesses aren't the focus. The patient is.
Next, Michelle enhanced "the Medical Center's considerable service to the surrounding community." So how did Michelle enhance the hospital's community service? Here's a partial list from her resume:
Service Learning Initiatives, Day of Service and Reflection, Adopt-A-School programs, Principal for a Day and Real Men Cook celebrations.
Sounds like a $300,000.00 agenda to me! Seriously, most of these "accomplishments" sound exactly like the Eagle Scout projects completed by my son's Boy Scout Troop! The difference being my son and his friends didn't charge the local hospital.
For all the glowing praise heaped upon Michelle for her External Relations work, I can see that she did seem to have one problem. Her day of Service and Reflection drew less than 300 volunteers. (I'm sure that's including the diverse staff of 23). Out of a workforce of 9,500 Medical Center employees, this is a dismal turnout.
But it's predictable when a country has a free market health care system. It works like this: The nurse goes to the hospital that hires her for, let's say, 1/6th the pay of an External Relations Director. The nurse agrees to practice nursing for 40 hours a week, more if the floor is short-staffed. At the end of her 8 or 12-hour day the nurse goes home.
The last thing 9,200 Medical Center employees want to do after a tough week is to spend a day "reflecting" with Michelle and her diverse staff. And because, at the moment, the nurse works for the hospital and not for Barack's federal government, she has the freedom to say "No thanks."
But this free market setup was all wrong for Michelle's goal: to mine the rich resources of money and hospital personnel for the necessary work of community organizing. The money wasn't too difficult -- just divert those resources that have been set aside for raises, or equipment, or education. Then tell the staff how broke the hospital is because "reimbursements aren't keeping up with expenditures."
The problem is that health care workers aren't college students. Forced "service learning hours" aren't part of the job description, and if one hospital tells me that taking part in Michelle's "Adopt-A-School" program is part of my contract, I'll head over to the hospital down the road. And I'll deck the first limousine liberal who tells me that health care workers need to be forced to help their communities.
Drop by any health fair, Relay for Life, blood drive, or free clinic. All staffed by volunteers, many of them health care workers. Think back to 9/11. I knew of so many nurses, paramedics, and other health professionals who jumped in their cars and just drove to New York and DC to serve.
But try to imagine health care in the world of Obama. All of us will be enlisted in the Community Service army, where patient care is merely ancillary to your job. Now we will leave work to go staff the after school program at the new community center. Next weekend it's over to the mall where we will work the voter registration table. It's all part of "enhancing the hospital service to the community." Because in Barack and Michelle's world, there's no individual patient. Only a vast, nebulous "community." Welcome to ACORN General.