In 2005, I lost a race for Stanislaus County Supervisor. A major plank of my platform was to upgrade our health care system in order to keep the community safe from disease, including epidemics. Voters did not agree.
The winner of the supervisor’s race followed the Republican doctrine of letting the free market provide all medical services to the public. The county hospital was closed and clinical services were cut back. The county contracted with the for-profit Doctor’s Hospital of Modesto to replace the closed county facility.
The Free Market At Work
The hallmark of a free market system is to optimize profit by charging what the market will bear while operating facilities as close to capacity as possible.
As a result, visitors to Doctor’s Hospital usually encounter a full emergency room with hours in wait time even when no extraordinary medical event, like an epidemic, is ongoing. Modesto’s other two hospitals, Memorial Medical Center and Kaiser Hospital, operate under the same business model.
In February 2020, my father entered Kaiser Hospital of Modesto through the emergency room. He had to be held in the intensive care unit until a patient in the main hospital was discharged, freeing up a room. The hospital was full before the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Stanislaus County.
If no bed is available before an epidemic hits, imagine what will happen in Stanislaus County’s hospitals when the epidemic patients start rolling in. No more capacity exists.
Little is known about the availability of testing for the virus, and little effort is being made to keep the public informed about the county’s readiness for service. “Call 911” is not much information. Lack of testing ability facilitates the spread of virus as no one can determine who is infected with a highly contagious strain.
Ultimately, the responsibility for the lack of preparation should lay with the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. How can they be held accountable when no one knows what preparations, if any, have been made?
Typical of politicians, the supervisors will either blame their predecessors, the State of California, or the Federal government for not protecting citizens.
Regardless of who is to blame, citizens may die. Families may lose loved ones. Even if no one dies locally, community loss will be significant because of the political dogma that the free market solves all problems. The fact is, the role of government is to do that which the free market is either unwilling or unable to do for the common good.
Based on the lack of adequate health service capacity in Stanislaus County and as the epidemic spreads, citizens should expect that help may be unavailable or seriously degraded.
Citizens should assume that Stanislaus County is not prepared to handle an epidemic. Wise citizens will minimize the possibility of contracting a virus or developing any emergency issue. A medical emergency could be fatal.
By protecting yourself, you will not become a victim of the lack of County preparedness.
Food and Necessity Shortages
In recent weeks, there have been shortages of certain foods and necessities. The shortages have been the result of sudden changes in public buying habits and the inability of some business supply chains to adjust.
Local Grocery companies have done the best job of restocking shelves. They have an excellent supply system that responds quickly to demand change.
Markets saw demand jump primarily due to the closure of many local restaurants, which were serving a substantial number of meals daily. When the restaurants started closing, demand shifted to the grocery stores. The sudden shift in demand may have had a greater impact than hoarding; perishables are difficult to preserve.
Goods vendors like Target, CVS, and Costco have seen hoarding of non-perishable items such as alcohol, disinfectant, and paper products. They have “just-in-time” inventory systems which work great during normal times, but are unable to recover quickly during periods of extraordinary demand. They may need weeks to restock shelves.
Shelter In Place
When the government and private sector are unable to protect us, staying safe at home is our best option. Stay safe.
Pamela French says
I agree that our local government has failed us all not just in Modesto but every small-town and It hurts my heart to say but Manteca should be on the top 5 city’s that let down their community’s.
The worst part is they have abandoned the homeless, don’t believe everything you read or hear in the news or wherever.
I was born in Modesto and raised on West Ripon Rd. I have lived in Manteca all my life and when I’m asked where I’m from, I just say the Valley.
I used to be proud to say I’m from Manteca, but it’s been many many years since that has been the case.
My Dad went to Manteca high and my Mom went to Ripon high and I’m relieved they aren’t here to see what is happening.
My husband and I have been homeless for a year, we live in our car and both of us have health issues and we live on his SSI, my husband is a Veteran with 2 honorable discharges.
I’ve made a lot of calls for help to get us a place to stay but it’s been a lost cause.
What do we do?
Is there anyone out there that cares?
Sincerely Out of Hope and Lost.
I am a veteran too I just recently got out in March 2015 oth discharge army and I got in trouble w law enforcement I literally got harrassment so bad in Modesto I caught a felony had to go to jail almost got prison and now they sent me to Palo Alto to get help and another chance good luck try getting wi th the veteran justice program from the va in Palo Alto the Modesto ca clinic on Oakdale road may be able to take you to me lol park then to Palo Alto and u can get recovery an all of he wants an get hud VASH housing out here god bless u
Lou Valero says
Dear Pamela French and husband,
It is now mid May 2020 and only now reading your reply,
How would any of us contact one another? Perhaps the Valley Citizen will offer us a way, under certain circumstances.
I have lived in multiple counties, in multiple states, it is the same everywhere.
Recently, through no fault of my own, not that fault really has anything to do with not finding affordable housing, I have found myself coming up empty on locating housing I can afford, even affordable sub-standard housing. In these, so called, modern times, low income people can not afford the luxury of rental owners who maintain their homes. I am being charged $1200 per month for a rental that was advertised as having Central Air Conditioning, that my medical condition requires.
