What a perplexing place we live. If we see a map, we can recognize our Island but if we think of our political situation we sometimes can’t recognize it. Our Hospital, yes our hospital, our one and only hospital is set on fire by some poor decisions by some good people. If I am a skilled surgeon and an active CEO and you also want me to be a master politician all at the same time, perhaps you ask too much. There has been a lot of news about the need for proper funding for our hospital. It is way underfunded. It went from $39 million from the central government to just $19 million currently. The costs for running the place has not dropped, it has risen. This lack of funding from the legislature is not a function of the current raises given to the top few; we will get to these later, but a lack of caring on the part of some of our legislators. These are not mean people but in my opinion, very misdirected.
Dear reader, it is expensive to run a hospital, when you are the only medical hospital around which must provide all the medical services. Yes you can be flown off the Island but even then you must be stabilized here at the hospital. So this is it, it better be cherished and it better be available and it better be funded. St Thomas which has the same population has more money from the government then we do. Why! They also have fewer poor people then we do. This should mean more money given here to pay for this unreimbursed care. It is not.
As we know there have been some hefty raises and salaries granted lately. I don’t know whether these are in keeping with other facilities and would like to know if they are commiserate, not with some other state but if they are the same as St. Thomas. While we are considering what we can afford to pay for our top management let us not just beat up our little hospital but let’s ask this same question of our big government. I believe there is currently a movement by some of our elite to create big salaries and money up at the top tier. The ‘worker bees’ are not getting what they deserve in many cases because the budgets for their departments are top heavy. Many professional workers in our hospital and schools, etc., are not receiving proper pay because there are too many upper crust positions, often useless, taking too much of the money. There are hundreds of hospital professional and others who have years and years working there and have no pensions and lower pay than they should be getting and we will lose them and their institutional knowledge and have to replace them with higher cost new people who will have no staying power.
None of this says that any of our leaders are personally bad people but fairness must be considered and limited funds understood. We have a gigantic government budget. We spend over one billion dollars every year for our small population. Nowhere else in the world is there so much money, per capita.
In my humble view some of this top heavy money needs to be cut and moved down the scale to the underpaid professionals and hardworking workers at the working level. I use the word ‘working’ often because these people are getting the everyday tasks done. There is so little money available to buy things like Asphalt and bandages and medicines and even toilet paper, that the little people in the government become discouraged and give up.
Let me end by saying that we can fix this by demanding that all departments trim the excesses at the top and move that money down. Teachers you want more money look to your 162 million dollar budget and move some of that money from the assistants who have assistants, down to you. Don’t look to the legislature for more, look upstairs for it; it’s there. This calls for all our efforts. None of this is about anyone, it is about how we use our assets. This is our home and we love it, let us not squander it.
Bob White, St. Croix