Don’t look Ethel……I heard from a reader last week that was very unhappy because I was writing the truth about Newt Gingrich. Gee, I’m sorry if you accidentally read something you didn’t agree with. Please don’t do that. It might make you have an open mind.
If you want to only read or hear about things you agree with, watch Fox News. I might corrupt your mind.
But my faith has been restored….Right after hearing from the right wingnut who doesn’t want to hear anything bad about any Republicans, I noticed in the “Star’s” on-line poll on our website that the majority of those voting (54%) think U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from voting on the healthcare issue since his wife works for the Heritage Foundation and they have been so vocal against Obamacare. I now believe there are a lot of people in Fort Bend who are paying attention.
Chasing rabbit trails….After I heard a rumor that Oak Bend Hospital CEO Joe Freudenberger took a HUGE bonus after receiving $2 million from the George Foundation due to the hospital’s shortfall, I talked to a bunch of people on the board at the hospital, including Joe himself, and determined that the rumor was untrue. I was relieved because I was all set to scamper over to the next board meeting to see if its members stayed awake during the meetings. I was worried that I couldn’t.
Anyway, I think I tracked down the reason for the rumor. Joe makes $271,000 salary each year, and one year (yes, it was a year when the George Foundation kicked in $2 million) he set aside about $700,000 for employee bonuses. Since he is an employee and there are some very specific criteria to meet to receive bonuses, Joe met them and received $64,000 that year. Add that to his salary and you get $335,000, just a little over the rumored total bonus he was thought to have received. Mystery solved.
And for those questioning the large salary Joe Freudenberger receives, it is about right for a hospital system the size of Oak Bend.
Make no mistake about it. Oak Bend is a large hospital system. It is no longer that little old hospital across the river. It has several satellite locations, included a new multi-million expansion on U.S. 59.
And most importantly for the people of Fort Bend, Oak Bend carries the largest proportion of uninsured patients in Fort Bend. Thank God for Oak Bend because Fort Bend, unlike many large metropolitan and suburban areas, does not have a hospital district whereby everybody pays taxes to support a county hospital. In Fort Bend, our elected officials (yeah, County Commissioners, I’m talking about you) won’t spend a penny that would increase the tax rate unless it will help one of their fat cat friends. Unfortunately most poor people without medical insurance don’t make large campaign contributions.
So inevitably, Oak Bend, along with the help of the George Foundation, pay for most of the sick people in Fort Bend without health insurance. The rest of them work for the county.
I think the spate of whistle blowing about Oak Bend was precipitated by the recent resignation of several long-time and well-respected employees.
And it could be that the current CEO is a micro-manager who is having some internal problems. He has made himself the CFO and has taken over the hospital advertising decisions himself.
When I asked him about the hospital’s recent decision to discontinue contributions to its employees’ 401K plans, Mr. Freudenberger told me those were cut in the 4th quarter of 2011 in order to “fund our indigent care mission.” Joe told me that the hospital’s uninsured patient load has risen to 20% and cost $14 million. Perhaps by taking over some of the jobs himself, the hospital can save enough to reinstate 401K contributions, raises, and bonuses.
When I asked him if he had fully informed the hospital employees about the cutbacks, he couldn’t remember and admitted that might be part of the problem. “Maybe I assumed they knew,” he said.
I’ll say it again: Thank God for Oak Bend. I can forgive them a lapse in attention or judgement because I feel that they do God’s work and have for many years. And this is not to slight other hospitals in Fort Bend who also take charity patients. Oak Bend takes more charity cases in relation to their total patient load than the other hospitals.
Whistleblowers!…The “Star” occasionally gets information from “whistleblowers” who report to us dishonest or illegal activities occurring in a public or private organization, company or governmental department. The misconduct reported is usually a threat to the public interest, or health or safety violations or just outright corruption.
Going to the media is a
a common way to blow the whistle and the “Star” never reveals its sources.
Whistle blowing is a long tradition in the United States as it was protected from way back in 1863 and called the United States False Claims Act. It was a way to root out fraud by suppliers of the U.S. government during the Civil War and even promised a percentage of the money recovered.
So while the “Star” has a long history of exposing government waste or misconduct, I wanted to take this opportunity to remind our readers that we investigate every claim that looks like it needs to be investigated. Don’t hesitate to e-mail or call us about things that need to be looked at.
The Supremes…..I don’t know exactly what the Supreme Court did about the redistricting but when I asked, I was directed to the story in the Washington Post. See it here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/todays_paper/A%20Section/2012-01-10/A/3/34.1.4025511379_epaper.html
See, that’s the trouble with web sites. The URL is too long! I still don’t understand it enough to write about it.
What fun…..We went to a new place (for us) last week called Fuji Hana. It’s in the Fountains shopping center and it’s wonderful! It’s like Benihana but better. The food is great; you get a great show at your table (my grandkids love it!) and it’s cheaper. Not only does it have the table hibachi service, but it also has table service in case you want to order from the extensive menu. Try it and you’ll be hooked.