Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Ann Plan

The strategic planning process has begun. This earthquake retrofitting stuff necessitates a new hospital building, so the turf building, fundraising and brainstorming has begun in earnest. The last real CEO we had, Ken Cohen planned heavily, in fact the executive team and the docs retreated deeply into the planning process, they weren’t seen for months. I guess strategy necessitates a secretiveness and withdrawal from the day to day, too many cooks in the kitchen and that sort of thing.

Anyway there’s a poverty of information and no means for working people to watch or participate in the strategic planning process, no union representatives or union members are invited allowed to attend. It’s sort of a Wizard of Oz situation. Since mums the word on the actual strategic plan, and I have to write about something, let me lay out “Ann’s Plan”.

Here’s the deal, a bigger hospital is better. Why ? Well the emergency room backs up onto the streets of Oakland and the numbers of uninsured show no signs of decreasing. Population’s up, car wrecks are up, average age is up, violence is up and last year’s flu season overfilled all the local hospitals. So even ignoring any natural disasters and outbreaks, we need the beds.

More importantly Highland’s currently too small and too resource starved to do the job right. We get the sickest of the sick and we keep them alive and get them going but that’s a far cry from comprehensive management of chronic illness and disability in the poor, and the elderly. What about cancer, TB, diseases of poverty and desperation? We can’t track cancer, we can’t support caregivers and families living with chronic illness, we provide care one crisis at a time. We have to get people out the door as quick as possible because of the long lines of sick people waiting in the Emergency Room.

Without hospital beds we can’t do the elective surgeries and procedures which increase patient’s function and health and ultimately decrease healthcare cost. The County Supes whine and moan about us spending money on chemotherapy, ventilators and cardiac drugs-the outrageous cost of healthcare. They never talk about the flip side: the cost of not providing healthcare; under medicated paranoid homeless people cost my community two small businesses and lots of people sadness and grief. How about angry juveniles who have no skills, no income and no parents because they lost their primary caregiver to a treatable illness? We have thousands of people who cannot function and the pull of their dependence, disease and pain affects us all. See, we’re dealing with the cost of not caring everyday in Oakland and it’s costing us more than the decent healthcare would.

Politicians babble about the breakdown of the family. Yo, bozos how about the breakdown of the public services which support families, there’s a problem you can fix.

I say let’s do it right, build a 200-bed hospital with subacute and skilled nursing beds in it. Take the speech therapists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and rehabilitation staff from the Fairmont Hospital and use them to optimize function and independence in all patients before discharge. Make the mission of the hospital to make all patients and families independent and functional. If we become the place medical problems can be heard and addressed we can start to fix our county’s disintegrated social services. You cannot cure people without caring for them and we should build a hospital that let’s us do just that.

Fairmont Hospital at Night

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Fairmont Hospital at Dusk

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Fairmont Hospital Late in the Day

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Bye Lara!

Boo Hoo. Lara Bice-Sim Supervisor Keith Carson's healthcare point person is leaving for wetter climates and a lucky man. Lara's work in Carson's has helped the Medical Center immeasurably. She's beautiful, smart, ethical and kind. She will be so missed.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Highland Outside the ED

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Treat’em and Street’em

Layoffs, reorgs, heat waves, crime waves and well, PMS. Is it just me, or is the planet getting warmer? Oakland and Highland have gotten hot enough, somebody please turn up the air and the funding. Did you know Sheriff Plummer and Susan Murahishi the County Administrator “bump” into each other over at the Claremont Spa? Seriously, I read it in Bizwoman. Maybe I’ll pop over at lunch and explain the situation to them.

Have our leaders all left town in the interest of personal comfort and safety? What’s up? One of America’s most wanted got killed a block from the hospital in June, over 410 crimes around the hospital so far this year and we get every trauma in Oakland.

How have the County Supervisors responded? Well they want to close the Rehabilitation Hospital at Fairmont. Great that’s helpful. So lets say you get shot and you’re a paraplegic, once we stop the bleeding, who’s going get you a wheel chair and teach you to use it. What about a stroke, shall we send these patients home with a brochure? How about Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Spinal Stenosis and people who get joints replaced?

While San Francisco moves toward comprehensive care, chronic illness management, and prevention, Dave Kears and the County Supes who love him pushing for cost containment at its meanest. All the Medical Center needs is an emergency room and a couple of cots according to Dave. All you need is an emergency room- it’s Dave’s treat’em and street’em healthcare cost containment plan.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Save Our City Land

As you may or may not know local politicos fund their campaigns by sweet deals with developers and public land givaways. State Senator Perata and his loyal servants ( Ignacio De La Fuente, Larry Reid, Jean Quan and Henry Chang) want to sell off Oakland school land and the Oakland waterfront (the Oak to Ninth Development) and the supes want Fairmont Hospital and Highland if they can get it. The greedy bastards also want the Peralta College land over by Laney.

Oaklander's have wised up to the real estate rip-off , a coalition has formed to fight the Oak to Ninth Development. I'm giving them my time and money, so should you.

Here's the link