Coronavirus Diary (33): Interview with Mike Maron, CEO of Holy Name Hospital

This is an excellent interview on NJTV news with Mike Maron, CEO of Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, New Jersey. I mentioned Maron in the very first post I did in this series. As he says here, he subsequently contracted COVID-19 and recovered.

The video offers up some useful challenges to a lot of ideological preconceptions.

Haters of corporate CEOs will have to reckon with Maron’s undeniable moral gravitas. He may be a corporate CEO, but he’s likable, courageous, and wise.

Haters of Donald Trump will have to reckon with the fact that Maron recovered by relying on the notoriously “unproven” drug that Trump has been touting for a few weeks, hydroxychloroquine. Whether reliance on this drug in this case involved a selection or a treatment effect is hard to say.  I could care less, though: I’d try it. Hell, I’d try zinc, too. If it works, it works. At this point, if someone convinced me that pineapple pizza cured COVID-19, I’d eat it. This is no time to be fussy.

Lovers of free market competition will have to reckon with the fact that Maron describes it as a disadvantage from a public health standpoint.

Lovers of complacency, skepticism, and denial will have to reckon with the fact that Maron is resolutely opposed to all three.

Lovers of gloom and doom will have to reckon with the fact that Maron (and I assume his family) seems to have made a full recovery while suffering a fairly mild form of the infection.

Lovers of happy endings will have to acknowledge that, all things considered, a handful of recoveries isn’t quite a happy ending.

Lovers of CNN, Fox, and MSNBC will have to confront the contrast between the flashy BS artistry of those corporate giants, and the substantive, fact-based reporting of a basically unknown public TV station based in Newark, New Jersey.

A tour de force. Something for everyone. Some good news, for a goddamn change.

4 thoughts on “Coronavirus Diary (33): Interview with Mike Maron, CEO of Holy Name Hospital

  1. “Lovers of free market competition will have to reckon with the fact that Maron describes it as a disadvantage from a public health standpoint.”

    1. I didn’t hear him say that.
    2. Is his hospital making new ICUs with new design features a result of a free market or a government edict?
    3. If you want to consider a free market in healthcare and health insurance versus government-run ones, compare Switzerland vs Italy and Spain. According to the latest numbers, Switzerland’s cases per million population are higher than Italy’s and 87% of Spain’s. Switzerland’s deaths/cases are about 1/3rd of Spain’s and 1/4th of Italy’s. Switzerland has also tested a much higher percent of its population than Italy or Spain.

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    • 1. I heard him say it very clearly between 2:47 and 3:10. But here is the transcript:

      This is my hope. This is my prayer. We can go one of two ways, right? Apathy can set it, which is normal human behavior these days, and within months maybe a year we forget. The pain is gone and we go back to how business used to be. That would be a catastrophe in my mind,” he said. “I think the severity of this crisis should wake us all up, that first off, every hospital that is operational and functioning is necessary. You know what, we are a lot better when we collaborate and support each other and work together rather than compete with each other on a business economic scale. The way we’ve operated for the last four decades should be gone and we should start thinking about a productive, more efficient way of how we’re going to operate for the four or five decades that are coming. And I think this is a great opportunity to do that.

      “Every hospital that is operational and functioning is necessary” implies that hospitals that fail from a purely business standpoint should not be allowed to fail, given that the loss of capacity is sub-optimal from a public health standpoint.

      “[W]e are a lot better when we collaborate and support each other and work together rather than compete with each other on a business economic scale” is a departure from the standard micro-economic business model that says that firms achieve optimal outcomes through competition in a free market.

      In New Jersey, “The way we’ve operated for the last four decades should be gone” is an implicit rejection of the widespread acquisition of hospitals by for-profit corporations, and the subordination of medical concerns to profit-making ones. That’s an inference on my part, but I think it’s a fair inference, and it can be checked by my simply asking him what he meant (which I can do).

      I take him to be referring to phenomena like this:

      https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2020/02/07/hudson-lawmakers-launch-last-ditch-effort-to-save-christ-hospital-1259642

      It’s a common view that for-profit corporate acquisition has been a net loss for health care in New Jersey, and that legislative attempts to “keep embattled CarePoint hospitals afloat” is a good thing, even if it doesn’t accord with laissez faire libertarian scruples. I take Maron to be seconding this view on the grounds that had these hospitals be left to go under, the dead would now be littering the streets of Jersey City and Hoboken.

      I regard your points (2) and (3) as red herrings. What I said is that lovers of free market competition will have to reckon with the fact that Maron describes it as a disadvantage. I wasn’t rendering an all-things-considered judgment that a free market in health care should be replaced with government edicts, or saying that government should run health care. Your points (2) and (3) make no contact with the point I made: free market competition on the standard micro-economic model has some disadvantages. Libertarians like to insist that if only we free markets from regulation and taxation, free market competition will solve our problems. Maron’s point is that competition is not always beneficial from a public health standpoint. Sometimes it, and the profit-motive that drives it, are harmful and counter-productive. It has its place, but it’s not the panacea that libertarian rhetoric makes it out to be.

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  2. Highly relevant, whether one agrees or not:

    https://jacobinmag.com/2020/04/hospital-closing-shortage-coronavirus

    Libertarians have to stop writing and acting as though FDA regulations and CDC incompetence (and the like) are the only variables of interest required to explain the situation we’re in. The problems described in this Jacobin article are real, explanatory, and persistent, and adversely affect the practice of medicine as much as over-regulation. In the absence of a comprehensive explanation of the failures of our health care system it’s not enough to fixate on a few variables and harp on them over and over in the hopes of convincing people that those are the only ones that matter.

    The reductio ad absurdum of this attitude is the polemicist whose contribution to the discussion of COVID-19 consists of homilies about the evils of electric hand dryers.

    https://www.aier.org/article/rethink-the-disease-spreading-hand-dryer-in-a-pandemic/

    Wonderful, but a long, long way from relevance to our current predicament–unless the author thinks that the universal de-installation of electric dryers will free up ventilators, critical care beds, paramedics, ambulances, or hospitalists. Hard to see how it would, but I’m sure he’ll explain.

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  3. Pingback: Coronavirus Diary (38): Waiting for the Surge | Policy of Truth

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