It's been hard to go an hour in the Valley lately without seeing our local hospital's latest advertising campaign. The "Your Health" campaign features actual hospital staff routinely committing that they are there for, what else, your health. While cheesy, this ad campaign has taken a turn for the offensive. A recent string of heavily aired ads features a doctor delivering mental health services while a voice over asserts that the hospital is therevoice-over for your "LGBTQ+ health"; a heavy-handed implication that the only distinctly queer health concern is mental health. Many in the gay community also pointed out the hospital's low-budget entry into the recent PRIDE parade and decry the efforts as nothing more than opportunistic capitalism.
We first took our investigation to Doctor Jamie Huntress who is, as the commercials claim, a board-certified and fully credentialed Doctor of Psychiatry. We asked Doctor Huntress why she would participate in such an insensitive campaign and her response was enlightening. "I was only asked to participate in filming what was called 'B-roll'. I was to sit in a chair and nod, expressly told not to speak, and repeatedly requested to make my face more 'feminine' and 'cute'. The experience was awful, to begin with, but then seeing how they used me as a token gay was entirely revolting." We then asked about the disingenuous and low-budget float the hospital entered into the parade and what happened to any municipal money the hospital may have allocated. Doctor Huntress was open with us, "There was no money. I was told my work on the float was required and specifically instructed the budget was exactly zero. I spent $38.67 of my own money to make the float possible. That doesn't irk me nearly as much as the cleanup." As Doctor Huntress explained her involvement it became perfectly clear that the hospital board felt that pawning off the assignment to an LGBTQ+ staff member would somehow make it all acceptable. She continued, "The board expected me to clean up the hospital's entry despite also scheduling me to attend in the E.R., a $600 parking ticket was issued that they refuse to reimburse me for." Entirely revolting was an apt description even before we learned of the chauvinistic treatment of female staff members; is parade cleanup really the best use of a licensed physician's time?
After speaking with Doctor Huntress we began asking employees of the hospital and their stories became far too familiar. Their jobs were literal dead-ends with little or no hope for advancement and they navigated a perilous workplace teeming with sexist comments and attitudes. As our investigation continued, so to did the unrest on social media and the calls for the board member seen as responsible, Mr. William Starkley III, to resign.
Current board member Mr. William Starkley III could not be reached by phone, but when we caught up to him preparing for a charity golf outing he replied, "That thing about the gay parade? Ask what's her name. Huntress. She's one of them and knows all about it. Hey, check out this drive!" Upon investigation of Mr. Starkley's credentials, we were shocked to discover that he holds no medical degree of any kind. In fact, it would appear he inherited his position from William Starkley II who himself held no medical degree. It seems the entire Starkley political dynasty in the Valley is based on nepotism, suckling off the teat of success of Doctor William Starkley Junior who passed away nearly thirty years ago. Starkley's fumbled response to our question, his lack of credentials, and his apparent dissociation from the community certainly make the calls for his resignation seem a lot more valid!