Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Afternoon in the ER

Most of my attention was focused on the rattling 6'5" frame that was my son in a world of pain.

But I couldn't help counting the number of people and kinds of test equipment coming in and out of the emergency room cubicle.  Simultaneously, it was hardly enough to take care of my baby, and way too much to pay for.  Each time the door opened, I was grateful we'd bought him a private health insurance policy. 

There was the doctor, two nurses, three technicians, another doctor, and one volunteer.  They delivered four injected medications, two bags of saline, tubes for body fluids, CT scan orders, and blankets (eventually).  We were there a little over four hours before they released my son with instructions for coping with kidney stones. 

What do you think that afternoon in the ER cost?

I can promise you this - if it was more than $100, my self-employed musician son could not afford it. 

The ER was full of people like my son last Tuesday.  Full.  I asked one of our nurses if the frenzied pace he was keeping was normal.

"It's always like this," he said.  "We prioritize on the run.  People dying come first.  People who might die if we don't hurry next.  People who can wait, wait." 

"How do you think it will be when everyone has access to health care?"  I asked him.

"Much better," he was quick to respond.  "People will go to their doctors when they're sick, and come to the ER when it's a real emergency."

Spend an afternoon in an ER waiting room if you don't believe we need health care reform in this country...

If you don't know someone who can't pay for a doctor when he's sick, then you don't get out enough.

If you can honestly look one of those uninsured/underinsured people (who I'm sure you know) in the eye and say, "Sorry you don't have health care like I do," then you're selfish.

If you can deny our systems are overloaded with people in medical crises who might have avoided a dire situation if they'd been able to afford a visit to a doctor, then I'm guessing you haven't looked up from your FOX News channel in quite a while.

And if you think Democrats are defeated by an election in Massachusetts, and are now going to their underground lairs to lick their wounds and play nice with the health reform naysayers, then you've swallowed a pill - which I hope you can pay for - and wandered into Never Never Land.

I pray, for your sake, there's a decent public health care system there.



Anonymous said...

I have been traveling in the northeast this week, with a Canadian, among Republicans. They have been asking him what he thinks about Public Health Care. He tells them that it is not perfect, but that it works very well and is vitally important to everybody who is not one of the upper crust...particularly the young and the old. When they hear about young people dying of fevers and successful now-retired guys dying trying to protect the nest-egg they built for their wife's old age, they are shocked. They thought 90% of America was just like them. Now they are not quite so sure this public health care thing is all bad.

Imagine that.

- DC

gay said...

First, very sorry your son needed to go the the ER in the first place. However, your view on the experience hopefully, has opened some eyes.

jo ann said...

a few years back while traveling with a group in Canada, my Mother fell and knocked her shoulder out of joint. They took her to a clinic there, where she was promptly seen, her shoulder placed back in, given a sling and some pain meds and sent on her way without missing a bit of her tour. The cost? $100.