Coastal Post Online

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

**** COASTALPOST'S LOGO ****

 

DONATE TO US

SUBSCRIBE TO US

ADVERTISE WITH US

 

MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924

 

Honoring Martin Luther King
ARCHIMEDES RAMIREZ, MD


Comment on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
January 17 2005, Manzanita Center, Marin City
   I thank you for inviting me to speak here today.
   Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my heroes and I am grateful for the opportunity to honor him.
   I came to the United Stated from the
Philippines when I was 8 years old. I left after the Japanese occupation in WW II. I came to this Country for freedom, for equality; I admired the American soldiers that freed me when I was just a boy.
   When I arrived in the State of
Virginia from the Philippines, I was full of expectations of freedom and equality. That was until I was told to sit in the back of the bus because of the color of my skin. I got into my first fist fight that day for equality, and I have fought and worked hard for equality since that day.
   I had to work harder than most others to prove myself, to get into a top military school - Virginia Military Institute - so that I could be like those soldiers who helped me. I worked harder than most others to get admitted to medical school, because I had to be twice as good as the others to be considered. My six brothers and sisters and I were raised to work hard, to have integrity, to do our best and to demand our place at the table. Along with our devoted Mother, it was Martin Luther King, Jr. who inspired us to be our best in the face of prejudice and adversity.
   Today I am fortunate to live in the richest Country in the World, and in one of the richest counties in the World - but I continue to see here inequality for the poor and for minorities.
   As a doctor I see that HEALTHCARE has become the new frontier for discrimination, with the poor, and the people of color, and the working poor --- getting no or little good healthcare. On the other hand I see the rich corporations that run big healthcare conglomerates, getting richer from their failure to provide healthcare to those who can't pay their inflated prices.
   Soon even the wealthy will receive mediocre healthcare as big corporations seek profits over patient care. Why? Because Medical Corporation CEO's don't take an oath to put patients first, their oath is to put profits first!
   Access to quality healthcare should be a right in this country, not a privilege. Almost 70% of my patients are on Medicare and Medicaid, many are minorities and indigent. Every day I hear them tell me how they can't get doctors to see them, and they can't afford to go to our publicly owned
Marin General Hospital.
   Right here in Marin the Corporation that leases and operates our Hospital - Sutter - made profits of $465 million last year on the 27 hospitals it manages, while so many in our community either went without medical care, or lost their life savings to pay for the care they did receive. Sutter has a terrible record of providing care to the indigent, and right now Sutter being sued as part of a nationwide Class Action for charging uninsured working people more than the wealthy insured patients.
   Sutter has failed to meet its commitment to give care to those in need in other communities, not just Marin. Now they want to take over for 50 years, the monopoly on healthcare in our community, despite their bad track record on providing medical care for those who cannot afford their high prices, and despite their bad track record on quality of care.
   While I cannot change the World like Martin Luther King, Jr. did, I can assure you that as a doctor I am committed to fighting for equal medical treatment for all - right here in Marin. TODAY I am proposing that the Board I was elected to - - the Marin Hospital District Board - - not hand over the future of our healthcare to Sutter Corporation for 50 years, but that we build our own Hospital on a new and different campus, where all people will be treated equally and treated well.
   It will be a hospital owned and operated solely for the benefit of the people of this County, not for the benefit of some far-off big corporation that feeds its profit interests with money taken from our community. It will be a hospital that respects and treats our patients well, and it will be staffed with trained nurses and technicians. It will include supporting staff needed to run our hospital. It will have patient technology to support our doctors and nurses. It will be a Hospital that is built in an environmentally sound way so that it will not throw off hazardous waste and it will reuse energy to avoid higher costs and more damage to our environment.
   I ask all of you to continue to demand your place at the table, to demand your right to equal healthcare, to stop the discrimination in healthcare right here in
Marin County. End outsourcing to greedy corporations.
   Only the people can make their government do what is right, what is fair. That is a lesson that Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us well.
   Thank you.


            PAGE 1         

Coastal Post Home Page