Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Year In Dirt (2005)

“Memories, like the corners of our mind, misty …”
-Some seventies song I hated

Like most medical center employees, I seldom have the time or energy for reflection but I’m told it helps, so here goes.

We started out 2005 with Cambio Healthcare Solutions at the helm of the ship (have you ever heard the expression, “ in a sinking ship with blind sailors.”) The turnaround team would fly in Tuesday through Thursday and not pay bills and attempt to cut or contract out services. They gave all the union psychiatrists at John George Pavilion two weeks notice; they had planned to contract out the mental health services to the Psychic Hotline. They implemented a 35-step process for approval of all purchase orders over fifty cents. Hospital vendors hounded department heads for unpaid bills and had begun to threaten to stop delivery on non-essential items like oxygen.

The county budget battles began early with Sheriff Plummer and the DA positioning themselves to gobble up any Measure “A” monies Plummer squeeze out of the medical center. In a well-orchestrated attempt to loot the medical center budget the sheriff, the county sups and their minions rolled out the plan. “Chainsaw” Charlie Plummer was nominated to be on the Hospital Authority Board, all of the county sups now vigorously deny having made the nomination but it happened with great fanfare and press coverage. Around the same time Grand Jury Foreman Keith Boyer, a retired Sheriff and congressman “ Pete” Stark’s son, baby Stark, released a scathing report on the medical center. The report read just like Sheriff Plummer’s many letters to the county sups about the medical center, light on facts and heavy on ideology. Coincidence or corruption, you be the judge?

Well, the unions and Vote Health couldn’t take this mess lying down. They pointed out that the appointment of the sheriff to the hospital authority was unwise, unethical and probably illegal. Politicians, especially county sups respond poorly to reason so Brad Cleveland, Kay Eisenhower and hospital employees created a flash mob. Hundreds of phone calls, faxes and emails later the sups saw the light and withdrew the nomination. Then the Hospital Authority Board in an impressive display of brains and balls wrote a response to the scathing grand jury report.

Cambio ever touting their successes spent their last months concocting a bogus budget; according to their beautifully typed presentations they had met their performance goals and cured the county hospital. The medical center even without Cambio’s lies, half-truths and excessive fees still has a much more stable future because of Measure “A” and toward the end of the year we got real executives. Wright Lassiter III has the poise and charisma of a Senator and Bill Manns doesn’t look old enough to drink but he’s super smart and he’s not work shy. He goes home from his twelve-hour days and fixes his own floors and gutters. He needs to stay off his roof in the rain; he really doesn’t want to end up in the emergency department with us cutting off his clothes.


boomito said...

poise and charisma of a senator?

Ann, are you losing your edge?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for almost a year, finding it after "googling" Susan Crutchfield prior to her coming to "save us" from ourselves. Even with three Cambio CEOs in three years, they have still managed to mis-manage our hospital. Your stories about what they did to your medical center hit very close to home. We're in the midst of due diligence, hoping the hospital will sell to a for-profit physician-owned group (be very careful what you wish for) and I'm certain the Cambiodians will claim success if the sale goes through. Meanwhile, our clinical staff trudges through each day trying to find the equipment and supplies they need to take care of our patients, we endure meetings in which the beatings continue until morale improves and our medical staff has become so dysfunctional I'm surprised they have any patients left to see. Thanks for reminding me we are not alone!