Monday, November 22, 2010

The Good, Bad and Sad: The ECM Saga

By J.J. Ray

The Good

Having heard so many stories about ECM I was very reluctant to go to Shoals Hospital for a diagnostic test. Surprise, surprise not only were they on time but totally professional and respectful. I did get the opportunity to inquire about the takeover. Most comments were positive but there seemed to be an underlying thought that most danced around.

As fate would have it, a relative became extremely ill and most of our families have been at ECM for the last ten days. Once again, the staff has been extremely professional and helpful with the exception of some on the night shift.

The Bad

Now we will talk about the food or lack thereof. In my sixty plus years on this earth, I have seen some ghastly food but it cannot match the rubbish ECM tries to call nourishment. I really have tried to find a word to use to describe it but there does not appear to be any word in any language besides garbage. There is a definite possibility that dumpster diving downtown would be more preferable than that the refuse they serve there. Now to make matters worse they even close the cafeteria and grill at ridiculous times especially on the weekends when visiting is the highest so people will be required to drive into town to get some editable food to feed the patients and of course spend more money for the parking garage.

The Really Bad

Once again, there appears to be an absolute absence of intelligence in the food service department. The billing department is the same. Each day they would bring a bill up to the room and present it to my relative even though he was not coherent. Fully expecting him to come out of the stupor and write them a daily check. The clerk would walk into the room and lay the envelope on the tray. Then she would retreat close to the open door as if ready to make a rapid departure. She stood there dutifully and waited for the patient to read the bill. It reminded me of an old silent movie. She would stand there and the patient who could not open the envelope just gazed at the paper and once again went back to sleep. The only thing I did wrong was not having my camera so I could document the bizarre scene. It would have gone viral on YouTube.

The Sad

Other than the business office and refuse (food) department everyone with a couple of exceptions were great. The comments I did hear from the staff had to do with the loss of medical benefits. Their comment was “Don’t get sick and go somewhere else besides ECM because that only leads to Bankruptcy”. No one ever did mention how much they cut but it was a large amount. They all thanked the County and City leaders for dumping them on a company that only has an eye for the bottom line and no compassion for its workers. Could it be they trained in the Obama White House?

I wonder what the business office will do to those folks that cannot write daily checks? Maybe they will hold them in pawn until someone can come and bail them out or perhaps they will have to take out a mortgage on their children or grandchildren so the business office can get their daily money.

Great Idea

One other idea would be to get the city council and mayor from Cherokee to run the hospital. Mayor Lansdell's first job would be the erection of a debtor’s prison and pillory. At least Melinda Malone would be safe for a while.


An article in today's TimesDaily states there are currently 29 registered sex offenders in the Colbert County town of Sheffield. The Alabama Department of Public Safety lists only 27. Of the 27 listed, one is James Roy Sibley, currently incarcerated in the Florence-Lauderdale Detention Center.

We're sure due to processing lags and other factors, such numbers never match; however, we do believe the citizens of Sheffield have a right to know just who their neighbors are. Perhaps the next issue of Hard Times will showcase the two offenders whose names have not yet reached the state's website.


Look for links to Alabama Inmate Search (state inmates) and VINElink (county inmates) in The Connection.

What's up with this: Flat bottom boats don't float? Who knew?