The Good–The Bad–The Ugly…


I am not one to compliment the government and staff of Monroe County. However, if I’m to be fair, I must acknowledge my involvement with them, as it relates to their extraordinary handling of an issue that had the potential to break and injure a family.

The incredible willingness of the county staff to relentlessly confront a difficulty that was harming some residents, exhibited their dogged determination to ease the suffering of these taxpayers.

The brilliance and magnificence displayed by County Administrator Roman Gastesi and his incredible staff, represents a dedication and commitment to serve, which is not often found in government.

The diligent and conscientious effort put forth by Mr. Gastesi and his outstanding team, so that a solution might be found for  citizens dependent upon them for answer, demonstrates a resourcefulness and compassion that is of the highest caliber.

Please allow me to recognize the creative genius of Monroe County’s distinguished staff. These individuals played a critical role in designing a remedy for a problem, which initially appeared insurmountable. They never relented in their sterling resolve to serve the public.

The names of these exceptional staff members are as follows: Townsley Schwab, Mayte Santamaria, Joe Haberman, Matt Coyle, Wanda Reina, Jerry Smith and Christine Hurley.

I thank each one of you. You are consummate professionals.

Now, I turn my attention to another group of government staffers charged with providing medical care to our veterans at VA Hospitals. Although early in its investigation, I’m sickened by the apparent neglect, indifference and callousness rendered unto veterans at 26 specified facilities.

I know that at the Miami VA Hospital during a 3 year period, colonoscopy scopes and tubing were not sterilized after being used to examine a patient. These contaminated instruments were thrust into another unsuspecting patient, cloaked with the fecal matter from a prior examination.

How does something like this happen? Is that what we have to look forward to, from government run health-care?

Because of these unsanitary conditions, some veterans were infected with the AIDS and Hepatitis C virus. The VA was sued because of this defiled medical practice. The plaintiffs were awarded a multi-million dollar award from a judge because of the harm, and in some cases death, they suffered because of this neglect.

United States Navy surgeons saved my life. Doctors from the Veterans Administration put me back together. It’s exceedingly difficult for me to process why health care for veterans has been allowed to deteriorate. According to white house memos and whistleblowers, my Brothers and Sisters are being killed by a rouge and inhumane health care system.

It seems that we are quick to go to war and slow to treat those wounded and disabled by combat. A competent leader is cognizant that we’ve recently been involved in 3 extended conflicts in the middle east. Casualties from these wars need urgent and long-term care. Battlefield injuries, in all their grotesque expressions, are costly to treat.

Qualitatively attending to our veteran population is going to require an immediate uptick in competent doctors, nurse practitioners and clinicians. New hospitals, along with increasing the square footage of those already online, are long over-do. During my 40 years of  treatment by the Miami VA, I am not aware of any renovations that increased clinical accommodations for veterans.

Are we a compassionate and humane society? Do we value the sacrifices made by members of our Armed Forces? Or does the lip service proffered by our elected politicians, really represent our banality and shallowness.

In my heart, I sincerely believe that if the Monroe County Staff Employees previously identified were placed in supervisory positions at a VA facility, they would find a way to bring success and medical excellence into the lives of the veterans  they serve. They wouldn’t settle for anything less.

It distresses me to witness the president and his aides, refer to the VA scandal as though they were some innocent bystanders, who first heard about the systemic neglect of veterans from the 6 o’clock news.

As other areas of the presidency are unraveling, it appears that their falsehoods, incompetence and ineffectiveness are legion. Gross mismanagement is not exclusive to the VA. I pray that  the government health care system, being forced upon my countrymen, is gentler and more effective.

For the time being, I’ll just have to garner comfort from the insightful statements of President Obama and Secretary Shinseki, that they are: “Mad as Hell”.