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Sunday, December 23, 2007

No Mike King: You're Out of Touch

Here is the latest column by AJC columnist Mike King.

It takes a special kind of arrogance for the Fulton-Dekalb County Hospital Authority to stiff Emory and Morehouse medical schools out of $63 million and then demand the schools keep sending doctors to Grady Memorial Hospital. As a condition of turning over the hospital to professional management, the authority demanded that Emory and Morehouse give a written guarantee they will continue their residency and teaching programs at Grady. The money for those programs comes almost entirely from the state and federal governments, but the Grady board has kept much of it in recent years to use for other expenses. The hospital's mismanagement is now threatening the quality of on-the-job training both schools offer. It's one thing to ask Emory and Morehouse to renegotiate the debt, which both have said they are willing to do. But demanding it, as well as a promise that they won't cut back their programs, reveals how truly out of touch with reality the authority can be.

Now, really quickly, here is a run down for those that haven't been following this story. He is speaking of Grady Hospital, which is one of the largest hospitals in the country. It services the poor and is in such dire financial shape that it needs somewhere in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars to stay afloat. Emory and Morehouse provide much of the staff at the hospital (with Emory providing most between the two) and each university gets paid for providing the staff. According to King, Grady wants to not only be relieved of their yearly obligations but they insist that each university's staff remain on duty. Grady is a public hospital so ultimately it is "owned" by the folks. Lastly, and this is quite important, Grady is designed for the very poor or indigent, and by its sheer size it services almost all of the poor folks in Fulton, Dekalb and frankly many other counties. Without it, all the nice hospitals that treat wealthy folks in the area would have to treat these poor folks as well.

Now, I won't argue that arrogance is a trait exhibited by several folks in this mess, however if this is what he is focused on, he really is out of touch. First of all, there are plenty of people out there that believe that Emory and Morehouse should be paying Grady for use of their hospital, not the other way around. (for a full summary on this story including an explanation why Emory and Morehouse should be paying please follow this link) Thus, by demanding that staff continue to work without payment, seems, to many, only fair. Second of all, Grady is near financial collapse and it may take up to half a billion dollars in order to save it. Given that staggering figure, is the important point really whether someone is asking or demanding that debts be forgiven. After all, if Grady needs half a billion dollars, Emory and Morehouse can get in line with a plethora of creditors.

Ah, but unlike most creditors, Grady expects, not asks, these two to continue providing services. Of course, they expect that Emory and Morehouse staff continue to work. Emory and Morehouse account for almost the entire staff. Without them there is no hospital. Without Grady, the poor in Fulton and Dekalb have no place to be treated. If Grady is no longer the whole entire medical system in Fulton, Dekalb and beyond is in serious crisis. (Without Grady some of the hospitals for the affluent would actually have to treat these folks and no one can have that now can they)

Second Emory and Morehouse need Grady a lot more than the other way around. First, Grady is a public hospital so it really belongs to the people. If the folks want it kept open, they WILL infuse it with cash one way or the other. On the other hand, Morehouse uses Grady for nearly all of its medical school and residency training. In other words, without Grady there is no Morehouse medical school. Emory maintains several for profit hospitals however the bulk of their training is also conducted at Grady. Furthermore, Grady is the main selling point to perspective Emory medical students. Grady is one of the biggest hospitals in the country and the world, and going to Emory medical school allows perspective medical students to train there. In other words, without Grady, there is not Morehouse medical school. While there is an Emory medical school, it goes from being an elite school, to the equivalent of EastWest Texas State Community College Medical School. (please, no one be offended, I made the school up but we all know that the more words before and after the State in question the worse the school is)

Thus, of course the powers that be at Grady expect that debt not only be forgiven but that staff continue to work. They hold all the power.Given all this we can see why they are so arrogant, but frankly this is all besides the main point anyway. King's piece is frankly most atrocious, in my opinion, because it focuses on side issues like demands over requests. King refuses to examine why Grady insists on going private and how that will impact the hospital and the tax payers. (Fortunately, you can count on this blogger to give you the straight scoop on all issues related to Grady and their plan for going private is just one of those issue. So for more info on the plan to go private please click here) By focusing on the arrogance of a group that has frankly shown nothing but arrogance for more than a decade, he really shows a total lack of understand of the issue.

