To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Observercast

Diagnosis: Blunder

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Not that Gov. Kevin Stitt wasn’t warned … because he was.

Most health professionals, as well as many casual observers, knew the governor’s plan to uproot the Oklahoma Health Lab in Oklahoma City and move it to Stillwater made little physical, fiscal, geographical or common sense. However, Cowboy Kevin was hot to trot and get as much state stuff up to Stillwater, and his OSU alma mater, as possible in his first term of office.

Damn the torpedoes, flu shots, COVID-19 tests, blood screens and other important services the average Okie depends on from the State Health Department lab.

Stitt pushed hard to create a black hole for health care during the transition time from OKC to Stillwater. And guess what? Data is beginning to show up to prove the error of such a boneheaded, politically driven process.

For example, Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in the death rate from COVID-19 infections while Stitt was touting keeping our state open for business, obviously including that of undertakers and funeral homes. Also, some rural hospitals and nursing homes shuttered their doors for a lack of skilled nursing staff.

Yes, Stitt is a businessman and has brought to state government his approach to running the state like a business, which apparently means: [1] inconveniencing the customers; [2] playing raw politics even to the point of losing money; [3] favoring a transition out of OKC when surely the new location was known to cost more, recruiting would be a huge challenge especially for professionals, and many if not most of the existing staff would not want to uproot to countrified Payne County.

But our novice governor was in his heyday of popularity in 2020 so the Legislature rolled over, the Oklahoma City Chamber didn’t say a peep and the grand scheme worked … until it didn’t and now most of the lab is back in its rightful place.

Meanwhile, many people died unnecessarily, mostly from COVID-19, to salve the ego of our governor.

And if this is how to run government like a business, it seems to be a very high price to pay indeed.

Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson
Cal Hobson, a Lexington Democrat, served in the Oklahoma Legislature from 1978-2006, including one term as Senate President Pro Tempore.