Memorial Full Monty
Wow! You pulled the proverbial drawers off a certain hospital administrator ["Tell It to the Boss," by Margaret Downing, June 18]!

I left Hermann in June 1997, and up to the time I left, there were none of us who had anything closely resembling positive feelings toward that merger. We all felt it was a slap in the face of George Hermann's plan. Hermann was never perfect, but then how many employers ever reach that goal? What was felt at Hermann was a sense of family.

Once the merger was leaked, it was like black clouds on the horizon. Morale slowly eroded; people left, in flocks and dribbles. It is a shame to see employees subjected to such disgusting shit as described in your article [the questionnaire]. Hell, most of the things in that questionnaire were no business of my physician! Ugh! I'd just like to thank folks like you who are unafraid to ruffle a few feathers. In the interim, if ya get sick or anything ... go to St. Luke's. Ha!

I miss the hell outta the Houston Press. My carpool and I used to read it aloud on our commute home. Keep up the great work!

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Heal Thyself
Hospitals historically have provided rather poor health benefits to their (largely female and minority) employees.

Your story is part of a larger fabric of intrusive information-gathering (in this case, not merely cynical, but with a religious bias, as well) by insurers. Since most large employers are self-insured (and under ERISA, immune to regulation by state insurance boards and immune to malpractice suits), employees are unprotected against intrusion and discrimination whether motivated by financial interest, irrational bias or prurience.

People who get sick cost money. The way to make a profit in health insurance is to insure only healthy people, curtail access to treatment and dump sick people on the public system. In the future, vulnerable individuals can expect to be not only uninsurable but unemployable, as insurer/employers skim the cream of "covered lives."

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Hide Us -- Quick!
The people at Hermann who object to the corporation monitoring and evaluating their private lives are obviously emotionally disturbed and potentially dangerous individuals who have taken the concept of "freedom of thought" and twisted it into some sick entity.

The indisputable fact is, human beings are petty and small and incapable of managing their lives or understanding and evaluating their world. It is the role of the corporation to manage their employees' lives in order to reduce uncertainty and increase productivity.

I believe that the article and your newspaper are well intentioned, but you provide a disservice to the community and the employees at Hermann by promoting dissent and supporting their delusion of "individuality." I regret to say that I will no longer be able to read your paper, as my employer has a policy of conducting searches of employees' homes in order to make sure that none of us has any solicitous or "negative" literature. I will return to reading the state-sanctioned paper in town, which is on my corporation-approved reading list.

Patrick Reynolds

Good Friday, Good Grief?
Thanks for writing such an article. You are correct in saying that many employees do not want to be identified for fear of job compromises. Dan Wilford did discriminate, when he forced all employees to trade one of their "personal holidays" in exchange for everyone getting off on Good Friday. He just discriminated against all the non-Christian employees.

Another interesting happening is that all the top female administrators have "chosen" to leave the system and have all been replaced by Memorial men. Of course, the top women were from the Hermann system.

I think what bothers me the most is that these moves are made as if the employees are so ignorant that we will not figure out what the agenda really is -- this is insulting.

I know that there are good employees coming from the Memorial side, but unfortunately they have been left in the dark about employee-related laws -- and ethics!

Name withheld by request
via Internet

Paging Dr. Aardvark
Your piece on Dan S. Wilford and the questionnaire brouhaha raging at Memorial/Hermann is not surprising when you consider the aardvarks responsible for the operation at Memorial. I have had several procedures done there, and have learned my lesson. The entire operation is flawed, from patient accounting to technicians. This, of course, is my opinion, but it has been a lesson well learned. Now, I see they have stooped to snooping. Get a life and a job, Wilford.

Bill Buie
via Internet

Can't Bear It
It was a surprise for this ten-year employee of Memorial Healthcare to see a negative article about it. About time, I say. Dan expresses his puzzlement at the attitude of Hermann employees concerning the wellness questionnaire. Since employee input is not asked for and is pretty much ignored here anyway, the fact that someone has spoken up surprises him. The memo rules here, and don't question the results. It has already been decided for you by the powers that be. So, to the new Hermann employees, welcome to the Memorial way. May you become as immune to the whole process as most of the rest of us have.

Remember what the Care Bear says: "Partners in caring give all their heart to the corporation."

Royal McLouth
via Internet

Judges Are Right
I have to agree wholeheartedly with judges Godwin and Shaver that Johnny Holmes's office policy forbidding in-chambers conferences is "nonsensical" ["Insider," by Tim Fleck, June 18].

I have a great deal of respect for Johnny and feel that, generally, the public is well served by an honest and forthright D.A. However, in this case, Johnny is wrong. The practice, now proscribed, has been in use since Johnny was an assistant D.A.

The rules prohibiting recommendations of probation have more to do with fostering the public's perception that the prosecutor is "being tough on crime." If Johnny didn't have rules against recommending probation, or against reducing a felony charge to a misdemeanor, or setting outlandish bonds in certain categories of cases, there would be no need for conferences with the judge.

The prohibition against conferences signals a basic distrust of the integrity of the judge, the defense lawyer and the prosecutor. To paraphrase Judge Shaver, Johnny has been away from the courtroom for too long.

George M. Karam
via Internet

Editor's note: Karam is an attorney and former assistant


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