Health Care Reality

There is no sense at this point in debating the merits of the Health Care Reform bill. It’s a done deal, thankfully. Unfortunately, like everything else, politics always plays a major role. It’s more important to many of our representatives to vote in a manner that is less controversial, therefore maintaining a likelihood of reelection, than to vote for what they know is a needed change. As many experts pointed out from the beginning, provisions that Republicans vehemently fought to keep out are the same provisions taken from the health plan that each member of congress has. Keeping politics out of major legislation is like seeing a Republican in a inner city health clinic. It’s simply not going to happen………

The crowded waiting room at the South Central Family Health Center in Los Angeles, CA as patients wait for medical care.

I’ve spent time shooting some stories on community based health centers and on overcrowded emergency rooms. I’ve been inside and seen the overflow crowds waiting patiently to see a doctor or practitioner. They come with children and aging parents, lining up before the doors open and sitting for hours. The vast majority are uninsured, I’m told. They don’t pay for the services, but the cost is passed onto the taxpayers. This system has been broken for decades, if not longer. So the HCR legislation, though not perfect by anyone’s account, is the first step in a concentrated effort to fix things. Let’s take one step at a time and accept that change will occur over time. Just like during the Civil Rights movement (which a mere 50 yrs ago was at the center of “controversial” legislation like HCR), let’s not be scared off by the right’s vitriolic attacks on reform.


Coincidence or a Sign?

I’m a huge believer in destiny. Always have been. The greatest book I’ve ever read was Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist which is a fictional tale of a sheepherder who feels he has a destiny pulling him but wonders if he has gotten off the path. Without turning this into a book review (since most of you have probably read it anyhow), let’s just agree that it deals with all the “signs” that you might or might not notice as you journey through life. Those signs are key. They’ll often indicate if you’re on the path to your own destiny (in the book it’s called your own personal legend) or if you’ve wandered astray.

Not all signs in life are so pivotal, so vital as to be life changing. Some are designed to simply raise your awareness. I had one of those moments this past week.


Crowded waiting room at the South Central Family Health Center in Los Angeles

I shot an assignment a little over a week ago at a community health center in Los Angeles. The story dealt with Federal stimulus money finding it’s way to health organizations that aid the poor, mostly immigrant community. The shoot was simple enough. Having done similar stories in years past, I was prepared for the crowded waiting room. Sure enough, within an hour of opening at 7am, the waiting room at the South Central Family Health Center had nearly 50 people waiting.

As I drove home I reflected on how calm and tranquil all the patients were. No one was screaming that it was their turn. Children quietly minded their time, adults sat quietly and waited as they likely had hundreds of times before. This is their life. This is the norm when their child has a cold or dad injured himself at work. Sit and wait half the day for health care.

I didn’t know until Sunday night that it was a sign. Sunday night I ended up visiting an emergency room for a large rash and four day headache. I literally was the only one in the waiting room. I had to sit for about 20 minutes and found myself actually getting irritated. My brother was in town visiting and I wanted to get this over with and get home. Why was it taking so long anyway, I thought to myself with irritation. Then my wife read a posting stating that the hospital  no longer accepted Medical and I immediately flashed back to my assignment at the South Central Family Health Center. I felt foolish at my irritation of having to wait less than a half hour to be seen by doctors. I ended up spending the night in the hospital and receiving excellent care, but I believe now that the assignment I shot followed by my ER visit a week later were destined to remind me that I need to be more patient in life. How else could I interpret these two events?