Looking At Our Health Care System From Within

A trip the the emergency room provides a firsthand look at what the Democrats could very well destroy

Over the past few weeks now, my wife and I have been spending a good deal of time at hospitals and emergency rooms. While more details would be inappropriate at this time, and it’s certainly nothing truly life-threatening, I’m actually typing this from an emergency room bay right now.

Inevitably, I think of health care reform. It’s hard not to, what with the steady stream of doctors and nurses and aides coming in from outside the pastel curtain, and the cacophony of beeps, bleeps and whirring noises coming from the machines in the rooms adjacent to this one.

Folks, we cannot let this happen. We cannot hand over our health care system to the federal government. From my position now on the edge of the room, I can see into the bulk of the ER, and even on what one of the nurses described as an eerily quiet Wednesday morning, I’ve seen a dozen people walking or being wheeled in and attended to for various forms of duress.

There’s a certain confidence here, among the staff as well as the few patient family members I’ve locked eyes with as mothers, fathers, sons or daughters are eased into rooms like this one. And they should be confident. We have all the technology we need at our disposal. We have the very beat doctors, nurses and support staff.

A few things this morning have compelled me to tap away at my smartphone between visits from various personnel, as my wife patiently awaits bloodwork while watching The Price is Right.

First, in the waiting room about an hour ago, as we sat for a few minutes before being called back into triage and into the ER itself, I overheard some sort of hospital staffer discussing various treatment venues with a young black family. Their health care decisions, specifically with regard to where they could go to treat whatever the problem was, were being based upon out-of-pocket costs and a lack of health insurance rather than what was best for the patient.

That, folks, is unacceptable. While the federal government has no business whatsoever in the health care business, from either a constitutional authority or common sense standpoint, we absolutely must reform our health care system so the fewest possible Americans are in the position of the family who were sitting across the waiting room this morning. And you do that by dissolving the relationship between employment and health insurance. You do that by facilitating the free market through opening up the private insurance market to interstate competition. You do that by allowing individuals and small businesses to pool their risk and achieve buying power. And you do that by providing incentive for providers to establish catastrophic care options for people with preexisting conditions.

Second, I found myself amazed as I watched the triage nurse arrange for a bed for Joanna. The computer system was incredible. Everything in the hospital was at that girl’s fingertips — she knew who was in each bed in each room, she knew who the doctors and nurses were in charge of those beds and patients, she knew the medication and procedure orders, the vital signs, and she could pinpoint the location of every single doctor anywhere on the campus. From an organizational standpoint, it was unfathomably cool.

Barack Obama and the Democrats keep telling us how their trillion-dollar plan for the American health care system, the same plan which creates more than 110 new boards, committees, commissions, agencies and other bureaucracies, will make our system more effective. I don’t buy it, and neither should you. What other government agency or program is in the slightest bit effective? The post office? FEMA? Give me a break. If she so desired, the 22-year-old triage nurse could tell me the heart rate of a new mom on the seventh floor of the south building in the post-partum department, but the federal government cannot distribute $787 billion in taxpayer money for a high profile, so-called “stimulus” package without given millions to congressional districts that don’t even exist.

Third, after watching a pregnant woman on oxygen come in through an ambulance bay, I saw a technician move out of one room and into another with a portable, bed-side ultrasound machine. Gone are the days, my wife’s nurse said, that patients are being wheeled around this particular hospital to designated rooms for one test or another. His exact words were: “All these new machines enable us to do so many more things right here in the room. It makes things happen so much quicker, and allows for us to focus on you.”

I got a look at the portable ultrasound machine a few minutes ago, parked alongside a bunch of other normally bleeping and beeping contraptions waiting silently for the next patient who needs them. They were adorned with emblems and stickers touting manufacturers like GE Healthcare, Hewlett-Packard, Cardinal Health and more. The fact is, American ingenuity fostered by the American health care system as facilitated by the free market and, yes, profit has allowed this country to set the standard for patient care, and permitted other nations to piggyback upon the technological advancements of our own.

Finally, the steady stream of doctors and nurses themselves are impressive as usual. They care. They spend extra time when they can. My wife’s primary was actually in the hospital and stopped by–a visit no doubt made possible by the aforementioned organizational software–and sat with us for several minutes. As I mentioned, we’re not talking life-threatening problems here (thank God), but he was still able to take time to educate and reassure us.

We have the best doctors and nurses in the world. I know, not because of the time spent in places like this, but because I’m married to one of them. And sure, these men and women get into medicine to help people, but there needs to be a certain element of financial stability involved as well — otherwise, who in their right mind would incur additional years of schooling and upwards of $300,000 in debt if there wasn’t an eventual payoff?

It’s so easy to write about health care and health care reform in a disinterested fashion, the political equivalent of criticizing an NFL quarterback without feeling the hot breath of a blitzing linebacker on the back of your neck. But it’s something else to see it in action, even if that perspective is fairly limited due to a single emergency department and a pastel curtain. What I see now is an absolute travesty waiting to happen.

We’re about to willingly destroy our health care system–hardly perfect but still the greatest in the history of the world–in the name of political expediency and social justice. Real reform should involve distancing patients from government, not including government and its burdens in every procedure, test and decision.

