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The Boss
TURNING HOSPITAL BEDS INTO VOTES: SOCIALIZED MEDICINE UNDER THE HAGUE MACHINE

By David Dayton McKean
This Web version, edited by GET NJ, COPYRIGHT 2003

It is impossible to tell from the payrolls exactly how many persons are needed to care for the 1612 persons who are, on an average day, patients at the Medical Center. No elevator operators or ambulance drivers, for example, appear on the payrolls because they are policemen at $3000 a year, and their salaries are charged to the police department. The special tutors for convalescent children – who provide one of the most publicized services of the Center – are charged to the school system. Only the names of the chief physicians are shown, for many of them are paid on a fee basis or else `on claim' monthly. The names and salaries of student nurses and internes are not given, though there are usually about three hundred of them at the Center. The total number of employees listed on the 1939 payroll was 1292; the real total must be at least five hundred more. Only a legislative investigation could find the exact proportion of employees to patients, but likely it is about one to one.

There are 258 nurses on the 1939 payroll, who are paid salaries ranging from $1080 to $2800, with a few superiors paid as much as $4500. These salaries, which are paid in addition to living expenses, are generous as nurses' salaries go; but they are not as spectacular as some Jersey City salaries. Unless there are other nurses paid in such a way that their names do not appear, the number of 258 is only about half that necessary for a well-run hospital with 1612 patients.

The payrolls show more utility and maintenance men than nurses: 269. They are paid about $1200; but it is this classification that is notoriously the refuge for the minor politicians, and no real work is expected of many of them. Most hospitals need about one utility man for every twenty patients; the Medical Center needs one for every six.

As far as can be determined the total for salaries is $2,682,864, but this does not include the charges carried by the school system and by the police department; and the item of $446,000 at both mental hospitals is unapportioned. Wages and salaries probably amount to close to three millions of dollars. The grand total of annual published costs runs to $5,286,143; but the actual total expenditure must be very close to six millions. To judge from the total costs as published by other hospitals, this is about twice what it ought to be. The per-day patient cost is about twice what it is at many exclusive private hospitals and three times what it is at many charity hospitals. One manager of a community hospital told the author that it ought not to cost more than two and a quarter millions to operate the Medical Center, providing the very best of care, service, and food, and assuming no income from patients.

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