The issue isn't whether or not some people are arrogant. They are and it matters very little, except to explain past, current and likely future behavior. The issue is what to do going forward. It appears obvious to me at least, that the reason the powers that be want to go private is so that their malfeasance can be even more easily hidden. Yet, that possibility isn't even mentioned. In fact, Mike King contributes absolutely nothing of substance to a debate that should be at the front of most Georgians' minds. It should be the AJC leading on this story. It isn't. In fact, if I am right, the AJC is actively participating in the corruption. That may explain why King's only contribution to this debate so far is well, so lame.

Finally, I have heard from the grapevine that Ron Marshall, of the Grady Coalition, wrote a piece that was supposed to counter King's in the AJC, and the AJC refused to publish it. No such refusals will be here. Here is Marshall's piece...

It does not surprise me that Grady voted to go private. This has been in the plan to privatize all major funding resources in America to control how money is being spent and who receives it. Look at Iraq, since when do we hire a private force to protect public interest? This has never happen in the history of war. Who benefits from privatization?

Grady changes have started the wheel of genocide. A whole community will parish (poor people and poor accident victims) in the name of profits. Not to mention the land deals that will be made. We have put a price on human life. Not only have we put a price on the life of an individual we allow the health care system to pick and choose who get’s treated and how much treatment they as humans receive. Animals get treated better than people. Throw a dog in the street and see what happens.

Our Governor had the nerve to pray for rain. The prayers should be for humanity as well as for the salvation of human life and for the protection of our planet. Now we have really fallen off the path of survival.What’s still hidden in all of this is how did this happen and who is responsible for what happen. This has never been asked. If it has there sure has been very little said about the accountability of the officials who oversee Grady and the official who appoint the board that put Grady in this position. Why is the public being deniedaccess to records that will show where all the money went or is going and who is receiving it? This is not new and it seems to happen like the migration of geese heading south every year.

Only one person was sent to prison for stealing from Grady, Charles Walker. Walker did not steal all that money by himself. He had to have help. Somebody signed the checks and somebody got paid to keep it quiet. Why wasn’t there an investigationconducted to find the accomplices. This is like a private (secret) Mafia, they sacrificed one to save the rest. I notice Walker has not turned on his accomplices. Is there money waiting for him when he is released?Is having cover-up money pay for a pass as Emory has shown. They have clearly had their way with Grady’s funding with a sweet heart contract. Does being a politician automatically give you a pass when crisis’s after crisis’s shock after shock that cost tax payers millions without having them be accountable time after time.

Now we had an explosion in south Georgia and Grady no other but Grady is in the front again. The needs are clear, human lives are at stake. Is there no other real time event that shows Grady at its best.So to feel anything is like watching killings and brutality between 6-11pm live on the news or a television program. You get use to it. The fight for justice and accountability has only hit a bump in the road, we must be protectors of justice and righteousness and we will accelerate ahead of corruption. Buckle-Up.

Many of the things he says have also been said here. It's too bad that Marshall needs my blog in order to get his message out. You can contact the AJC here about any of the plethora of issues I have raised.

(Update)I realize that anyone that tries to pick up the story of the crisis at Grady Hospital is likely to get lost in its many mazes. Thus, if this story is your first exposure to it, it is likely you have dumbfounded look on your face. Thus, I have put together a summary of the entire fiasco that tries to put all of its moving parts together in one piece. Please read it for guidance. Then, the dumbfounded look will be removed. Also, please check out the recommendations that I and my colleagues have put together for fixing Grady Hospital.

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