Friday, July 14, 2006

A patient struck by a hit-and-run driver. Severe head injury. Being young and otherwise healthy the patient did not carry any health insurance. The patient has been ready for discharge to rehab now for over two weeks, but funding is an issue. The patient was active in the local music "scene" and their friends have put on several fundraisers to assist in costs. This prompted the following letter to the editor of the local paper:
I read with interest about the generous outpouring of support for Xxxx Yyyy, seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver. The Yyyy family has had much to deal with, and planning for Xxxx's rehabilitation is certainly helped by the fund-raising efforts of friends. But what about the group that struggled against tremendous odds to bring them back from the brink of death?

I am the neurosurgeon who treated Xxxx as they arrived at the Big Hospital's Emergency-Trauma Center. Had it not been for the rapid response of the trauma team, the doctors, nurses and staff of the Emergency Trauma Center, the surgical ICU and Neuro Nursing Unit, the story would have had another ending.

It was not luck that those resources are available. It is a program that has been supported and developed over many years of commitment by Big Hospital, a cadre of local private physicians and a dedicated team of professionals that assures every person in our area will be given a fighting chance should they be traumatically injured.

It seems just a bit ironic that the focus of the community is now is on raising money for a hospitalization at a financially well-endowed facility that will not admit Xxxx until all the cost of their treatment is paid, up front, while the many physician specialists, nurses and clinical professionals who actually saved their life are likely not to be paid at all.

The people and the organization that saved the Yyyy family from planning a funeral have not been fully recognized. There is a discussion begging to be had concerning the large number of uninsured people in our country, and the dangerous erosion of the safety net that trauma centers and community hospitals provide. Perhaps Xxxx's story will stimulate your paper to lead that discussion.

Given the quality of the local paper, probably not. But it is a worthy point to make just the same.
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