When the Wind Blows Hard

photo by Starla Smit
photo by Starla Smit

Let us not be surprised when we have to face difficulties.
When the wind blows hard on a tree,
the roots stretch and grow the stronger,
Let it be so with us.
Let us not be weaklings,
yielding to every wind that blows,
but strong in spirit to resist.
~Amy Carmichael

And so the government and its people are at an impasse–the winds of change are pummeling us all and everyone has entrenched more deeply in order to stay upright.

As a U.S. health care provider who has worked for over 30 years as a salaried physician, in non-fee-for-service health care settings providing patient care that meets the need when need arises without profit motive, I am flummoxed by this impasse.  Policy makers could not come up with a more simplistic solution than what is contained in 2000+ pages of complex regulations that are already creating bureaucratic havoc in all health care settings, distracting health care providers with electronic and telephone paperwork that pulls us away from the bedside. The patient and the provider no longer partner together without a dozen other entities dictating the choreography of their dance.

A potential solution to the problem of affordable access to all who need it already exists in the form of the Public Health Service Commissioned Corps with incentive scholarships for medical and nursing training in exchange for work in under-served areas.   An expansion of such a system, requiring funding at a much lower cost than the billions of dollars required by the current health care reform act,  would address the challenges of the uninsured and the uninsurable.

As a medical student in training, I  spent many months providing patient care in Seattle’s exemplary Public Health Hospital and its associated clinics.  Patients traveled hundreds of miles to see the specialists who worked there; the best and the brightest clinicians saw the poorest of the poor inside those walls, but there were a number of physicians and their families I knew who received their care there as well because they knew the people who worked there were devoted to the patient, not to profit.

When the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of government refuse themselves to participate in a health care system they have constructed for the people, then it is not created of the people, by the people, for the people for they are people who get sick and injured just like the rest of us.  What is best for them must be best for us all.

All citizens, and non-citizens inside our borders for whatever reason, should have easy access to affordable health care.   All health care providers should have opportunity to work off the costs of their training to keep the debt load from crushing them for decades to come.

I am grieved that health care has come to this impasse, with government now in a take-no-prisoners mode that clear-cuts us all down to the bare roots.
We need to lean in together for support and quit the fighting that only creates more injury.

We need look no farther than our own commissioned corps of health care officers.  It is an idea whose time has come.

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