Friday, February 15, 2008

Busy days...

Things have been busy for us lately. I guess they're always busy! And, likely to remain so....

I just thought I'd take a few minutes to tell some stories. It's always so moving to me to be allowed to take part in the stories of people's lives. And, I consider it a privilege.

I want to tell you about a man I have known for a few years. He's a little younger than me; in his mid-thirties. He and his family are out patients. I recall how, a few years ago, he had told me about his concern that his neighborhood wasn't safe for his family. He was worried about having young children in a home where drug deals and prostitution sometimes took place just outside his front door. He was very happy to be able to sell that home, and move into a nicer suburban neighborhood. He and his wife have both been working hard to provide this for their children.

Well, I saw him a couple of weeks ago. His wife has had to have surgery, and is now unable to work, at least for several weeks. He tells me that he's on the verge of bankruptcy, will be losing his house, his car, and doesn't know where he's going to take his family.

In this time of political debate, I'm hearing some of my friends talk about "personal responsibility". But, I can't help but think that my patient has nothing to be ashamed of with regard to his decisions. He has kept his family's well-being as his priority. He and his wife have worked hard to provide a safe home and neighborhood for his children. And, it certainly wasn't a "moral failure" or "lack of responsibility" that led his wife to surgery. In fact, he tells me that it was his wife's work that led to the injury which required surgical care - somewhat ironic, I'd say.

Now, to talk more about that concept of "personal responsibility", I still wonder what "they" would say that my patient should do now. I get that question stuck in my head when I hear that a doctor or a medical practice has decided that they will no longer be seeing patients with (fill in the blank: no insurance/Medicaid/Medicare/Tricare...). So, if they were sitting across the exam table from that patient, what would they say the patient should do now? Okay, if you can't see them, who will? If I can't refer the man with the broken hand to the hand surgeon, what would you suggest I say to him, when I sit with him?

My wife used to take those phone calls, in her work as a medical assistant. And, she would tell patients, "I'm sorry; we're not taking your insurance." She now says that she had no idea that it meant that the patient might not get care - she assumed "someone else" was going to take care of the patient.

Well, that's my job - to take care of the patient that can't find care elsewhere. But, there just aren't enough parnters in my practice to take on all that burden...

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A thought about the subject of personal responsibilty.... If our society worked the way it was originally intended to work our friends, neighbors,co-workers and churches, would take on the responsibility to meet the needs of each individual. In fact when I was a child, each county had a county run hospital that took care of the poor and integent. It was quality care too. But at some point in history, greed stepped in and took over the medical industry,and the drug industry making it impossible for the individuals to be responsible for their healthcare due to high cost. This brought in the era of state run programs to provide healthcare. Now there is talk about federally run healthcare. I find it extremely sad that our nation has gotten to the point that communities turn their face away from the individuals with sincere needs, such as the man you wrote about. A legitimate need. Our society doesn't care anymore. They know the government will step in and save the day. Politics are on everyone's minds right now. But the root of this problem isn't political. It's personal. It's greed of the heart. Greed at the cooporate levels of business and government. It is in fact all of our problems. Not republican and not democratic, but nationally. Our elected political leaders have spent countless years pointing the finger at each other, that they have lost sight of the immense needs. They have allowed this snowball to become so large that it can't be stopped. Perhaps they need to join together and agressively address this problem. But in reality, shouldn't we all look inside of our hearts and extend a hand to our neighbors and communities? Will we ever get back to the time when we took care of each other? That's doubtful. But we can join together with those who have not lost sight of compassion and care for the poor. So.... as I step back and take an overall look at this subject I see things that I don't like. I see things on the horizon that scare me. I dont' want our healthcare to be put in the hands of the governent, but I can't see another solution. I find it to be extremely sad that that enormous machine called government has divided us. No wonder communities don't love one another. We are encouraged to divide. We are encouraged to be partison. We are encouraged to seperate. Why can't we be united politically to make some progress. We all have our own personal ideas as to how this problem can be fixed. But in reality, we have to begin in our hearts. We, as the people of this great nation have created this problem. Not one political party or another, but us individually have created this disaster. As corny as it sounds, the old saying can be applied here. Why can't we all just love one another? Shouldn't we be a nation united through love and prayer asking for guidance and forgiveness? That is the only place I know of to start, so that is what I will do. I will take the personal responsibility to pray for loving humane solutions and the softening of greedy hearts.

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