Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Universal (good) Healthcare
We, like a lot of you, spend a great deal of time in doctor's offices and at several of our local hospitals.
I noticed something several years ago about all those visits and from it I developed a theory, a theory I put to the test again over our holiday break.
We had several visits to doctor's offices and those offices were connected to our local teaching hospital. That hospital is downtown, in a very urban setting, and it is frequented by many different types of people. There are busy professionals who schedule their doctor appointments for their lunch break. There are people with significant illnesses or injuries who go to the hospital for top-of-their-field specialists, and there are the urban poor - people with no health insurance but people for whom the hospital is obligated to provide service.
So what's my theory? I have found that better service seems to be provided to those people at the high end of society's ladder versus those at the bottom of the ladder.
I tested my theory by going to one appointment dressed very, very casually. I had on sweats - my hair was clean but not styled - I had no makeup on. Then I went to another appointment dressed professionally, styled hair, makeup and jewelry. Other than the physical appearance, I was the same person. I spoke well and considerately. I was polite and smiled both times. But I was treated very differently.
I hope that my theory is wrong. A hospital should be tasked with treating every patient well, not just those that appear to have more money. Working in a hospital setting seems to me to be a very difficult job. One would see patients in pain, patients who are scared, and often patients who are at their worst. But that comes with the job.
What shouldn't come with the job is discriminating based upon appearances or hypothesized differences.
ATM: Having lunch with my son, topped off with a strawberry milkshake!