Yesterday, I spoke at the “Values, Vision and the via media—a path to action national conference 2005” in Washington, DC. Sponsored by the Episcopal Church in America and organized by people who really care about communities and quality of life issues in the nation, the 4-day conference convened on the grounds of the National Cathedral. The setting was amazing.
The conversation was even better.
I flew up early and back late on the same day, but the time was rich and my trip worth the effort.
One conversation that ensued as a result of a question from the crowd stuck with me.
A woman from Houston, Texas described the public health situation in her city.
“When I go into the Third Ward in Houston,” she said, “I see faith-based organizations providing high-quality, high-touch health care services for the poor. The other alternative is an 11-hour wait in our public hospital where they don’t receive the same dignified treatment.”
Her point was founded in some personal confusion.
She wanted to support the public health institution, but she saw the smaller, community-based organizations “doing a better job.”
“Maybe if all the church people contributed more of their wealth we wouldn’t need the government,” she concluded.
Here at CDM we operate a first-class, high-touch, user-friendly health center. We will provide care during 20,000 patient visits this year. I shared this with the group.
Parkland Health and Hospital System, our public health facility, will care for hundreds of thousands of patients. They will do so on a strained budget. Their facility will be overwhelmed by the numbers. The care will be some of the best in Dallas and the cost per unit of service will be the most efficient anywhere.
If there is a problem with our public health system, it is with the support it receives to do its work. I have a hunch it is the same in Houston.
While the woman’s intent was pure and her idea noble, the facts are clear.
The church will not give significantly more of its treasure next year to care for the poor than it did this year. And, even if it did, the church could not possibly manage to give enough to cover the needs of the nation just in the public health arena alone.
My audience seemed to understand.
People of faith need to support sound, moral, comprehensive, equitable public policy that will lead us to a health care system that meets the needs of all of our citizens, while improving return on the incredible national investment in health care we are already making.
I sense a growing movement among people of faith who are longing for a new day in this country. It gives me hope.
Announcement from Duke Memorial UMC
1 week ago