Last night I volunteered at the clinic I am a coordinator of in South Philadelphia, one that primarily serves Mexican immigrants. It was a good time. Besides getting to work side by side with bright and interesting students from all over Philly, I got to talk with patients and practice my Spanish.
What struck me most was how great of a relationship the doctors and nurses of this clinic have with the members of this community. The patients are treated for free, and many walk in without appointments and are unsure of how good they will be treated, weary of past experiences at other free clinics. But, they have no choice as they work in restaurants in Philly, without insurance, and barely make ends meet. Greeted with a warm smile, they are welcomed in for a thorough checkup, no strings attached. There is always detailed care given to every patient, with ample time taken and all concerns addressed.
In the regular health care world, doctors have to see patients every 7 minutes or less in order to make enough money to support their practices. Insurance companies pay only a portion of what the initial invoices list, though they make millions off of people to ensure that they are treated properly. Why is this a problem? Because doctors have to worry more about costs and time than they do about their patient's well being. They have to rush through appointments, missing important clues in patient cases, and above all, they have very little time for establishing great relationships. In my opinion, health care is a field where relationships are required for the comprehensive care of a sick person.
Why do I say all of this? Because our country is in need of change. Health insurance companies should not hold the power to the treatment of patients. Health care providers should. The doctors and nurses who I know didn't get into the field to keep insurance companies booming...they got into it to make a difference in peoples lives. Making an easy buck is the last thing the students eagerly learning in this clinic are thinking of.
Consider it: supporting health care reform
Unlearn it: that people only deserve the health care they can afford...what if you didn't have money or a job with insurance?