Monday, September 15, 2014
The Nueces County Commissioner’s Court voted 4 to 1 to demolish Memorial Hospital. County Commissioner Oscar Ortiz voted against.
Since the opening on the discussion on the matter County Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez (JAG) appeared to many to be both quisling and selling out the interests of the majority of his constituency – from the simple people of the Westside (God’s pocket) to the interests of the disabled Veteran, from the invalids and sickly elderly to the honest taxpayer. He not only voted with the POWERFUL against the WEAK, but smirkly pontificated (as if subconsciously desiring to visibly flaunt his callous apostasy) about why he felt he knew what was better for them than they themselves. Metaphorically speaking, his head had ballooned and he appeared to be speaking from heights of political delusion not practical reality. But a simple pin awaited that would pierce his flatulency and fabricated airs back to mother earth – the pin from God’s pocket.
The simple people of the Westside crowd present stood in the shadows of the room – as they always have in the past and in the present. They (who rarely leave the pocket of their barrio) had left their trabajo (work), their familias (families) and hijos (children) somewhere else to be there and follow their team to the courthouse as their parents before them had followed the late Dr. Hector P. Garcia and other bona fide leaders. This time they were there to see their “hero” and “representative” Commissioner Joe A. Gonzalez (JAG) who has marketed himself as “Commissioner 24/7” defend their collective voice and confidently fight for the preservation of el hospital de la gente (the People’s Hospital). Instead Commissioner JAG flipped and willowed and then hopped like un conejito to the other side – that is, the enemy’s. He defected and betrayed and paraded his pro-establishment credentials before them and broke their Corazon (heart) as they saw him try to rationalize the act of violence and slaughter being considered against their community. JAG meat-axed, bulldozed, bullied with his insensitive airs the very thought of saving Memorial Hospital. Sadly, he glorified the cause of greedy builders with ubiquitous claws and so-called economic scientists with gory bloodshot eyes who wanted to shell the Westside like a past war had done to Iraq. Because to those in power saw them – los del Westide (from the Westside) -- as unimportant. “JAG had crossed the tracks and forgotten his roots like the typical politico sin palabra (who does not keep his word),” David Noyola chatted with the troops.
The late Dr. Hector P. Garcia was no longer with them – only JAG who had made promises to keep the spirit of Dr. Hector P. Garcia alive. But JAG or “Commissioner 24/7” was no longer one of them – uno de ellos. He dashed their dreams and hopes of the little people, and then “like a puppy dog” (as one observer put it) sycophanted to Political Boss Al Jones (who stood prominently in the room) and to the marching orders of County Judge Loyd Neal. And Neal from his elevated chair seemed to be looking down on them as if from a balcony as if billowing his coldness, insensitivity for the people of God’s Pocket and urging on JAG to approve the shelling of a sacred building worth 30 million (owned by the taxpayers) on God’s pocket.
But the voice of righteousness and accountability struck from thin air aimed at JAG’s apostacy. “Tu no eres uno de nosotros ya” (“You are not one of us anymore,” responded former County Commissioner David Noyola from the audience as he held on tightly to his medical device, “You do not live on the Westside I do. You don’t represent the interests even partially of esta comunidad (the community). You have no idea what they want.” Commissioner JAG’s eyes filled with panic and tried to make a comeback but stumbled as traitors to their cause often do when disappointed young and old eyes stare straight at their hearts and disingenuous souls. JAG tried to justify the turning over of public land, property owned by taxpayers, to a Corporate giant -- Christus Spohn -- for slaughter. But JAG, as Dr. Hector P. Garcia’s daughter Cecilia Akers who had made a trip from her home in San Antonio, had forgotten the resounding truism of the founder of the GI Forum: “ OPPRESSION AND VIOLENCE AGAINST MY PEOPLE CAN NEVER BE JUSTIFIED.”
Attorney Rene Flores (a native of the Westside) spoke in the audience section. He and others condemned the madness and reckless urgency of attempting to move Memorial Hospital’s resources to Spohn Shoreline – adding, it was in the direct path of a hurricane and the site was inconvenient and congested with traffic. Community activist Ray Madrigal (and former candidate for Governor) also followed challenging the Board of Spohn and their socially distant CEO Pam Robertson to invest its millions in building a new hospital not on congested, sardined shoreline but in the heart of Corpus Christi where Memorial sits. The crowd applauded as many realized the authenticity and idealness in their dream of dreams. But the pleas from residents of God’s pocket had been puffed into a distant sea by the callous and insensitive agenda of County Judge Loyd Neal and commissioners Mike Pusley and Joe McComb and the quisler JAG 24/7.
Then the final vote came from the commissioners: 4 to 1 voted to wisp away the health needs and concerns of the “little people” into a distant sea. These outsiders had their own plan. Commissioner Ortiz stood as the sole vote of dissent. For Commisioner Ortiz, was not a big-headed boob like JAG, and had taken the normative stares of the people from God’s Pocket earnestly.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Whether it is at birth, sometime in between or at the end of life, at some point you or someone in your family will need health care. And when that time comes, you want the very best for Grandma, Grandpa, Mom and Dad, yourself and your children.