We need to incentivize advancements, but instead we make profit taboo. We need to encourage the best and brightest to don scrubs and white coats, but instead we could be forcing them into specialties and taking decisions out of their hands. We need to increase access to great health care to everyone, but instead we stand to create lengthy lines for access to intentional mediocrity. And we need to instill confidence in patients, doctors and families alike, let them have faith in the knowledge that everything which can be done will, but instead we willingly march toward rationing of care, and turning patients like Joanna Schreiber into just another line item on a budget.

Joanna will be okay. Her condition might require that I cook Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow–thus putting the rest of our family at risk–but we know her long-term health prognosis is good.

Looking out at the emergency room beyond the curtain, and considering what our president and the Democrats would like to implement, I wish I could say the same thing for America.



  1. saintseester says:

    By odd coincidence, I also made repeat trips to the ER over the weekend and was pondering these very sorts of things. My husband is also stuck with Thanksgiving which means we are using the free market system to get some takeout turkey and dressing.

    It turns out, I have a condition that could greatly benefit from surgery. It is not life-threatening, only painful. As we pondered whether to put the surgery off for a while to see if the pain would abate, my husband made the point that I can't wait forever because the option may not be there later if Obamacare takes over.

    That hit me like a ton of bricks. I'm having the surgery while I still can, because if this condition continues to flare up, I cannot face a lifetime of painkillers and reduced work hours because of it.

  2. Boston Blackie says:

    Jeff, For the health and safety of your family, you may want to put a call in to your local supermarket ASAP and order one of those cooked complete meals for tomorrow LOL.
    As a daughter of a emergency room nurse for 30+ years, I know how valuable these people are to our well being. Just ask your wife, they are every day angels. Now throw a government that can not even distribute flu shots into the mix and we have us a major clusterf*#k. I remember when my daughter was 5, she suddenly had seizures and was in Boston's Childrens Hospital for a few days. The medical staff was fabulous but the social workers shocked me. Why we were even approached by social workers was beyond me but they just kept pushing the fact that we could now apply for SSI for my daughter. They also told me that I would probably be turned down initially but they could walk me through the appeal process. I'm thinking, my God, my kid is having seizures that nobody can tell me why and I have this grey haired dangly earring wearing liberal trying to get me to label my kid as disabled so I can get a monthly kiss in the mail from Uncle Sugar. I shudder to think what it is going to be like if this disaster actually goes through. May God help us all.
    On a lighter note,
    Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

  3. Randy Wills says:

    Sorry to hear that Joanna is having medical/health problems. We'll be praying for a quick and full recovery.

    And as for the technology available to her, at one time I was the FDA compliance officer for a medical division of one of the companies that you mentioned, and I can tell you that those equipment developers and manufacturers are not part of the problem. All of them simply do their very best to apply the highest level of technology to enhance the health care system.

    Sure, they do it to make a profit, but without that incentive, we would still live (medically speaking) in the dark ages. That's the beauty of the free-market capitalistic system. What a travesty it is that the forces in control of our present government would remove that incentive if they had their way. As you say, "we can't let it happen".


  4. Still a Patriot says:

    Hi Jeff -

    I hope & pray that somehow common sense will prevail & the Senate will slow down enough to wake up & stop this madness.

    Who would have thought a short time ago that one person with integrity could shine a light on the dark side to expose the "global warming" hoax? And just in the nick of time before Copenhagen?

    I will keep Joanna & you & your family in my prayers. Happy Thanksgiving to all at AR!


  5. Anonymous says:

    The best thing that could happen to us is for Obama, Reid, Pelosi and the rest of the marxist to come down with something seriously wrong with their health.
    And then, make them go to an emergency room in CANADA!
    This is surly a very scary time.
    the states

  6. Boston Blackie says:

    kentek – Wishful thinking but they have excluded themselves from this disaster. That is all anyone needs to know about government run anything.

    Jeff, Sorry that I did not wish Joanna a quick recovery earlier but I didn't want Obamama to come after me for violating HIPA laws.

  7. Dee says:

    Boston Blackie, please know that not all social workers are liberals. I worked as a medical social worker for 30+ years. I did not believe in free loaders and giving things away. I have seen families become angry because no one told them they could apply for SSI. I tried to see as many families as possible and at times, they felt like you and wondered why I was there. When it was time for discharge, the doctor would usually ask them if they had seen me. You may have been one of those people who knew what to expect and did not need assistance, but there are many more who are overwhelmed by the hospital experience and need help in learning what to expect and what their options are.
    Jeff, may you and your wife have a blessed Thanksgiving, and may she be home soon.

  8. goddessdivine says:

    Isn't it sad that these are the things we think about when visiting a hospital? Not too long ago I visited my father after his surgery and I had very similar sentiments. I couldn't help but think how our wonderful system will quickly deteriorate once the govt completely takes over. It scares the crap out of me.

    I hope everything with Joanna turns out well. I will keep you guys in my prayers.

    Happy Thanksgiving to everyone at AR.

