Tuesday, December 16, 2014

the good old days

There was a time not too long ago when the sawmill was a happy place, perhaps led a bit toward the productivity side but there were parties and lunches with the CEO and whatnot. An investment in the community if you will. That is what was promised when the huge Methodist Healthcare System sold our West Tennessee seven in 2003. We are among the top three largest and it would have been "no sale" without our local facility in the deal. We were actually making money whereas several of the smaller ones were glorified emergency rooms. They owned the one in Fulton before us, and announced that it will close in early '15. As a (non)investor, I get emails about divesting this or that property and all of its' employees. The one in Newport AR was a recent subject. I don't know about y'all but I take divest to mean "we're done with you people." The land grab that has been healthcare growth over the past 20 years has been based more on diagnosis than healing and has caused many a local place to shut down. They have put a lot of money into the facility and have a brand spanking new MRI scanner and invasive cardiac cath lab for which two administrators fought. We are nothing more than a ham and pie to corporate. I'm not saying this in a mean way really...just stating the obvious that those who want to heal and make sick people better will allow room for dignity amongs't the current business climate. I can personally name a hundred of them.

I am a multitasker by nature, due to an extremely high level of co-dependence with that job. I was raised to believe that when you do a job well and the cream will rise to the top. That's where the "when bad things happen to tired people" comes in. I look around me every day and see people who have been there as long as I have and in some cases longer and we all have the same look. Burnout is common in hospitals and other emergency type work situations. First responders are particularly prone to PTSD. I saw that experience through my daughter's eyes as she told me about finding the wreck lady all laying on the highway not moving. Anything traumatic..any sort of loss of innocence can set one up for a rapid spiral into hell as it is grieved and let go.

The first promise that was broken happened to be the chaplain one and he was outta' there in no time replaced by local community volunteers. A core group of us had been schooled on IT conversion from one system to another over a four month period. I was told later that normally the IT company did installs but since it was such a huge deal they used employees and yes I was one of them. My friend was our only internet person so there we went to Jackson and wrote code and attached numbers along with reps from all the other newly acquired facilities. The company came in and tried to reign in the chaos from "superusers" and very confused employees. As with all things healthcare the transition had to be validated to meet standards. Honest to god, I had to get legal involved in order to get our population's blood type history from MHC. You know, HIPPA and all that. Yeah, we know what a miracle you are.

This is cathartic for me in that I've been there done it all with healthcare ownership and policy. What started for me as a job close to home has turned into a building full of stress and overwork at the age of 59 with a bad shoulder and touch and go parents, close to home BTW. I don't ask for any kind of recognition for what I've done because that's not what life is about. Anonymity is what's up when doing the next right thing. Just ask anybody in line at McDonald's or Chick Fil'A. If strangers can buy each other breakfast, and feel good I'm down with it. Maybe someday the owners will pay their employees a living wage.

As you all know some anonymous angel of a blog fairy took me to raise a couple of years ago. There have been times when I've felt sure I know his or her identity but it's been hard because the postmarks are from every freakin' where. While I was being surprised with gifts and things that I really needed somebody got the joy of watching the story unfold and didn't take credit for it. I imagine it's a big warm fuzzy feeling like a Hallmark movie or something. I'm damned sure that bitch who clicked her boots at me yesterday wasn't the one.

I remembered my passion for hospice today when I ran into a friend whose father is on the roller coaster like mama was. Once an elderly patient enters the healthcare system there is a huge network of Medicare days vs. non-Medicaid expansion ( yes that means you Haslam) and you have facilities that rehab them for a few weeks and toss them back into the home to ER cycle. That's where the $$ is, especially if you have a supplement. My parents have both and mom has used up her "days" for a bit until she has respite time. Alrighty then. I can certainly tell I won't have a place to go. That's why I plan to live in a commune in Virginia like EK Ross.


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