Identified – one place to trim hospital costs

To the Editor:

About two weeks ago, my friend and business associate, Marsha was complaining of headaches to her husband, and so they went to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital to the E.R. After a wait of about four hours, she was seen by a doctor, given a quick exam, and sent home.

On the following day, her condition was intensifying so much that she returned to the hospital where they kept her for several hours to observe her and, again, sent her home.

Now she not only had headaches, but was having blurred vision. Given that she has had high blood pressure for years, the medical personnel examining her assumed it was related, and perhaps her meds needed to be adjusted. By the third day, she returned to the hospital, too sick to do anything. This time a new face examined her and proclaimed, after looking at some tests, that she had had a stroke. She was kept for a while at the M.V. Hospital and then shuffled off to Boston, at an astronomical cost to both her and our community.

I know things can slip through the cracks. Different doctors or medical workers see things differently. Marcia is a casualty of this and now is having difficulty walking as well as seeing out of her left eye. I look at our hospital. I see that when tests are done, blood work, x-rays, etc. the cost is almost double what it would be off-Island. I look at the facility and see the grand piano sitting in the front foyer; wide expansive hallways with lavish couches and chairs where few will ever sit. I have observed that many jobs are farmed out to off-Island employees. I always thought that when we were raising millions and millions of dollars, that some or all of the jobs would be an opportunity for Islanders employment. Sometimes I feel like the person who invited the vampire into their house.

On the heels of this upset and my thoughts about how we have a “shuttle diplomacy” with M.G.H., to provide us with personnel for the hospital in the summer, a select few to get a rotation to the Vineyard. We are not a Petri dish for the medical community.

To attend an appointment early Tuesday, I left the Island Monday afternoon on the 5 o’clock boat and got on the Woods Hole parking lot shuttle. A gentleman wearing a blue windbreaker got on the bus with many others. The logo on the front said Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

He talked and joked with another passenger about work and was laughing along when I spoke up and said, “Excuse me, what do you do at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital?” He immediately replied, “As little as possible” and proceeded to laugh along with several others who either worked with him or knew him quite well.

I interrupted again and said, “Quite frankly sir, what is your job at the Hospital?” Now in a more sober attitude, he replied, “I’m an administrator,” and then he looked away and made some quiet small talk with his friends, and I thanked him for his reply. As we arrived in the back lot, we both got out at the same area, and I watched him get into a new black Lexus sedan and drive off toward the gate.

Every year we hear about how the hospital loses money from either visitors who don’t pay or our community of less fortunate who don’t have money to pay for services. We refuse no one, in the the true sense of the Hippocratic oath. I am proud of that. There is no price tag on human life nor on people’s dignity. The core of doctors who have been here for years and have carried over from the “old hospital” are still plugging away at our needs, along with all their new criteria and protocols set forth by M.G.H.

Does the emperor have any clothes on here? Are we just to pretend that it’s all okay? I am sickened by the fact that an adult in his fifties would chance to respond to my question about what he did at the hospital with such cavalier abandon and unprofessional demeanor. I would bet we are paying for his windbreaker, his boat ticket, his parking space in Wood’s Hole and probably his car if it’s leased, as well as gas. If there is fat to be trimmed from the budget to make ends meet, how about we start here and now and refuse to allow bad service and attitude, because there is no other alternative.

My friend Marsha is a small casualty. The fellow on the shuttle bus, his ticket was free, we paid for it with our trust. There is no answer to be found here, other than we need to stop taking this type of service as all we have available to us and demand that dead weight administrators get removed.

Is there any intelligent life out there to guide this ship before we all sink into a failed experiment on the part of a huge medical concern from far away? Change begins with one person. Who’s next?

Tom Weatherall

West Tisbury