Vol. 6, Issue 8, September 23, 2008
Small-Town Alaskan Pediatrician to Head Walter Reed Medical Center
As part of sweeping reforms intended to address allegations of poor patient care at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), the White House has announced that it has appointed Jimmy Benson, a pediatrician from the small town of Wasilla, Alaska, as the new director of the 5,500 room facility.
"We feel confident that Doctor Benson will be able to restore American confidence in this great medical institution," said President Bush in a press conference with the affable Benson, 36. "If he can take care of patients on the Alaskan frontier, it stands to reason that he can sure take care of our soldiers back here in D.C."
The appointment comes as something of a surprise, as Benson is not actually a member of the military and has not formerly directed a hospital facility. However, this lack of related experience is actually seen as a strength, rather than a weakness, by many observers.
"Let's face it: thousands of people die in hospitals every year," said Donnie Jerome, a spokesperson for the White House. "The people leading these hospitals have plenty of so-called 'expertise' and 'experience' and 'medical degrees'. Clearly, relevant experience and certification from creditable institutions is not the answer. I'd take a local horse doctor with common sense over some Harvard-educated elitist any day."
Benson is, in fact, described as just such a fellow, a well-liked softball coach and fixture in the local bowling league. He insists that managing his practice of 55 patients, who are mostly under the age of 12, has provided him with more than enough valuable experience to manage Walter Reed.
"See, it comes down to taking your medicine," said Benson. "I remember this one kid, Harry Buckman, he just really didn't want to take this antibiotic. So I told him, 'Real Alaskan men, Harry, take their medicine. Now I know you shot that wolf out back of the elementary school last week during recess. I know you're ready to be a man. So step up, son!' And you know what? He did. I imagine it'll be the same with soldiers missing limbs and stuff."
WRAMC serves more than 150,000 active and retired personnel from all branches of the military. The main medical facility consists of approximately 5,500 rooms covering more than 28 acres of floor space. In 2007, the facility came under attack for substandard care and the commanding general, Maj. Gen. George W. Weightman, was forced to resign. Benson's appointment is the result of a months-long series of investigative hearings following the scandal.
"I realized that, as with so many Washington institutions, the problem was that Walter Reed was out of touch with America," said President Bush in a press conference. "We needed to go back to what makes America great. It's not fancy ribbons or time spent in the Beltway. It's hard work on the ranch, common sense from a regular guy. That's why I knew Jimmy was our man." Apparently the President and Dr. Benson first met through an online poker website. "Let me tell you, Jimmy knows his cards," said the President. "He's got more than a few of my nickels."
The medical community has roundly criticized Benson's appointment, claiming that his experience and qualifications are "beyond inadequate." Some papers have also unearthed evidence that Benson's 15 year old son has been arrested twice for vandalism.
"Boys will be boys," chuckled Benson as he cleaned his glasses with a handkerchief. "I never was much for discipline."
Benson's appointment may not be the last one from small-town Alaska. Enthused by Benson's sudden grassroots popularity, and enticed by the credibility inherent in the 'frontier' atmosphere of Alaska, Congressional leaders and government agencies are scouring the state for potential candidates to fill jobs ranging from Surgeon General to Supreme Court Justice.
"There's all kinds of great people up there!" beamed President Bush. "Who knew?"