In 1942, the Baptist Foundation donated approximately 18.5 acres of land for the construction of a hospital facility to address the health care needs of Nueces County. In 1944, Nueces County taxpayers built Memorial Hospital. In 1946, and 1952 the taxpayers of Nueces County invested again in Memorial Hospital by expanding services and adding beds and in 1964, a second building adjacent to Memorial Hospital was constructed and the name was changed to Memorial Medical Center.
In 1967, at the recommendation of esteemed County Judge, Robert Barnes, the taxpayers of Nueces County collectively invested in health care in a special election by creating the Nueces County Hospital District to oversee county health care services. This action included the creation of the Hospital District Board of Managers to manage the investment for the Taxpayer and the authorization, by law, to levy an ad valorem tax.
The revenue generated by the self-imposed ad valorem tax has made it possible to expand, renovate, and/or re-equip MMC in 1975, 1982, 1989, and 1993 representing millions of investment dollars by the taxpayers of Nueces County. As a result of this investment, Nueces County taxpayers today rely on a hospital complex easily accessible from all parts of the county and neighboring counties as well as a Trauma 2 Level designation.
This investment by the taxpayers has yielded positive returns for 70 years. No other hospital in Nueces County can make this claim. Keep in mind, the taxpayer has always owned the County Hospital. Why would you, the Taxpayer, want to give away this kind of investment to a corporation with a corporate office in Dallas, Texas?
The recent proposal by Christus Spohn to demolish the County Hospital on Morgan and move all services to their Shoreline unit has sparked controversy throughout Nueces County and the neighboring communities.
The Hospital District Board is almost ready to send the proposal to demolish the County Hospital to the Commissioner’s Court for a final vote and their stamp of approval and for all practical purposes it will be a “done deal” as has been predicted from the onset. But is it really a “done deal” or can Nueces County voters reverse the devastation that will result if indeed a corporation is handed our tax dollars to spend on expansion of their physical plant which is in the direct path of potential hurricanes and gas releasing accidents at the refineries? Do we really want patients to breathe the black dust from refinery row or to be ill and in the direct path of a destructive hurricane?
Why would we allow a corporation to demolish our investment, abscond with ad valorem tax revenues and relocate the Level 2 Trauma Center to their Shoreline unit? Should the medical health care of a community be determined by 5 men and a corporation? As taxpayers, we must protect our investment. If the County Commissioners Court wants to give away an investment paid for by the taxpayer, then the taxpayer should have a voice in the decision. This can only be done by putting this issue to a vote. The Commissioner’s Court should call for an election in lieu of the taxpayers having to petition the Court for a vote.
Instead of talking about demolishing MMC and naming a clinic after a local civil rights leader, let’s talk about reclaiming our investment and ending all agreements with Christus Spohn, and using our local tax money to build a first class medical/teaching campus and upgrading the Level 2 Trauma Center to a Level 1. Let us make Corpus Christi/Nueces County the place to go to for quality health care.
Instead of giving away our investment, let’s talk about creating a teaching medical hospital facility campus to meet the present and future needs of Nueces County and the Coastal Bend communities in the areas of medical services, JOBS and higher educational opportunities in the affiliated medical health science fields. Health care is one of the fastest growing industries in South Texas and encourages the growth of affiliated medical services.
A teaching medical hospital facility campus would consist of:
1) MMC Hospital with a free standing 24-hour Clinic. Ambulance cases will go directly to ER, and a Clinic triage will determine if the patient needs to go to ER or whether they can make an appointment to return to the clinic the next day.
2) Specialty Rehabilitation Hospital for Veterans and patients continuing to need critical medical care and rehabilitation services after being released from the hospital and/or ICU. The Veterans Specialty Rehabilitation Hospital will include an outpatient dialysis center. South Texas does not have a Veterans Hospital and research reflects that 98% of veterans need specialty care rather than hospital care. Corpus Christi does not have an outpatient dialysis clinic for patients that use a trach for breathing assistance and g-tube for nutrition.
3) An affiliated medical health science educational component includes Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Respiratory Therapy, Physician’s Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Social Workers, EMTs, Intern/Resident programs, etc. At the present time, TXAMU-CC, TAMUK, DelMar, Moody High School, and area businesses are spending lots of money focusing on affiliated and medical health science professions training programs and degrees. An affiliated medical health science educational component would provide students and interns/residents with a place to obtain a certification or degree(s), practice public health and complete their clinical practicum programs while providing support to the medical services at the MMC campus and other medical facilities in and around the Coastal Bend.
4) Chronic Health Diseases/Diabetic Clinic with a fitness center. If we as a community want to decrease the incidence of chronic health diseases and diabetes in our community and save lives and money we must invest in a clinic, fitness center and educational facility to achieve the goal.
The tipping point is NOW…..As residents of Nueces County, are we willing to continue to tax ourselves and support a bond program to build a world class medical/educational facility here in Corpus Christi? Are we willing to demand that our County Hospital not be downgraded to a Clinic? Or will we stand by while the Commissioner’s Court approves the demolition of our county hospital and gives our tax dollars to a corporation whose home office isn’t even in Corpus Christi?
-- ALICIA GALLEGOS GOMEZ