No, this is not “normal,” 78 murders in Oakland this year. Real estate at all-time highs and earnest Berkeley/Albany parents worried about their kids getting shot at parties. We have more money, more desperation, more death and violence than in years past.
County Supervisor Nate Miley’s office said, “Well, that’s Oakland and the City Council’s responsibility.” I said, “ We have nothing for people, no support services to offer the broken, the battered and the frightened.”
Nate Miley got lots of great press for his violence prevention program and feels he’s spent enough resources on Oakland. I sounded so pitiful on the phone that Miley’s staff felt sorry for me and said they’d send over a brochure.
I didn’t bother calling my City Council Member, Jean Quan. Jeanie prefers not to talk about crime: it frightens people who vote.
So my dear friends and co-workers if it feels like we’re standing alone in a flood of violence, diseases of desperation and community disintegration that’s because we are. Politicians say they want to help the sick, the poor, the injured, the unparented and the over and under-medicated but the truth is they don’t mean it.
See, the county hospital catches all the fabulous failures of our bureaucratic and inept county and city services. Jails fail to prevent chronic illness and disability, compassionately release inmates to Highland. Adult Protective Services fails to protect –that’s right Highland. A nursing home ships a psychotic patient from Hopunk California because they get paid extra to take care of the guy and they realize he bites and throws feces. No problem, send him to Highland. How about Behavioral Health they cost effectively under-manage mental illness and substance abuse for years and then just send their clients to the Highland. Violence prevention fails to prevent violence, that’s right, let Highland deal with it.
That’s why our patients and our hospital get defunded and attacked by politicians: we take care of people. Politicians hate us because we remind them of their failures. They don’t come to Highland to see victims of violence and their families – they hold Summits and press conferences to talk to campaign donors and to expound on how much they are doing about the problem.
See, people fall between the bureaucratic cracks. County’s all about spreadsheets, power points and political pork programs; it’s no longer about people or their problems. Caregiving has become an act of political defiance. So, for all you baby docs, yes, our leaders indifference is more frightening than the carnage and yes, it is up to us the fix world as well as our patients. But don’t despair Supervisor Nate Miley is going to send us a helpful brochure!