So Consumer Reports puts Newton Medical Center at the bottom of their ratings for surgery results. Steve Kelly makes sure that everyone knows that patient survey reports put NMC at or above the national averages in each category, including surgery results. Perhaps Mr. Kelly should do a survey of his employees and how they are treated there.

In an earlier article about NMC we were told that it is offering a wonderful, compassionate plan for people to pay for their hospital bills. Nothing was said about the employees. A friend of mind has worked there for over 10 years and is making $10.50 per hour. She started at $7.50 per hour 10 years ago. She has had her hours (and so have other employees) cut by eight hours every two weeks, and there are many days she shows up to work, only to be sent home because there isn't enough for her to do. Another cut in her hours.

And this is where the compassion comes in. That same friend was diagnosed with breast cancer. She worked throughout four months of chemotherapy. Of course she was miserable; ask anyone who has been through that. She went back to work shortly after her double mastectomy, and then continued to work through six weeks of radiation. She had to work because she couldn't afford not to work. She's supposed to have reconstructive surgery before the end of the year, but she has no more hours of paid time off to do that. If she puts it off until next year, she has to pay another deductible, which of course she can't afford.

The compassionate people at Newton Medical Center and their in-house insurance were the first to bill her for her treatment, and her bill was sent to collections within a month. Ah yes, compassion for the poor. Bull. They want their money, period. It doesn't matter if they take it from their employees, or anybody else. And they certainly don't care if they are paying their employees what those employees are worth. Oops; that's incorrect. I'm sure they're paying their surgeons, who are rated at the bottom, more than they are worth.

If I am incorrect about anything I've said, I will be fine with writing a letter to this same newspaper stating that.

— Charlie Snook Newton