Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hospital Enterprise

In the business world, when you control all aspects of a product, from its raw materials to completed form, it’s called ‘Vertical Integration’.

Creating a problem, and selling the only solution to it at great profit, is what law enforcement calls ‘Racketeering’. Or ‘British Petroleum’. Something like that.

I have to be honest here – creating and operating rackets and other forms of extortion are really, really great if you’re the racketeer/extorter. Allow me to illustrate.

Some time ago I was in the hospital for some repairs. I think it may have been my gall bladder that needed servicing, but it may have been a knee, hamhock, fallopian, spline, camshaft or other piece of wonky anatomy. There’s been a few. An oil change maybe.

First, I was given powerful and quite wonderful medications for several days, or possibly months (can’t remember), in a ward with several other gentlemen who were in various states of disrepair.

Frankly, I had been hoping for a bed in the Slightly Injured Hotties In Need of Frequent Sponge Baths Ward since I was single at the time, but alas.

Anyway, my ward mates were all confined to their beds – inert. I, however, was ert. Blessed with mobility, albeit it of the extremely baked variety, I set about racketeering on my floor since I am an entrepreneur who, even loaded to the eyeballs, can recognize opportunity.

After receiving complaints (and hurled objects) about my loud snoring, I learned that the gift shop on the main floor sold ear plugs for $1 per set. (Confession: I had a crush on the cute volunteer behind the counter. This once again proves the evils of drugs since it later turned out the cutie was in fact a happily married gentleman named Fred who was 74).

I would resell these earplugs to my captive roommates for $5 per pair or more, depending on how much they had in their wallets at the time. In the morning I would confiscate these earplugs while my customer was being medicated or washed or jump-started or whatever, and I would start all over again.

It was awesome!

Oh sure - I got some dirty looks from my clients. There were some who perhaps didn’t like how I counted out the money from their wallets, or maybe it was how I held the baseball bat over their knees. I didn’t take it personally. It was just business.

As my revenues soared I was able to diversify into other black markets. I gained access to the kitchen by (almost) legal means and pilfered extra desserts, such as they were (this was hospital food remember), for auction to the floor’s highest bidder. I also supplied extra apple juice, whiskey, nylons, perfume, explosives, pacemakers, manure, watches and other essential items.

I also sold stuff to the patients.

In business as in life all good things must come to an end, though, and so it was with my hospital enterprise. Two of my ward mates checked out (that may be a poor choice of words) and eventually I went under the knife, emerging from anesthesia to see a competitor staring me in the face, offering certain items for sale at reasonable prices, and what size ears did I have?
I fooled him though. Copious amounts of Demerol meant being so loaded I was rarely conscious so I never heard a darn thing and he had no hold over me. Ha!

I gotta tell ya though, him being a doctor made it really frustrating.

So you see, for-profit health care can exist within the overall health care framework.

You’ve just got to be creative.

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