Recently Kendall Regional Medical Center initiated the application process to be given the right to operate a trauma center under its hospital. The Miami Herald reported on 04/16/10 (1) that Kendall Regional released the following statement “Supported by data that shows that Miami-Dade/Monroe counties need additional trauma services and the ever growing challenges that traffic and congestion pose in our community, Kendall Regional Medical Center has submitted an application to open a trauma center at their campus in West Miami-Dade County”. Jackson Memorial Health System and the University of Miami have opposed this move. The reason is that Ryder Trauma center, at Jackson staffed largely by UM doctors, is the only trauma center in the county. Trauma centers generally speaking treat patients suffering from burns, gunshot and knife wounds, automobile accidents, etc. The opening of a trauma center in Kendall, a suburban traffic heavy and wealthy area, would inevitably drain the patients who have insurance from Ryder. This would lead to an excess of uninsured trauma victims at Jackson, and less financial stability in the long term.
Financial instability for Jackson is bad for everyone in Miami-Dade county. Moves by private hospitals to siphon off the insured and wealthy patients from Jackson’s health centers have put the public health system under intense strain. As the system is pushed to its limits by attempting to care for all people in Miami-Dade without corresponding fiscal support has led to a break down that ultimately will either result in service shortages or decreasing quality of care. If Jackson loses its ability to care for the indigent, all other local health systems will feel the strain. So we are stuck with a situation where we either irrationally ship people to only one centralized location for trauma services, or we contribute to the further downgrading of real patient care at hospitals in Miami-Dade (of which Kendall is infamous for anyway amongst healthcare workers).
This is part of the irrationality of an economy run on profit and competition without concern for long term viability, health, or humanity. Isolated businesses and profiting individuals will consistently assert their self-interest, even if that means self-destruction in the long run. By taking away any real democracy and decision making from the workers and communities that have to live with their decisions, the economy is unable to see the cliff it is careening down the tracks towards. While the employers, bureaucrats, planners, and financiers throw up their arms in confusion, the failures are painfully obvious for the health care workers and patients. The solution is obscured by the seeming inevitability of this way of life. The solution lies in breaking the link between our needs and the profiteering of an ever shrinking minority. Whether or not we have health care services or not shouldn’t be a matter of wealth or location, but of the need. Likewise funding shouldn’t be about an apartheid system of different service for the rich and poor, but an equitable contribution by all for all. We need common ownership by the community and workplace control by the health care workers who understand best how to care for patients. Our demand for quality care shouldn’t end at access, but begin at it. We need to start organizing collectively to demand that democratic control be wrested out of the hands of the wealthy investors, corporations that profit off illness, and their allied state agencies and officials. Only then will we be able to reverse the irrationality of a system pitted against itself.