The view from inside major medical centers
There are some similarities but there are very big differences as well. I think the federal government is good at doing what they do best, which is to legislate and to provide funding. I think where the breakdown occurs is when those funds compete for attention. For example, in the county, funds flow down from the government to the county and from the county, it's distributed through the systems within the county to provide those emergency medical services.
We, as a hospital system, and other hospital-type of responders, compete for those dollars with the fire departments, with the ambulance companies, with the police departments for equipment and training and supplies. In that competition then, the dollars get diluted and actually, the money that ends up in the healthcare industry itself, are probably are not as much as we would like to see I know they're not to help us to get ready. So the actual process then, falls more to the organizations themselves, and as private industry, it presents real issues for us because within private industry, which is healthcare for the most part, we also have competition for dollars. We have to maintain our own infrastructure. We have to maintain our own practice, and again, we have to provide normal hospital and emergency care for the normal population in a normal environment.
And at this point, we're running at capacity in this nation. So to try to surge upward at the same time when staffing is being impacted and people are in a pandemic and ill, means that there's a shift in balance and we go out of balance to the negative. And that's what we have to try to mitigate and that's were our planning efforts have to be focused. So again, education and personal preparedness, as Secretary Leavitt said, are truly the only ways we can prepare well enough that we can lessen our concern.
KELLY: Thanks. Let me ask a quick question. Maybe really a question of are we over does anyone here think we're overreacting to this? Does anyone think, that despite this conversation, we really don't need to be doing anything extraordinary?
MILLER: I certainly think we have to do this. As the secretary pointed out, as Katrina pointed out, as 9/11 pointed out we were not really prepared and we have to take those steps. We know how to put scenarios together; we know how to get our workforce motivated and put things in place so that we can move forward. We know how to put teams together. We should have been able to take these various disasters that we've had and put together a coherent plan and I think we, as leaders need to do that.
KELLY: Yup, Frank.
PEACOCK: I think we have to be rational about this when we start talking about disaster planning. I don't care how much money you have, I can spend every dime of it and I can spend all your children's money, too (laughter). We can spend endlessly it's like insurance and everybody in house has to go through this, every person, every family. How much money do you put on your own insurance? I mean your own health insurance, your house insurance, what's it worth and how much of your household budget goes to it? It's the same thing for the country. How much budget do we put for because this is our insurance policy. And the danger is we get all emotional, and policy by emotion is just misguided; we will get ourselves in trouble. But we do need to have more rational planning than we have currently.