Today we'll discuss our village-owned Memorial Hospital (proud motto: "We Heal. We Listen. We Gave Away $250,000 to Our Golfing Buddies Over at the Broadmoor and Now Have to Lay Off Nurses and Other Employees Because We're Broke. Oh Yeah, and We Care.")
We'll begin with a lovely personal tale from a few weeks back, in which a complete stranger at the new Memorial Hospital North shoved a balloon up my nose.
I would like to tell you this was a complex medical procedure performed by doctors to stem a rather severe nosebleed. But the truth is, I'd dozed off in the waiting room, and when I awakened one of those roving balloon-animal artists was laughing and running away. (The guy snoozing next to me had a giraffe in one nostril and a funny hat in the other.)
No, really, the thing up my nose was a medical balloon of some sort, and its placement was indeed an actual medical procedure known as letus seum how farupem wei kan gettus theis thingus. I was a bit groggy and couldn't completely make out the nametag, but the guy who performed the procedure was either an RN (registered nurse), LPN (licensed practical nurse) or a GWCGIBAC (Guy Who Couldn't Get Into Balloon Animal College).
I do know it was a Saturday night and there was no doctor within shouting distance. I was reassured by the hospital staff, however, that an actual doctor was "on call" and could, thanks to modern cellphone technology, be back from Aruba within two weeks.
(Here you might be wondering what any of this has to do with Memorial's planned layoffs. You also might be wondering where this story is going. I would respond simply by saying, "Me, too.")
Anyway, as the nice man was preparing the snout balloon, I asked, nervously, what it would feel like. His actual words: "Like I'm putting a watermelon up your nose."
As I was making a mental note to not invite this guy to our Fourth of July picnic, he inserted the balloon. It went quickly past the placeum reche phingerus ("place where a finger can reach") and into my sinus cavity, and then the balloon continued upward, past and then above my left eye, settling somewhere into my brain region. (Fortunately, as all of my loyal readers are quite aware, there's enough empty space in my head to park an SUV. Sarah Palin has room for a Boeing 747, which will soon depart for the country of Africa.)
Then the medical person inflated the balloon. This was done with an expensive medical device that resembled a bicycle tire pump right down to the way he held it on the floor with his feet and the way the word "Schwinn" was written on the side.
Within a few minutes, the nosebleed stopped. But the balloon stayed up there for two days. My eyes watered and my head ached and when I tried to sleep on that side of my face, the balloon squeaked and startled me. What I'm trying to say is that the entire experience was still better than working for the Gazette.
Here now and only because I can see the bottom of the page approaching faster than Doug Bruce at a Desperate Russian Bride Festival is the point: The balloon procedure took 35 seconds, and the bill came to $394. This was followed by 20 minutes of people dropping by to hand me a tissue and ask how I felt. (My best answer was, "Like there's a giant wicker basket hanging out of my nose, along with Dorothy and her little dog, too." Then they tacked another $65 onto my bill in the category marked "Wasting our Time.")
Memorial even made an appointment for me to have the balloon taken out. The bill for that follow-up visit was $873.
OK, so Dick Eitel, the chump who ran the hospital until recently, gave The Broadmoor, where his father was the longtime president, $250,000 of the city-owned hospital's money and mismanaged the hospital into the dirt. Now Larry McEvoy, the CEO who replaced Eitel and got a huge raise, to more than half a million dollars a year, says, "We may need to eliminate some positions."
I would suggest eliminating the most common position the one in which the patients and the city council that allegedly oversees the hospital are ordered to bend over.