June, 2006 Archive

June 29, 2006, 7:23 pm

Begging For Health Care

figure

Boy, talk about “striking a pose”.

Unfortunately, I don’t find this funny at all.

Imagine a family.

Solid “middle-class” if there is such a thing.

Dual professional household.

Four members of the family.

All covered by a Blue Cross PPO.

Now, remember, I said BLUE CROSS. The insurance company that for all of my known life was the GOLD STANDARD when it came to health insurance.

I’ve taken job offers BECAUSE of Blue Cross insurance.

Only now the members of this family need medical care.

The wife has been covered for awhile. She had an internist agree to take her on as a patient many years ago and when he retired she was happily transferred to a wonderful internist in her area.

But the wife’s doctor would not take her husband on because of the impact the retired doctor’s patients had taken on his practice.

No problem. The name of a local physician was received and that doctor agreed to take the husband on as a private patient. But only because the husband’s diabetic labwork “passed” his entrance criteria. He specialized in endocrinology.

So, when the 22-year-old son needed medical clearance before going off to law school, the mom called her excellent physician for a referral.

Oh! The doctor would begin taking new patients on July 1st!!!! Great, the son would like an appointment!

“What insurance does he have?”

Same as his mother. Blue Cross PPO.

Nevermind.

The doctor is no longer taking patients with Blue Cross insurance.

WTF?

“Oh yes, their reimbursement rates are horrible now. They hardly pay for anything after the initial $15.00 co-pay by the patient.”

Okay, do you have the names of any other internists or general practitioners who are taking patients?

A name is given. The practice is closed to new patients.

So, the mother calls the pediatrician of the son. The son who is now 22-years-old.

Three referrals are given by the receptionist.

All three referrals are closed to new patients.

The 22-year-old son goes to see his pediatrician for his check up.

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I’m sure you have figured out by now that I’m talking about my family. We aren’t poor. We aren’t on Medical. We have good jobs and while we have a few health issues, we are compliant with our medical regimens and are motivated to stay healthy.

Between the two of us, a six figure salary.

And we can’t get primary health care for our healthy son. My husband and I are “lucky”. My retired doctor took me on in spite of his office being totally impacted because I was a nurse. My husband got a doctor because he was “diabetic enough”.

But my healthy 22-year-old son can’t get anyone to take him on. So he sees his old pediatrician and stands in line with the five-year-olds to get weighed.

Why?

BECAUSE THE DOCTORS ARE NOT GETTING PAID!

You want an answer to 90% of the problems we have American health care?

PAY THE FREAKIN’ DOCTORS WHAT THEY ARE WORTH!

These men and women have dedicated more than a decade of their life to learning their art and it costs money for them to run their businesses.

PAY THE FRONT-LINE, PRIMARY CARE DOCTORS: THE GENERAL PRACTITIONERS, THE FAMILY PRACTITIONERS, THE PEDIATRICIANS, THE INTERNISTS AND THE OB/GYNS.

If you pay the front-line doctors they will take on the patients who will then have a place to go when they are sick, which will dis-impact the ERs of the country, encourage doctors to practice in rural areas, help stop disease processes before they get to the stage of needing intervention and decrease the number of hospitalizations.

The entrance into the health care system needs to be the local, personal, patient physician. Let them be the gatekeepers, but make then WANT the job by paying them.

Is there any other business where the owner says: “I charge $1.00″ but they are only paid 3 cents?

And don’t tell me the insurance companies don’t have the money. Blue Cross is NOT a poverty-stricken entity.

When doctors stop taking Blue Cross,

When families with a good income can’t find a doctor to take them when they are healthy but need a physician’s care,

Houston, we have a freakin’ problem here.

I can’t even imagine what it is like to be poor and to navigate the health care system. I am sure I have experienced only one iota of what they face trying to find primary health care. And I’m a nurse!

Pay the primary doctors and pay them well.

The other issues will take care of themselves.

Yes, I am passionate about this.

And no, I don’t want the NHS in the USA. Private insurance, affordable and paying the front-line doctors a larger piece of the health care pie.

Geeze, I better go take my blood pressure.

Good thing I have a doctor, just in case…….

Oh, and some day I’ll tell my son’s hilarious story about standing in line with those five-year-olds…..

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3:21 pm

1776-2006: We Rock! Happy Independence Day (Early!)

flag
I wanted to post a Happy Independence Day to the melting pot that is the United States of America

For the first time in my life I will be spending the holiday out of the country and in the Republic of Ireland.

I’m not sure what my wireless connectability will be there so I’m posting just in case I’m not able to visit.

But you can best believe that if there is an internet access I’ll find it.

Just because I’m half way across the world doesn’t mean I won’t try!