  9. Claudia says:

    Jeff and Joanna,
    Hope all is better and the baby girl is quite happy with the turkey coming up. Joanna, take care of yourself and get better soon, no matter what it is that is causing you distress right now, know that you are young and have a very good chance of healing up like nothing ever was wrong.

    Jeff, I hope you keep on thinking about all the things you do while you are waiting in a hospital room for a consult, as well as everywhere else you go. You know that I started reading your column about a year and a half ago, and find that you constantly amaze me with your insight and dedication to all things American in this country and your dedication to your family and to US here on this site. It can't be easy on you having to take care of us while you are trying to take care of your wife and that darling little girl of yours. You are wonderful to to such a great job.

    I hope both of you have a great Thanksgiving weekend, and get plenty of rest so that you are not so strung out that you need hte time out that visiting a hospital affords you. (Just pushing a little button, sort of, lol…..) anyway, have a great Thanksgiving and we all wish for you the very best.

    To all the other readers here, you all have a great Thanksgiving day and weekend also, I hope that you have lots of friends and family around to keep the smile on your face and your hearts/spirits light.

  10. Amy says:

    I have thought about these same things recently as well.

    When I was 20 weeks pregnant with my first child, I had an attack of acute cholecystitis and had to have my gallbladder removed. Apparently, I had 20 marble sized stones that the baby managed to irritate.

    I wonder if I would have even been able to have that surgery when I needed it under Obamacare. I couldn't eat or drink. I was very dehydrated (needed 2 bags of ringers and more of saline) Without the surgery, my baby and I may well have died.

    We really do have the best health care in the world. Our technology is second to none. Our health care employees are usually top notch.

    Why can't they just focus on fixing the few problems we do have without flushing the whole system down the toilet?

    I hope your wife feels better soon.

  11. Anonymous says:

    A radio commercial comments that the wait in an ER can be up to 4 hours. Funny in Canada where it is "free" the wait is over 10 hours. it is all about control, not health care.

  12. Gail B says:

    Please let us know how Joanna progresses, would you?

    Jeff, everybody here at AR is fond of you, and you have allowed us glimpses into your personal life. We all know how you feel about your family, and we share the same concern for your wife and daughter as we do for you.

    We will pray for her recovery, but please let us know when her all-clear sign is seen, okay?

    verify – warri (worry)

  13. Celia in TX says:

    These are the remarks of a friend of mine about the E.R. (she is a P.A.). She is a liberal, but after working in trauma in NYC during 9/11 and these experiences here, she is no fan of Obama or these current policies:

    "On a daily basis, I see the government waste first hand. The Medicaid 'system' is the most appalling thing I have every seen. I work my ass off, no less than 50 hours a week, pay a RIDICULOUS amount of fed/state tax every year ( high income bracket, single, no kids), pay all my bills, pay student loans…and day after day, I get to treat the same losers whose only job is to find a way to stay out of a job. Our current system encourages people not to work..if you don't work, you can get better health coverage than if you work and earn minimum wage. The amount of able bodied people on disability sickens me, as do the "frequent fliers" we have in the ER. I, literally, have people who come to the ER every single day….and we, the taxpayers, pay for it. People, I kid you not, come every day with the same compliant. I have a 24 yo guy who comes to the ER at least 5 days a week, sometimes twice in the same day. We can't refuse care, so the nurses have to triage him and I have to see him. I have told him there is nothing wrong with him. I have referred him to psychiatry. I have called adult protective services. Bottom line…if we keep paying, he will keep coming. If I were to need to go to the ER, I would have a $100 copay. Medicaid has no copay. If there was, even a $5 copay, people may be more reasonable.

    Recently, I had a girl come in and demand an ultrasound- she stated that she needed to be pregnant so she could get more money from public assistance as her food stamps were running out…mind you she was still able to afford her pack a day smoking habit, despite the $8 per pack cost. Healthy, no medical problems, but we encourage her not to work by giving her free food, free healthcare, free cab rides. Now, she will try to have kids, so she can get more money."

  14. Megan says:

    Hope Joanna will be completely recovered quickly!

    I think the idea of at least a $5 co-pay is beyond reasonable, and it shocks me to no end that we don't have that in place.

    I lived in inner-city Washington, DC and I saw first-hand what government hand-outs do. I shopped at the Safeway and could barely afford groceries on our salary. I lost count of how many times I saw people standing in line paying for their junk food with EBT cards (electronic food-stamps), while they had on acrylic nails ($25), hair extensions ($50) and brand-new jeans, while mine had holes in them. I stood there and thought, "I just paid for her groceries." When it was the first of the month, I saw their boyfriends/husbands standing at the end of the check-out line, begging the women for money or cigarettes.

    Re: triage in the ER… my friend took her young son to the hospital with a twist in a very sensitive part of his anatomy (if you know what I mean). He was in excruciating pain and could lose one of his… well, anyway. She stood in line behind several folks who were probably frequent customers. The lady in front of her was holding a crying baby. When that lady's turn came, she loudly complained to the nurse, "My baby's got DIAPER RASH!" I bet a $5 co-pay would weed out a fair number of the people who are needlessly overcrowding our ERs with sore throats, head lice, and diaper rash.

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