Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Rock Bottom

Well, the medical center has been around awhile, it’s seen some spectacular scandals, some flamboyant flops, but lately it feels like things might have sunk to a new low. Staff and supply shortages have ground many areas to a crawl if not a halt. Sure the consultants continue to forge ahead insisting that cutting 43% of the staff on a nursing floor that treats the critically ill won’t affect service or quality, but no one really listens to them anymore. They keep coming up with new bad ideas, but the consultant/executive team has become so dysfunctional at this point they couldn’t fix a sandwich, without 20 subcontractors.

The county supervisors hired them to “downsize.” The supervisors wanted a fast neat surgical strike, hundreds of annoying union employees gone in a single blow, leaving a budget surplus. The extra cash could be quietly moved back into the county supervisor’s pockets and used for Alameda County’s high priority projects like paying off Al Davis, building more jails, or granting fat contracts to big political donors. Well, things didn’t go as expected, that’s the problem with these “get rich quick plans.” The consultants couldn’t deliver the cash, but that’s the good news, the bad news is they don’t know how to run a hospital; things aren’t just staying the same they are deteriorating rapidly. It‘s time that we officially declare this situation a quagmire.

What has frightened staff and patients more then ridiculous lay-off proposals is the consulting team’s complete inability to manage the day-to-day operations. As my mother used to say when I would leave her home alone with my father and my brother, “I’m in a sinking ship with blind sailors!”

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