FREE HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

I just wrote the following article for a paper called the People's Tribune. I decided to cover the issue of Obama possibly being a Socialist in the next post, not this one as previously stated. (See previous post.) I hope you find it to be insightful.....


The nation is up in arms about the healthcare issue. Obama is being depicted as a Socialist, the Joker and Charlie Chaplin. He is bearing the brunt of frustration with the healthcare system that people have felt since before the Clintons. As a matter of fact, Rush Limbaugh had a heyday mocking Bill Clinton's administration for having written a 100,000-page healthcare plan that never got implemented and went so far as to sell a Bill Clinton backwards-running watch.

The fact of the matter is that, in spite of what manner of man Barack Obama is, he was elected as the head of a failed system which the best of us can never hope to heal. Nonetheless, the healthcare issue may very well become the impetus for systemic change. It has blossomed into concerns about the degree to which government controls people's lives and the new form that our government is metamorphosing (morphing) into. Regardless of anyone's specific views, even a blind man can see that the healthcare issue is raising the consciousness level of the nation. Concern over this issue is contagious and spreading like cancer.

Speaking of being contagious, I had a recent bout with conjunctivitis (pink eye) and went to the free clinic in the shelter basement. During my visit, the doctor informed me that he was completely out of the usual eyedrops for pink eye and asked me if I could afford to pay $18 to fill my prescription at a drug store. I told him that I don't make much money on my part-time job, but could afford it if necessary. he doubled back to the supply room and came back with a tube of ointment. He explained that it was not as good as the eyedrops and would make the vision in my left eye blurry. (My right eye has poor sight due to my biological parents fracturing my skull when I was 8 months old, thus the Polish last name.) I said,"You must be getting a lot of patients down here who have pink eye." He told me that he has not been getting many cases of pink eye and that his last case had been about a week earlier, but that the economy has resulted in his budget being tightened and his supplies being reduced.

Though the economy has put the squeeze on this doctor's medical supplies, it has yet to reduce the number of sick people. As I recently wrote in a Facebook comment, this sets the stage for the wide spreading of some of the most easily cured ailments: reducing medical access and/or supplies so that something as simple as pink eye runs rampant throughout a homeless shelter that houses 1,500 people and then spreads to the wider community. Failing to effectively and quickly cure the first few cases of a certain contagion can aid its spread (and create more business for the hospitals and doctors). It pays to give free, single-payer healthcare to all so that people can get all of the healthcare that they need without fail and doctors don't run out of needed supplies. (Of course, that's only true if your interest is healing people and saving lives, rather than making a buck.) We could nip it in the bud when any contagion -- be it pink eye or swine flu -- begins to plague the community.

My situation was actually complicated by the fact that I needed to go to the free clinic rather than the hospital, being a non-paying customer as I am. With me not being a frequent user of medical services, I was unaware of the fact that the clinic was open for a half-day on Saturday. I was having complications with the ointment that the doctor had given me on Tuesday and had been too busy to revisit him during the work-week. When someone told me at around 11 AM that the clinic was open, I went there immediately, only to find out that I was too late to sign-up, due to them closing at noon and only tending to those who'd already signed-up. It would've been nice if I could've gone to a hospital and received immediate attention.

I restarted my use of the ointment for about a day and a half and then got this really bright idea. I figured out that I was re-catching pink eye every night by lying in the same place. I stopped using the ointment and bought some 91%-isophoryl rubbing alcohol and put it on my face, sheet, mattress and pillow. The pink eye is in remission and almost completely gone as I type this article.

The healthcare issue is important to me for at least a couple more reasons, not the least of which is that I used to work at Shands Hospital in Gainesville, FL at the University of Florida. I therefore know that Shands used to share its beds and other medical equipment with Alachua General and other local hospitals (even before buying AGH). They didn't compete for people's business, but rather worked together to heal people. I should probably put in a plug here and say that Florida is a retirement state where the biggest business is funeral homes and that tourism is actually second biggest (and tourism might've actually been replaced by the prison-industrial complex as the second biggest business in Florida at this point). The large number of elderly people creates such a large market for healthcare that the hospitals have more work than they can bear. This eliminates the need for competition. And healthcare shouldn't be a competitive business. It should be about saving lives with little or no cost to the patient. That's it. That's all.

Just this morning, a homeless man asked me how swine flu vaccinations would be administered to the homeless and where they would fall in terms of priority. He asked more as a matter of critiquing the government than as a matter of fear. Nonetheless, his question is an important one. Let's bear in mind that epidemics spread indiscriminately -- regardless of race, religion, creed or financial status. The homeless can infect the well-to-do just as easily as they infect each other. Healthcare should therefore be administered in an egalitarian manner. Hopefully, this problem with my left eye will help others to see the light.

As far as my other reasons for being interested in the healthcare issue are concrned, my foster mother and adoptive mother were both nurses and at least 8 other family members including my now-deceased father and his widow worked at Shands Hospital. Maybe when I need to see the doctor again (with me averaging 2 years between visits) I'll be able to waltz into his office and get what I need free of charge, knowing that I'm getting the best service possible, in spite of my economic status. Let's hope that the fight over healthcare leads to complete systemic change. One can only hope. Obama ran on a campaign of hope and change; so, let's hold his feet to the fire.

CORRECTION:

Below is a message from JOSH FAULKNER, a Facebook friend. I mentioned him in my previous post. He is volunteering to help the homeless, due to advice that I gave.....

Josh Faulkner August 25 at 12:29am
Hi Eric,

That was very kind for the donor to donate so many pairs of socks! That is quite alot!!!

I appreciate being mentioned in your blog. However, the project to replace the obsolete computers is still in progress. I have an equipment list that shows the cost and currently working on an online donation site that will allow donors to make donations and go directly to the homeless nonprofit. I'll keep you posted.

Your blog and works have really opened up the eyes of many to the reality of homelessness and have empowered many to take action and do something about it.

God Bless,
Josh Faulkner

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