What's this Blog About?

Politics in Wisconsin as they roll up to every level... and some other thoughts that may cross my mind are explored here from my lefty point of view. My values shape my opinions. You'll always find them in here. Let's have some fun exploring why Liberal values are American values!

Your comments are both welcome and encouraged!
(The watercolor is called Magnolia Tree for Momma, by Audrey Crawford)

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Women's Health Under Attack: The Columbia-St Mary's Merger and the decline of Shorewood

Years ago, I was pregnant with my second child and my doctor who had priviledges at both Columbia Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital on Milwaukee's East Side off-handedly mentioned to me that when I went into labor, I should make the effort to go to Columbia instead of St. Mary's (only about a mile apart).

Being the curious type, I asked why. She explained that although she had priviledges at both hospitals, she only delivers and does surgical work at Columbia. Again, I pushed as to why... "Well", she said, " if I deliver at St Mary's and something goes wrong, I have fewer options to save your life than I do at Columbia. I also cannot tie women's tubes for birth control purposes, administer an IUD, or offer comprehensive birth control options of any kind out of St. Mary's. They are a Catholic Hospital and I'm not able to freely take care of my patients needs because of that. Columbia is not Catholic and so, I'm fully able to care for my patients in their facility."

I asked, if I got into a car accident, was bleeding to death, and the doctor had to choose between my life and that of a, first term fetus, at Columbia I would live, and at St. Mary's I would die?

"Yes", she confirmed, unless she could get me from St. Mary's to Columbia before I died, so she asked all her patients to go directly to Columbia if at all possible and refused to do any procedures at St. Mary's unless it was absolutely necessary. I was dumb-founded. I had no idea that the difference between my life and my death could depend on which hospital my ambulance driver chose to drive to!

So now, the East Side has a dilemna. Columbia and St. Mary's Hospitals have merged. This means that one of their policies has to take precedence. Guess what? St. Mary's has won. The new collaborative hospital will no longer provide comprehensive women's health services. No more tubal ligations, no more prescriptions can be written for emergency contraception, nearly all birth control services are no longer allowed. Doctors, especially OBGYN's, are leaving the new collaborative hospital in droves stating they cannot ethically care for their patients under the new rules.

The East Side of Milwaukee no longer has emergency women's health care available for women. So what other options are there? Well, Planned Parenthood will always be available for women (unless the Republican State legislators have their way). Although it is not a full service emergency hospital and so it's ability to aid a pregnant women bleeding out from a car accident is limited. St. Joseph's is the next nearest full hospital, then there's St. Luke's and Aurora Sinai, all with assumably similar rules, and that leaves basically only Froedert Hospital - County Hospital, 15-20 miles away through city traffic or bad freeways...if you have access to a car. Scott Walker would love to turn this over to a private entity like he did with the Milwaukee County Museum (cause that worked out so well).

In other words, the merger of Columbia and St. Mary's Hospitals puts women's health in serious jeopardy and NO ONE is talking about it!!!

So a small clinic on Good Hope Road decides that since they believe in comprehensive women's health, they are going to help out the East Side. Shorewood wants to close down Riverbrook Restaurant (the old classic Pig n Whistle for those of you long time Milwaukeeans and some say the impetus for Arnold's on Happy Days) on East Capitol Drive (it's doing just fine, but some suspect that too many black people enjoy the restaurant now, so it's become an eye sore at the entrance to Shorewood).

The original proposal was that this clinic build a comprehensive women's health center on the site that would provide all the services legally available to women including tubal ligations and comprehensive family planning/birth control education and services. It would be a full service women's OBGYN hospital for the East Side, Northern Suburbs, Riverwest and as some suspect could be the problem, the North Side.

Shorewood is going through an interesting stage right now. As the residents grow ever more Progressive, the leadership seems to be hell bent on making Shorewood a "Business District". An internal battle has ensued. It started with the new library. Family friendly people wanted it, those who's kids had left the nest, thought it was a waste of money. I have little kids who now use it several times a week. Money well spent as far as I'm concerned.

Soon, proposals for new developments all over Shorewood sprung up (mainly outrageously priced, small ie 2 bdrm, condos). Along with skyrocketing home values and new yuppies condos everywhere, came some nice things also, new coffee shops, stores and restaurants that although high end, are nice to have in a "walkable community".

Then, came the parking problems. City rules dictate how many parking spaces need to be available per condo or new business, and plans for new stuff kept getting approved until suddenly no more could be built under city parking rules. Parking became a major issue and proposals for angle parking up residential streets to drive traffic into already busy school zones drove residents to village hall in fits.

All this is underscored by the more family friendly people who recognize that the ONLY reason people choose to live in high priced Shorewood is because the outstanding school district means kids are better educated, controlled and kept busy out side of school hours, ie, less juvenile crime. State rules have tried to even out all of the money and now Shorewood has a big problem. They only get money from the state by the number of students enrolled annually (as do all school districts).

The new development and high priced housing, and local taxes given away for all these new business development incentives means that large families especially, and lower middle class smaller families definitely, can no longer afford to live in Shorewood. A house across the street from my parents a few years back had a nice family with 3 children. When they left and sold the property because of property taxes, it was so high priced that a huge 4 bedroom house was finally purchased by a single woman with no children. No families could afford it. The school system's woes are directly related to the UN-family friendly cost of living in Shorewood. A Catch-22!

