Early last Thursday morning, I picked up my parents from their home and took them to the new Baylor Regional Hospital in Plano.
My dad was scheduled for an angiogram to determine exactly where blockage was located in the artery supplying blood and life to his left leg. Going into the procedure, the doctor hoped to be able to open the artery by means of angioplasty and/or a permanent stint.
My mom, who suffers from a non-cancerous blood disorder, needed a blood transfusion.
As it turned out, the hospital staff--an incredibly warm, accomplished and helpful team--arranged for the two of them to be in treatment rooms right across the hall from one another. That made my job much easier!
Both procedures went like clockwork.
My mother was all done by about 1:00 p.m. and feeling better. My father, complete with new stainless steel stint implanted successfully with blood flowing freely into his previously troubled leg, got into a room for an overnight stay around mid-afternoon.
All of this had been easily arranged in the week to ten days prior to their coming to the hospital. No long waiting period. Very little time for anxiety or worry or feeling poorly unnecessarily.
My dad had seen his heart surgeon who referred him over to the doctor who performed the flawless procedure. My mom had made her plans two days before following a routine visit to her blood specialist, a smart young doctor who is becoming her friend.
There had been no delays, no roadblocks, no question whatsoever about scheduling, cost, or whether or not their needs would be met in a most timely manner.
Both of my parents, now in their mid-80s, carry Medicare health insurance cards. Medicare is the national health plan provided by our government to persons past the age of retirement. An extremely efficient operation, Medicare works flawlessly for my folks. [Blogger's confession: Every time I hear someone bashing President Lyndon Johnson and his "War on Poverty," I can't help but think of Medicare--a program he delivered to America.]
As I waited for them in the really inviting environment of the new hospital, I couldn't help but think of my friends who don't enjoy such health benefits.
I thought of the long delays in arranging specialty treatment for the poor right here in Dallas. I thought of our overcrowded public hospital, a hospital doing amazing work, but stretched well beyond its limits.
I thought of the ease with which my parents have been able to find just the physicians they need when they need them, while my friends at the bottom of the economic pyramid struggle to find doctors because so many don't work with Medicaid patients.
I also thought of the recent cutbacks in funding for the Medicaid insurance program designed for low-income persons.
Just thoughts while waiting for my parents.
Thoughts set alongside thoughts and memories of my friends in the city.
Should health care continue to be treated as a commodity to be consumed? Or, should a higher, nobler view of life inform our perspectives on what we provide and demand. . .for everyone?