Sunday, February 26, 2012

Need a Hospital? Better Hope It Has NO Elite Enclaves

Where does Ms. One-percenter go when she bangs her big toe? Why, to the "amenities unit" of her local, taxpayer subsidized hospital!

Okay, a hypothetical question: Missy Marcus bangs her big toe on exiting her special one-percenter jacuzzi and believes she's sprained it. What does she do? Where does she go for treatment or succor? Dumb question! She heads directly - with all necessary shopping appliances, bags, etc. - to the nearest "amenities unit" of her city hospital.

These are special units, which often take up entire sequestered floors, which cater only to elite clientele. The personal pampering includes a personal concierge whose duty it is to take care of all tasks, large and small as well as shopping duties - say in case Missy needs a special pair of designer slippers, a new negligee (she obviously can't be expected to wear a .....gown!), a gold-embossed toothbrush or whatever.

If Missy resides in New York City, she'd likely make her way to the elite floor called "Eleven West" - an exclusive wing of New York's Mt. Sinai Medical Center, as recently reported by colmnist Jim Hightowe in a recent column ('Hospitals Offer Elite Services for Wealthy'). Quoting Eleven West's Director of Hospitality (ibid.):

"We pride ourselves on getting the patient anything she wants. If they have a craving for lobster tails, and we don't have them on the menu, we will go out and get them!"

Wowser! And I thought that designer water fall tables and special toilets equipped with automatic warming toilet seats, with special butt sprayers and driers were the limit for the 1%- e.g.

Seems I underestimated their pure hedonist quotients!

What else could Missy expect over her hospital stay? Well, for $2,400 a day (no biggie for an investment banker) : butlers, five -star meals (e.g. foie gras), marble baths, imported bed sheets, and even personal massages. Not to mention other goodies, e.g. special rose wine wraps and chocolate scrubs, for those with insurance and cash to burn - according to Hightower.

The terrible downside? From LA to New York all these elite wing hospitals are "drawing huge subsidies from us taxpayers" according to Hightower, and also - because so much space is taken up by the elites, regular 'economy class' patients are often relegated to gurneys in hallways (as my wife was several years ago when she experienced an attack of c. diff. and had to wait 3 hrs. to be seen).

But even more inexcusable is that these concierge-level hospital offerings are transmogrifying our health system -- perverting health care itself into a luxury commodity. No wonder that Mitt Romney feels he can justify raising the Medicare eligibility age to ....70!

The principle of the common good? What the hell ever happened to that? In the world of wolves and sheep, where the former are encouraged to consume the latter to increase "Pareto efficiency" ...we are all fucked. Except perhaps Missy, the One Percent Mistress as she makes her way to her 5-star meal in her custom suite - with marble bath waiting.

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