Institutional Personality

This is not the time to write this, but I want to jot it down right quick before I forget.  Institutions actually have personalities.   It is related to the legal fiction that a corporation is a person under American law, but much more tangible.   To be direct: a corporation is a “person” with only one consideration– maximizing profit to itself and its shareholders.  The corporation, as a person, is essentially a very powerful psychopath, a constantly advancing predator incapable of anything but feeding.   Institutions, in contrast to the stark personality type that is the modern corporate “person”, actually have distinct personalities.  These institutional personalities are expressed in how they treat the people they deal with.

I give one example, then I’m out of here.  Two hospitals, both with fine doctors (and asshole doctors) both with considerate support staff (and inconsiderate support staff).   This is about their institutional personalities.

Columbia has a hospital, it’s corporate identity has changed a few times in recent years, it was called Columbia Presbyterian for many years, it’s now New York-Presbyterian, apparently.  The hospital has no Patient Advocate or ombudsperson.  Its billing is done by a third party.  The bills they send are non-negotiable.  Sometimes the bills turn out to have been sent in error, but in all cases they are the responsibility of the patient to pay or make excuses to the third party billing service until they can be straightened out with the insurance company. There is no discount offered, the fee is the fee and it is not negotiable.  If you are indigent, and can prove it at an off-site office, charity may pay your outstanding bill.  Otherwise, have a nice day, you will get collection letters from our attorneys if you do not remit.  

From time to time the Columbia hospital non-profit corporation sends, amid collection letters from their lawyers, solicitation letters touting their generous service to the community and seeking your tax deductible donation.  This institutional personality is what’s known as an asshole.  The personality likely reflects that of the wealthy, supremely talented twat who accepts his multi-million dollar salary to captain the charitable ship of the hospital he’s so rightfully proud of.

NYU hospital, next door to Bellevue, is another large, non-profit operation.  I had a problem recently getting medical records.  One call to a very nice woman at the Patient Advocate’s office quickly resolved the problem.   I’d been informed two weeks earlier, that I owed $2,100 out of pocket, an advance payment, before they’d perform the renal biopsy the following day.   When I expressed dismay and asked about financial assistance, I was given the number of an office that quickly relieved me of the $2,100 copay, based on my income and the large payment my insurance was making on my behalf.   I had a letter confirming the waiver two days later.  When I got NYU’s solicitation letter the other day, I did not feel bitter at all.  

It would not surprise me at all if the board members and executives of Columbia and NYU eat dinner together every week at the same exclusive club, frequent the same high class house of prostitution, support draconian economic policies that only benefit them and indulge in every other refined behavior that goes with being in the 1%.  I only know what I have experienced of the personality of the two institutions.  I prefer the one that is not the asshole.


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