Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Crooked bunglers

Massive confusion and incompetence is the kindest interpretation for the Bush Administration response to Hurricane Katrina. What other explanation is there for failing to make use of hundreds of surgeons and paramedics from North Carolina and their state-of-the-art mobile hospital marooned in rural Mississippi? (San Francisco Chronicle)
"We have tried so hard to do the right thing. It took us 30 hours to get here," said one of the frustrated surgeons, Dr. Preston "Chip" Rich of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That government officials can't straighten out the mess and get them assigned to a relief effort now that they're just a few miles away "is just mind-boggling," he said in a phone interview.
Haven't had enough? Here's some more:
Other doctors also complained that their offers of help were turned away. A primary care physician from Ohio called and e-mailed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after seeing a notice on the American Medical Association's Web site about volunteer doctors being needed.

An e-mail reply told him to watch CNN that night where HHS Secretary Leavitt was to announce a Web address for doctors to enter their names in a database.

"How crazy is that?" he complained in an e-mail to his daughter.

Dr. Jeffrey Guy, a trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt University who has been in contact with the mobile hospital doctors, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview, "There are entire hospitals that are contacting me, saying, 'We need to take on patients,'" but they can't get through the bureaucracy.

"The crime of this story is, you've got millions of dollars in assets and it's not deployed," he said. "We mount a better response in a Third World country."
Billions of dollars that could have been well-used by local public health have been squandered in a misconceived, poorly planned, incompetently executed program aimed at responding to terrorism. It obviously couldn't have done that, either, much less the many other more likely things that needed doing, like basic public health and emergency preparedness for natural disasters.

This Administration is not just globally incompetent. It is the greatest gang of crooked bunglers in our history.