Even though expensive, it was the only rental available 2 days before I was to become homeless. I lived comfortable for years where I was, even though paying for all repairs, until the rental owner passed away and his son started illegally “skimming” my rent by not paying the nortgage and taxes, causing that house to go into foreclosure. When unable to find another rental, i was allowed to stay on 1 more month, with the caveat that I paid a higher rent for the month, plus an additional $1800 for inconvenience, and $250 for a lawyer tondraw upbdocuments that guaranteed I would move no leter than the last day of the month.
Having to move,,only out of sheer desperation, I signed a 1 year lease on the run down rental, thinking surely I will be able to find affordable housing within the year. Then the unexpected happened!
After I moved in I learned the heater worked but not the air conditioner. Making matters worse, that hot, muggy day, when I went to wash my hands, I learned there was no working hot water, either.
I payed $60 out of my own pocket to have the HVAC diagnosed. I learned the minimum cost to repair, if possible, would be $2800 and the freon necessary was already due to be outlawed the following year. The rental owner ignored my notices and I eventually saved up and paid out of my own pocket just shy of $1000 for a high BTU window air conditioner (hoping to atleasr cool the living room and attached dining room), plus installation. I went without other necessities to scrape together that cost. I now sleep in the livingroom, the other rooms are far too hot to exist in. There must be little or no insulation the living room and dining room, because unless I sit in close proximity to the window AC the room is still quite warm. The window AC is functioning as it should, it is clearly the lack of insulation.
The same day I moved in I learned I had no hot water. The water tank pilot could not be lit. PG&E confirmed that fact. Between ordering parts and scheduling for any certified plumber who could schedule me in, the hot water tank was finally repaired 31 days years. Under the circumstances that I was unsuccessfully seeking new affordable housing, I choose not to purchase a stove yet. Thus I had no way to heat water for 31 long days. The rental owner ignored all my notices to make repairs thus I paid for the hot water tank repair.
Just two days earlier, on the 29th day in, I woke up with a huge painful red hot bump on my scalp and the lymphnodes swollen in the back of my neck. By the time the hot water tank was repaired, I had been diagnosed with “cellulitis” that lasted 6 weeks to heal, even after two regimines of 875 mL antibiotics 4X a day. The throbbing pain kept worsening as the infection went deeper under my scalp, I was incapacitated.
When the rental owner finally surfaced months later, I was threatened with eviction if I dared deduct for my expenses out of the rent. You may wonder why I refer tobthe rental owner as such, it is because I loathe the term: Landlord. This rental owner has lorded it over me for far too long, and I refuse to use the term. I spent all my savings down and my Social Security is inadequate to cover expenses, even on the tightest of budgets.
Here is a real life example of how people end up homeless.
I still have not found affordable housing to move into. Even the shared, 2 person per room rentals that rent for $600 per person have long waiting lists, the city and county Social Workers told me.
Pray for us senior citizens, especially during Covid-19 who are facing imminent homelessness. My health requires air conditioning, and the streets are not air conditioned. If I live, I will update you.on the miracle. Stay safe… Blessed are tge peacemakers!
Free markets only exist at flea markets, and we’re learning disease and war profiteers are cut from the same cloth.
Now we’re seeing the dysfunction of the free market ; as if there wasn’t a lot already pre-COVID 19.
I have come to the grim conclusion that the free market does not care one bit how many sicken and die . It’s all about profit for the free market profiteers. If a lot of elderly, disabled, poor people die, well that’s good because then the free market doesn’t have to constantly figure out ways to dispose of all those unwanted people. Like cutting or getting rid of social security, Medicaid, food stamps…all those programs that help those in need when those profiteers think all that money should be going to them.
Look ahead and see what will happen after this “ lockdown” ends….lots of destroyed businesses, lots of foreclosures, lots of “ surprise billing “ medical bills ( private equity firms like Blackstone own medical practices aNd hospitals).
What will happen is mega corporations will scoop up all those foreclosed houses for pennies on the dollar ( look back at 2008-2009) . They’ll scoop up businesses that are left, but too fragile to keep going . Mega medical bills will keep people in debt servitude for years…..but hey, they can all go to work for mega corporations for crap pay, no benefits and no rights.
And keep in mind the Trump admin is right now, attempting to roll back habeous corpus, they rescinded EPA rules and they’re shutting down Planned Parenthood, all under the pretense that these are “ emergency temporary “ measures because of COVID19. If you believe this is temporary, I have beach front property on the moon to sell you.
Never let a crisis go to waste.
Al Lucchesi says
This Covid 19 pandemic shows how ill prepared a capitalist pain for profit medical system is not able to handle such a medical crises.
It also adds to Senator Berine Sanders credibility to his statement universal; medical care as a right to every American,
We have a constitutional right to an attorney but no right to medical care in the United states of America. How does that make America great?