County leaving public at risk

It would seem self-evident. If a county government is going to provide the basic services a civil society requires, it must find the political will to do two things: resource the services and hire trained workers to do the job.

Unfortunately for San Joaquin, our Board of Supervisors is falling short on these requirements, a conclusion drawn by the San Joaquin County Emergency Medical Services Agency that monitors local trauma centers.

The agency has issued a “Notice of Corrective Action/Compliance Notice for San Joaquin General Hospital Trauma Center” charging the hospital is out of compliance with federal and state management and staffing requirements. The report confirms what many SJGH hospital workers will tell you: there are staffing shortages in the Emergency Room, Intensive Care Unit and Surgery that involve surgeons, nurses, operating room techs, trauma registrars, nursing assistants and Hospital Unit Clerks, among others.

The notice outlines what administrators have to fix by Oct. 10 or SJGH could lose its official designation as a trauma center, and the community could lose a piece of an essential safety net service.

This issue of short staffing is the point county workers have been making in contract negotiations since February and is part of what led to the three-day strike last July. The short staffing is not only a worker issue, it’s also impacts everyone who relies on County services: from road maintenance, Child Protective Services, to care provided at SJGH.

SEIU 1021 members are the vast majority of the workers at San Joaquin General Hospital. Along with the registered nurses of the California Nurses Association (CNA), we have been citing for years the fact that SJGH violates federal and state laws on care staffing as a matter of regular practice, affecting the quality of care and endangering patients. Moreover, the same thing happens in nearly every department in the County. And the losers are the residents who use the services and dutifully pay their taxes only to see the Board of Supervisors squander and misappropriate them.

Out of the more than 6,700 countywide positions in the budget, about 700 of them are not filled. That is 700 fewer providers to serve residents and 700 fewer jobs this community needs. The county now has a surplus of $54 million, built in large part by not filling budgeted service provider positions. The Board of Supervisors can resolve the staffing issues at SJGH and the rest of the county, improve public services, and resolve contract negotiations with SEIU 1021 and a half dozen other unions that work for the County.

But that is where political will and willingness to do the right thing comes in.

Marcus Williams

President, San Joaquin County chapter

SEIU Local 1021

Facts and checking them

Two weeks ago I wrote a letter that recommended a number of fairly reliable fact-checking sources for people who were seriously interested in knowing the truth about current events. David Kerst responded by accusing me of relying on “left-leaning fact-check websites that parrot Democratic talking points."

Is he correct in his implication that fact checking web sites connected to newspapers, magazines, radio and TV news outlets are all conspiring together?

I suspect that David didn’t actually check out the sites I mentioned, and that he doesn’t actually have any evidence that they all lean one way. He certainly didn’t attempt to make a case. He just made his charge and moved on.

The interesting question is why people are upset by the existence of fact checkers. We all like to wax self-righteous and indignant and play a game of “ain't it awful” from time to time. For some, the game becomes a hobby.

For them, the truth, facts and accuracy get in the way of a good story. David tells a good story about the corruption of the Clintons. The story has been described by the Los Angeles Times as, “not history and not journalism."

Even a prominent Republican such as David Gergen, who worked in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, said of Kerst’s source “that book has been basically discredited."

Sometimes it’s nice to know the truth.

Mickey McGuire