Small Pennsylvania hospital story illustrates the need for reform

The worst of our healthcare system – and actually our entire economy – is illustrated in this news story of Ellwood City Hospital near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. It is typical of smaller more rural hospital and health care facilities that historically relied on cash flow from wealthy nonprofit donors or government payments to keep its doors open. As both sources declined, the hospital is in crisis.

  • The hospital was having financial problems for many years.
  • The county and state attorney generals were already investigating several irregularities.
  • A sale and financial restructuring a few years ago was hoped to address the problems.
  • Hospital still has financial strain now including debt payments and is unable to meet state operating requirements.
  • State health department recently shut down hospital operations.
  • Hospital is now unable to make basic payroll and pension payments.
  • Hospital increases collection efforts against its patients.
  • State attorney general is beginning prosecution of hospital management.
  • Key hospital employees are bailing out to avoid the mess.

Is it clear from this story that ongoing government attacks on the members of the community are not working?

Decades of siphoning off this community’s capital into the pockets of the richest corporate financiers is too much to bear. Yet government is only protecting its own interests and the interests of the financiers through its investigations and prosecutions. We still need to learn that we can’t legislate or prosecute out way out of operational cash flow problems. Prosecuting fellow members of our community and shutting off care to patients is not the answer. They are not the enemy!

Let’s be perfectly clear with our words, even if those words are harsh: the current government system that allow money to be accumulated at a record pace by the wealthiest 1 in 1,000 corporate citizens at the expense of the other 999 citizens is the real problem. The laws and politicians that enable and enforce this inequity are the real enemy of the society.

We must raise the courage to fix our society’s underlying cash flow problems. We must get our money back out of offshore bank accounts of these wealthiest financiers. We must attack the widening wealth and income gap by reversing the policies of “trickle down” myth. There is plenty of money to ensure basic healthcare for everyone; we just need government’s help to access it.

Until we muster the courage to do this, this story will repeat again and again in the ongoing downward spiral of our economy. Several of our nation’s leaders have laid down the outline to a recovery plan. Yet as long as government and about half of our citizens are focused on the wrong “enemies” then we have no hope of economic recovery.

I chose this hospital news story to illustrate a much larger problem because of it similarities to my own recent news story. In 2018 the New Jersey government has chosen to close down the small bayshore businesses at Money Island, New Jersey and even prosecute the nonprofit board members (including me) involved in community economic recovery projects rather than address the underlying problems that led to the cash flow crisis. See the book “The Drowning of Money Island” and my recent notes at for more on that story. Economic recovery is simply not possible while government is enforcing its own interests and the interests of only its wealthiest stakeholders at the expense of the rest of the citizens.


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