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Please keep your nursing or nurse-related posts coming in for Change of Shift! I’ll be putting it all together for the July 13th edition when I come home

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Shameless Self-Promotion Again: new post at Scared to Health

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Oh, and the reason I am so comfortable announcing my trip online is that the old homestead will not be empty.

And those who are housesitting are very adamant about their second amendment rights, if you get my drift.

Plus, Samantha and Sparky, my two 80 pound mutts are always looking for a snack!

Besides, if anything gets stolen, I get a new one, so if you are intending on breaking in, will you please take the 20-year-old RCA console television in the family room?

Thanks!

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2:51 pm

They Laughed And Called Him “Elvis”

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Ain’t no reason to worry about that Avian thingy.

Pooh pooh on the Plague!

Ignore influenza!

Cancel cancer!

We are faced with a much more lethal threat: Dodge Fever.

With Cragar Mag-itis as a side effect.

Even the model/nurse looks like she can’t believe what she is doing.

Great cap, though!

And I had that uniform, although you would have to add six inches to the hemline to really get an idea of what it looked like.

Oh I wore my share of mini-skirts.

Just not to work.

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I’m at my local Starbucks again. Boycotting Borders is not so painful now, I found a nook with plush chairs free for the taking .

What is painful is being subjected to the Dixie Chicks over the speakers, thinking they are idiots yet thinking it takes guts to basically insult their fan base and stick to what ever they believe. Wanting to hate them but not being able to get past the fact that they are one talented buncha gals.

Why can’t singers just sing nice 3-minute “symphonies” (as Phil Spector called them) and keep their politics to themselves?

If this is their new album, it’s really good.

Somebody help me.

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grease

He didn’t look a thing like Elvis.

In fact he looked exactly like this photo of “Grease”.

Right down to the pink shirt under the black suit, a pink carnation on his jacket; his greased hair forming a pincurl in the middle of his forehead.

It was as though he had seen the movie and morphed into character.

My co-workers laughed at him and called him “Elvis”.

To this day I don’t know why.

All I could think of was “Danny Zuko” (and to try and suppress the urge to ask him if could dance).

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He stood over six feet tall.

As far as I know the suit was the only thing he owned. I know it was the only thing I ever saw him wear.

Asleep in the hospital lobby.

Walking the streets when I’d spot him on my way to work.

Walking the streets when I left work in the morning.

Sitting in a local coffee shop (this was in the pre-Starbucks era).

He was homeless.

And strangely compelling.

And somewhat intimidating.

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He had no family, as far as we knew.

And his frequent visits to our ER were never without their drama.

He’d often have “seizures”, his lanky frame would be found on the floor.

Fortunately these “seizures” always ended up with with his arms cradling his head, so he never suffered a head injury.

In fact, the only reason we “knew” they were “seizures” is that he told us and explained every detail of how they happened.

What an amazing ability!

I guess some people just have the knack.

The knack for trying to get a bed in the hospital so they’d have a place to stay.

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Somehow I always winded up with him as my patient.

Apparently it was because I always did “so well” with the psych patients.

Yeah, right.

I was a very young nurse and just a bit leery of this giant of a man dressed like John Travolta on a dance floor.

Smelling like a 5-day-old digested margarita.

One day, he refused to come “out” of his seizure, his head cradled in his forearms as he lay on the cool tile floor that was probably laid sometime in the ’50s.

Appropriate, in a way.

He even managed to land at an angle so that he fit in the room without hitting any furniture.

Enough was enough.

Finally our City’s Finest had to come and assist the patient to an amazing recovery.

Not even post-ictal!

In fact, rather coherently obnoxious. I heard a few four-letter-words for the first time that day. I do believe one of them was directed at my anatomy.

(No wait, I had heard it once or twice in “Saturday Night Fever”. It began with a “c”. They edit it out of all the broadcast network versions.)

He was discharged in cuffs to the local authorities.

They knew him well.

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That was the last time I saw him.

He came to mind again, for the first time in almost three decades as I watched “Grease” on TV last night.

I wonder how I would have handled our interactions had I been older, with a bit more experience.

I know I would have tried to find out more of what he was thinking, how he came to be in the circumstances he found himself and what exactly those circumstances were.

I know it bothered me that my colleagues laughed at him.

It still bothers me that people laughed at him.

There was nothing but homelessness and helplessness in that man’s life.

Under that ETOH-soaked persona lay a mental illness.

He’s what they refer to today as “dual-diagnosis”.

Back then he was just a joke and an inconvenience.

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In keeping with the “Grease” theme, a quote from “Summer Lovin’”:

“Wonder what he’s doin’ now?”

He’d be an older man – he was in his early 40s back then.

And you know what?

I’d like to believe he could have danced John Travolta under the table.

(Grease photo: Copyright © Paramount Pictures)

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About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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