This is a very small community of little scattered mini-towns here in the mountains. Total population of this roughly 400 square miles is about 12,500 people. Each area has at least one health clinic with a doctor or 3, and the entire area is serviced by one hospital.
This hospital is huge, with about 100 patient beds and all sorts of buildings and building extensions and lots and lots of fancy equipment that was bought with money provided for free by the hospital’s thrift store, which is located in a separate town from the hospital. The hospital provides far more services than this little population can use, but which the doctors can charge big money for, anytime someone does have a real or falsely prescribed “need” for some of that fancy free equipment.
The thing is, it’s also in an earthquake zone and now the state is demanding that parts of it be demolished and rebuilt to withstand earthquakes, and the hospital wants all of us land and home owners to pay for it, every year for the next 40 years. Certainly those doctors don’t want to part with any of their own paychecks to pay for their hospital. The hospital was built originally with public money and therefor is publicly owned, but the administrators have been lining their own pockets ever since instead of setting aside funds for the earthquake refitting they damn well knew was going to have to happen.
But no, they wanted the fancy toys that made more money for them instead, and just figured that when the state forced them to refit or quit, they’d panic us residents into paying for it. After all, it is the only hospital around. The next nearest ones are in Bakersfield an hour’s drive away.
Our community is slowly dying. Most of the homes here are mobile homes built 40 to 50 years ago, and not in the best of shape. Meth addiction is very high here and two outlying communities are almost “no-go” areas because almost all the residents are either meth or heroin addicts. Needless to say, their incomes are way below poverty level. There’s no industry, the majority of residents are retired on low, fixed incomes, and that’s the money that supports the businesses. In summer, tourism increases because of lake fishing and river rafting, but it’s not much. So there’s no new construction. No new homes, no new people.
I’ve communicated with a spokesperson for this hospital, and the responses clearly indicate a total lack of concern for the poverty of most residents. They have an island of wealth in our midst, they get people to volunteer to work in the hospital doing various odd nursing and cleaning jobs as well as manning the front desk and gift shop while charging lots of money for the services of the doctors and nurses. What a gold mine for them.
So when they tell us that they want us to pay for the rebuilding work that they should have been putting money aside for all these years, I tell them that they’re arrogant and inconsiderate and that they’ve mismanaged our money for their own benefit without regard for us. Doctors today are conceited asses. I stopped liking them when they stopped making house calls. Boy, that was sure a better time.