The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Hospital System on Life Support

Apr 16, 2007

In a suburb of Washington D.C., the Prince Georges County hospital system of three hospitals and two nursing homes is threatening to close by June of this year. As in the past, management says it is approaching bankruptcy.

The hospital system is managed by a private company that was brought in with expectations that it would keep the money-losing system running. If management can be paid, and doctors and insurance companies and pharmaceutical suppliers can be paid, there is money for health care available. Perhaps this whole announcement is a pressure tactic by the company to get the county to come up with the 170 million more dollars and the state to come up with another 159 million that officials say is needed.

What does it mean for people in the area, some of whom are the poorest in the region? About 180,000 people, half of whom are uninsured, would have to travel much farther to find treatment. Ambulances would be tied up trying to find somewhere to take patients. More people would die.

In addition, thirty-one hundred trauma patients would put pressure on other overflowing emergency rooms in the D.C. area – not to mention the additional care for 122,000 emergency room visits now taking place at the three hospitals. Thirty-five hundred babies would have to be born elsewhere.

Closing this system would be especially catastrophic for the poor. The threat is proof that our society has little interest in the care of the sick, only in money-making for those at the top.