People want to live in Shorewood because of the excellent school system, but families with children cannot afford to live here, making property taxes rise to make up for the money the schools don't get from the state for lower enrollment, (so more families cannot afford to live here) and services in the school system are cut making many of us wonder if it's worth the cost to live here if the school system is in the tank ($700,000 short fall in the budget for next year alone!). Vicious cycle!

So what's the answer. Well, Shorewood has these new development plans for massive construction all over the village. I was at the new library this week (I LOVE it) and the plans were posted for all to see.

So what jumped out at me? Condos, condos, condos, condos, condos, condos....all 2 bedroom and all outrageously expensive (all with "cute little shopping boutiques" on the first level)! No less than 15 individual new condo projects are planned in Shorewood over the next few years. While the Progressives are screaming that we need more affordable family housing in the village to solve our woes (more kids=more state funds=lower taxes=better school system=higher property values). Some developer has hijacked our city planners and decided that what Shorewood really needs is more yuppie and retirement housing - out of price range for young familes and not big enough for maturing ones.

So how does this all tie into the plans for a Hospital on Shorewood's Capitol Drive border? Well, the Village has turned down the plans for the women's hospital and instead wants to put in...you guessed it...condos with cute little shopping boutiques. Some think that it's racist (a comprehensive women's hospital could attract black people into the village's edge), some speculate that it's part of the grand white supremecy plan (see John Gibson's statements below), some think and are probably right that the city planning board has been infiltrated by the developers and some unknown undue influence is being exerted on the village.

I think it's just a shame. Shorewood has a chance to stand up as a village and say "We will NOT fall influence to money and religious pandering." and become a leader in the country for being the type of village we have always been proud to call ourselves. Progressive, forward thinking, the proverbial "village that raises a child". Instead, we are being blindly led along with the rest of the country into an over developed nightmare conceived with no vision as to who we are as a village and who we want to be in ten years.

Now, I know Milwaukeeans and others around the state are saying to themselves, I should have such problems in my community. You do!!! The problems in the city and around Wisconsin are all due to the same sort of short sighted - let the developers do as they please - attitude.

For example, there is no affordable housing being built in downtown Milwaukee or along the river walk. None at all. Yet, drive up North Avenue and new affordable housing developments are springing up all over the place. Why? To keep the city as segregated as possible. If affordable housing was built in downtown Milwaukee, some blacks in Milwaukee may be able to live there, by pandering with a few new nice reasonably priced developments on North Avenue, they keep blacks where "they belong" in "their own neighborhood". I'm not against the affordable housing on North Avenue I might add, but against the LACK of it in the downtown, east side and suburban areas.

Someone had to speak up and if no one else will discuss these issues (ie the faux newspaper the Journal Sentinel) it's up to us in the blogger community to shed some light.

Comments welcome! Renee


robola said...

I see this clouded segregation everyday in the city; neighborhoods magically switch from white to black within a few blocks or the rising condos downtown that start at a "mere" $300,000. It's frustrating to know we're forsaking our city's genuine need for integration in favor of a business-first development policy that only weakens the city in the long run.

Very good post, Renee! I'm going to link to it later tonight.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that family friendly areas are not as likely to develop in areas that are strongly pro-abortion? That political and demographic trend seems to be increasingly borne out in the US.

Crawford's Take said...

Not sure what you mean by "family friendly areas" having anything to do with as you put it "pro-abortion" areas. The East side of Milwaukee is one of the family friendliest places in the United States and having a full service clinic for women has never discouraged families. In my scenario, the woman dies. How is that family friendly? I have to take issue with you even using the term "pro-abortion". In my lifetime, I've never met anyone who is "pro-abortion". Allowing a woman and her doctor to decide the best care for a particular situation has nothing to do with being pro-abortion. I am pro-life. Most anti-choice advocates are only pro-birth. If they cared about the life of the child, they would support everything from welfare to job training to school lunches to comprehensive and quality education guaranteed through college to gay adoption as ways to improve the LIVES of the children who do come into this world instead of caring about their tax cuts.

Georgia said...

Milwaukee has ALWAYS had not-so-subtle segregation... Who can forget the WWII stronghold of PRO-Nazi supporters right there in beautiful Milwaukee????

Lest we forget - the tactics Police Chief Harold Brier used on ANYONE who dared to disagree with him on radio or television??? (If you have forgotten or just plain didn't know - Brier sent a 'goon squad' of MPD employees to visit folks that disagreed with him... )

Equality is a myth perpetuated by those of us who wish it to be so.

What do we do?

Vote. Vote on EVERY issue.

(and as an aside - the Milwaukee daily newspaper should be called 'The Milwaukee Urinal' - it is such a yellow rag!)

sheila said...

Crawford, has anything been in the news about this merger recently?
Thank you,
Sheila (formerly of Milwaukee and now based in NYC working with MergerWatch Project www.mergerwatch.org).

Crawford's Take said...

No, the local media won't cover it and so far, nothing has been done to resolve the problem, but I have doctors (OBGYN)who will verify the info... The clinic in Shorewood fell through and now what used to be county hospital is now Froederdt on the West Side of Milwaukee and they are now talking about also merging with Columbia St Mary's. I have no idea how that will affect services for the city of Milwaukee except that the Aurora Health System (only on Milwaukee's South Side) is the only system left besides Froederdt to provide those services in a hospital setting in Milwaukee. Email me at rcrwfd@gmail.com to discuss further if you have any ideas!