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This country is enjoying an unprecedented period of prosperity, fueled in large measure by Silicon Valley, the creation of Stanford University. This prosperity has not reached the pockets of poverty throughout the country. Even booming Silicon Valley has serious problems, which have hit Stanford.
U.S.News (7/19) featured a detailed survey of "America's Best Hospitals." It is fashionable to deride the ratings in these surveys, but they are carefully prepared and broadly significant. Stanford hospitals, which used to rate highly, comes out very badly. Neither it nor the UCSF hospital figure in the "honor roll" of 13 hospitals. Johns Hopkins, in depressed Baltimore, comes out first. In several specialties, Stanford is not even in the first fifty. In a number of cases, Stanford did not even reply to the questionnaire sent out by the American Hospital Association.
This is symptomatic of serious trouble. Following a series of budget miscalculations, leading to a horrendous deficit, Stanford blamed Medicare, but hosėtals elsewhere did well in the survey even though they had the same problems with Medicare. Stanford fired thousands of workers, whose protests were not heard. The faculty is demoralized. My own doctor has quit. All this is happening in the most prosperous region in the world.
The same issue of U.S. News has another article which has a bearing on this problem. It is entitled "Down and out in Silicon Valley. A Severe Housing Crisis threatens the high-tech center's amazing boom". The high cost of housing is driving people out and discouraging faculty members invited to Stanford. It is a serious problem for the University.
Two loud and opposing groups, neither of which shows much appreciation for the university´s problem, are aggravating the problem. Some happily settled here do not want to be disturbed, and the Greens object to any development. I look out over the foothills and I would not be unhapy to see there buildings hidden by trees and shrubbery. They would actually be more attractive than the dried-out grasses. The charm of many European hill towns is due to such a happy combination. Back of the foothills are the majestic forest preseves, which are protected and must remain pristine.
Ronald Hilton - 08/05/99