Yes, it is all about the bottom line. How much can we make? What will our profit be? Quality control is based on cost analysis. How can we exploit that part of the business that is making money and drop that part that isn’t? On and on it goes.
The loyalty is not to the product, not to the service, not to the customer, not even to the company. No, nothing but the bottom line — “money.”
A decision is coming soon from our county-owned hospital board of trustees on which company will be gifted our magnificent, very successful community hospital — and, by the way, recognized as one of the top 50 performing hospitals in the country. So how did this hospital get to be this great? Well, during the last 100 years, it has enjoyed the investment and support of our community through the foundation and, yes, at times tax money.
Most importantly, Munroe Regional Medical Center enjoyed really smart leadership from the administration, hospital board and trustee board who were focused on the medical needs of our community. Certainly, its success was not because someone was looking for a ROI (return on investment). No, they wanted to have a top-performing hospital to serve the community’s needs.
We now risk losing that focus. It may now be about maximizing the ROI. Some may feel it is time to cash in and take the money and run.
There are abundant examples of the negative effect on communities and corporations when companies or government-owned assets were sold or taken over by domestic and foreign investors who were eager for more profit. Many of you may know of a company that was sold, closed and all assets moved to another country to produce the product, only to return the finished product to our consumer markets.
Right now, we are dealing locally with the horrible results of absentee owners who managed Silver Springs. Another example is chronicled by John DeLorean in his book, “On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors.” I offer a quote from the book: “A man trained and skilled only in financial control, who has no direct operational experience, simply lacks the understanding necessary to run the business.” Most people who have retired here witnessed the decline in quality of our U.S. auto products in the 1970s and ’80s. DeLorean’s fight with GM was over sacrificing quality for profit.
We have listened long enough to the spread sheets. Locally, it has taken its toll on our Sheriff’s Office, our schools, our ability to maintain our roads, our water quality, yes, and our quality of life is at risk. All of this has happened because we have made the spread sheet our holy grail.
Munroe Regional would not exist if these same people had been leading over the past 100 years. Like Oscar Wilde said, “Some people know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”
There comes a time when protecting the quality of life requires investments by everyone. I understand and accept that the community did not want to pay an average of $25 a year to keep Munroe in local control. But now, we are beyond that. Now, it is the time for you to invest your time. Go to the Munroe website, munroeregional.com, click on Board Governance and Strategic Options Work Group. All the documents for this deal are there for your review.
Another website with great information is protecthometownhealthcare.com. Or better yet, attend the workgroup meeting followed by a trustees meeting on Thursday, April 18, at 5 p.m. in the Hospital Auxiliary Building Conference Room. You need to become informed and then grab one of the trustees by the arm and let them know that their decision on which company they will choose needs to be predicated on the same goals and objectives that led Munroe to be what it is today.
Make no mistake, the decision of the trustees will definitely have the potential for job loss. Our local leaders have invested millions of tax dollars to bring jobs here to Marion County, so let’s make sure this deal isn’t a down payment for job loss.
Most of the past deals done by HMA and DukeLife Point groups involved hospitals that were failing and desperate for financial help. That isn’t the case here; this hospital has a huge amount of cash on the balance sheet.
The problem lies with those who use the hospital — poor and uninsured or under-insured. That doesn’t change or go away after the sale, so efficiencies such as “doing away with jobs to increase profits” have to be in the future.
I believe with all my heart my community still wants this hospital to continue to be what every past leader wanted it to be, and that is a top-quality, community-centered hospital. Stop the madness of this focus on the bottom line because I assure you, there is no good outcome to this. All of you reading this should make it a priority to read up on the two final companies that are being considered to receive Munroe. This decision will have a lasting impact on this community.
Real leaders make decisions that reach beyond today and into the future; they make hard choices based on facts that have the best outcome for all concerned.
Let’s all make a commitment to have this be an epiphany moment in our community — to once again start making investments in each other. Really, the time is now!
Mike Sizemore is a retired railroad executive who serves on the Marion County Soil and Water Conservation Board and is a former candidate for the Marion County Commission.