A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)
Yes, I said it. I think the focus on the swine flu is more than a bit extreme.
Yes, it is true that it is a more harsh form of the flu, but it is still just a flu, isn’t it? Why suddenly are we as society, domestically and globally, so concerned with this particular strain of the flu? I have yet to see clear evidence that this is truly something to be concerned with at pandemic levels, especially when there are other much more serious medical issues to be concerned with, both within America’s borders and throughout the global community.
Within America, millions of people go without any medical treatment at all. They are not privy to legal protections that allow them the right to go to a county hospital and sit for eighteen hours and be able to work with the hospital for payment of the bill, or complete waiving of said bill. Sometimes, people wait so long to see a doctor, that a solution to the problem is no longer available.
And sometimes, even with insurance, the co-payment of 20% is such a hindrance in maintaining the normal life function of a person, that the harassing calls to get $75, after being paid $500 from the insurance, does more harm to the patient than good for the doctors’ offices being relentless in their pursuit of collecting such a small amount of money.
What ever happened to the days where the patient’s needs were the most important?
I recall learning about a time in history that when a person didn’t have the monetary means to pay a doctor, they exchanged goods or services. The patient was simply put first. There wasn’t this overwhelming need to make money from the transaction, though when a patient had traditional form of payment, that was expected.
I think this change in America speaks to a greater underlying issue that one of my students brought up in class: in America, those with money and good insurance see the doctor a lot, whereas the poor and uninsured do not.
But at least in America, the conditions are, for the most part, sanitary and effective.
When I was in Thailand, the group I was with visited a Burmese refugee hospital near the border of Thailand and Burma. The hospital ‘hallways’ were simply muddy walkways between rooms, rooms that only had half walls and barely a roof. Mud was continually tracked in and invaded the supposedly sterile operating area. It was amazing the success rate this clinic had when working to help people.
But many do die here, as well as other poor conditioned medical facilities throughout the world. So why then do I even bring it up? Simply put, it is in these places that we are reminded that the true purpose of medicine is to help the patient survive or die in comfort.
The patient really does need to come first.