Well all of a sudden the bean counters and temps running the medical center want to share information. The many million dollar “plan” is now public, available on CD. Digital documents, impressive! Well if you can’t save lives you can at least save a tree. Maybe Cambio Health Solutions consultants are closeted tree huggers.
“The plan” is not completely without merit but it is humorless. It consists of mostly numbers on paper. These guys can make some real contributions to getting bills posted and paid. It’s when they start to dismember patient services where they get kind of scary. But what about the “secret data?” Well, a nurse with a nose for numbers read through the whole report. According to Lynn, “consultants are like slugs, they leave a trail”, buried in the pages of electronic prose she found a reference to a book. The reference got her online where voila! She found that “proprietary healthcare data” could be purchased for $500 dollars. Five hundred dollars to 3.2 millions dollars (consulting fees paid by the medical center), in sales that’s called an excellent mark up.
What about the rest of the medical center’s brain trust, the authority board? Well they’re meeting away. The authority board is the county supervisor’s answer to Jerry Springer. In an effort to discourage public participation meetings are announced at the last moment and get crammed into small hot meeting rooms, Sheriff Plummer and his merry men flank the members. The last public meeting had 4 commanders, four uniformed sheriffs and Mr. P himself. County bureaucrats, the consultants and the executive temps try to fill the room so that community members and staff won’t fit. Board member Irene Weinreb does an excellent judge Judy impression, she wrestles the gavel from other trustees and threatens to clear the room and the president of the Alameda county board of supervisors, Gaile Steele power knits throughout the proceedings.
Though highly entertaining the authority board has no real power, the county supervisors get to make all the real decisions (most of them bad.) So what are these four fearless democrats doing about this mess? If you were a liberal democrat like Nate Miley, Keith Carson, Alice Lai-Bitker or Gail Steele what would you do? Clearly the public wants and needs a public hospital; in fact they’re willing to pay for it. Clearly there’s a vacuum of leadership the size of Texas and the supervisors and their staff are being flooded with concerned calls and letters about the dangers of implementing “ the plan.” Fortunately the real financial crisis ended with Measure, “A” which put the hospital quite close to break even, so the radical service cuts could easily be avoided. The supervisors could easily appoint some new board members, stop the service cuts, and move toward bringing in some permanent management, executives that understand hospital operations, as well as staff cuts and collections. So what have these dazzling democrats actually done? Well mostly they’ve been dodging phone calls and avoiding pulic meetings. The only decisive move taken recently has been to raise the medical center’s rent by close to two million dollars!