American health institutions neglect the poor

US health institutions are less concerned about the poor (Mark Phillips / AFP)

US President Joe Biden’s administration’s efforts to improve health care programs are not preventing loopholes. A recent report published by the New York Times spoke of the lack of services in poor neighborhoods, and touched on the health sector’s problems, the most important of which is the neglect of large health institutions and hospitals located in poor neighborhoods, although these neighborhoods are an important source of increasing their profits.
The report states that the lack of basic equipment at Richmond Community Hospital is affiliated with Bon Securs Mercy Health, one of the largest non-profit health care chains in the United States, which has the highest profit margin of any hospital in Virginia, at $100 million annually, It caused the death of many citizens, one of whom was Norman Otti (63 years old), who died due to the lack of an intensive care unit, which forced his family to transfer him to another hospital, before he died on the road died. .
The management of Richmond Hospital closed the intensive care unit in 2017, under the pretext that patients could be transferred to other hospitals run by the same group in the city, and then the maternity ward, and then in the following stages it lacked health experts in various specialties, including kidney and lung diseases, and neglected equipment maintenance, according to two hospital workers who declined to be identified.
It is worth noting that the “Bon Securs” group made huge profits from the federal program to support slum clinics, which included tax breaks, while allowing them to make money, and the right to heavily discount drugs. buy.
Last year, the group, which operates 50 hospitals in the United States, was estimated to have made about $1 billion in profit and had more than $9 billion in cash reserves.
Reports indicate that it was exempted from at least $440 million annually in taxes for the federal and state governments, but in return it refrained from providing health services to slums, including the establishment of intensive care units and the treatment of chronic illnesses. Financial executives at the group, which was founded by Catholic monks, admit that it made huge sums of money from public health programs that exploited slums to increase their profit margins.
With the start of the Corona virus wave in early 2020, the group tried to reduce its business in several regions, and instead to use profits to help the poor cope with the crisis, especially patients with chronic diseases, it has the volume of work in its hospitals.

Richmond Hospital Story

Richmond Hospital was founded in 1907 by black doctors who were not allowed to work in white hospitals across the city.
In 1980, the hospital moved to its current location in the East End neighborhood, which is inhabited by a majority of black citizens. It lacked basic services, including the absence of another hospital. The hospital facilities included an intensive care unit and a maternity ward. , and treat cancer, heart and lung diseases.
In the 1990s, when major insurance companies required customers to use specific networks of hospitals and doctors in an effort to pressure providers to lower their rates, Richmond Hospital survived Richmond Hospital, which in 1995 was acquired by Bon Securs, threatened.

Richard Jackson (69), an internal medicine specialist whose family has been caring for patients in Richmond for more than a century, describes the situation as “difficult”.

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Tax breaks have brought huge profits to health institutions. (Paul Berabash/Getty)

Over the years, Bon Secours suspended services in the hospital, including the intensive care unit, causing the emigration of many doctors specializing in lung, heart and chronic diseases.
Doctors and nurses said that when Bon Secours protested the closings and cuts to intensive care units, it argued that patients could get care at other hospitals affiliated with the group.
Dr. Michael Kelly, a cardiologist who worked at Richmond Hospital, says the reduction in support to the hospital, and cardiology in particular, has made it impossible to help patients, even by transferring them to advanced valve clinics at other hospitals. to place
And after the spread of the Corona virus, the absence of health services in the hospital led to medical disasters, especially for black people and low-income people in the East End. The data showed that the region’s death rate from the Corona virus was 81 percent higher than the overall rate in the city of Virginia due to the absence of health care.
And when the Delta mutant spread to the city in the summer of 2021, Richmond Hospital couldn’t help a woman who contracted the virus and needed ventilators, and staff couldn’t transfer her to another hospital not, and then she died on arrival at Memorial Regional. Medical Center owned by the same group.

Insurance in America

The Bon Secours group dominated the medical sector in Richmond, with centers throughout the city. She first invested in Richmond Hospital, then opened the emergency department, before diluting her help to develop the hospital.
Hospital employees confirm that the group promised to develop services according to a ten-year plan, but this did not happen, while “Bon Securs” officials claimed that they spent about 10 million dollars on improvements made since 2013, including the opening of a pharmacy and the renovation of the cafeteria, emergency department and other health facilities, as well as 9 Million dollars to improve the environment around the hospital.
It appears that the failure in the health services provided by Bon Secours in poor neighborhoods was not a random policy, or an approach it takes in the management of its hospitals, as it has spent large funds to build health centers located in wealthy places are located to improve, including Francis Medical Center, which includes buildings, Italian style in a suburb of Richmond, where golf carts transport patients from the entrance hall, past a marble fountain, to their cars.
Last December, Bon Secours completed a $108 million project in St. Francis launched to expand its intensive care unit and maternity ward.
Dr. Samuel Hunter, 81, who has worked at Richmond Hospital for more than four decades, remembers his childhood being reclusive, teaching black children from second-hand books that white students didn’t need.

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