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What I love about socialized medicine: Common decency

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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 08:17 AM
Original message
What I love about socialized medicine: Common decency
Edited on Sun Aug-23-09 08:24 AM by babylonsister /

Why I love Britain's socialized healthcare system

As I learned when my newborn daughter was very sick, in U.K. hospitals, people take care of each other

By Stephen Amidon

Aug. 22, 2009 | My eldest daughter had a rough first week. Born after 22 hours of hard labor, her pink skin proceeded to turn an alarming shade of yellow on the second day of her life. It was a bad case of jaundice. She would need to be placed in an incubator, whose ultraviolet light would hopefully clear up the condition. If not, a transfusion would be required. My exhausted wife and I watched in numb horror as our child was encased in the clear plastic box that was to become her crib for the next seven days. What we had hoped would be a straightforward delivery had turned into a nightmare.

Because I am American, and those endless days and nights were spent in a maternity hospital in London, the week that followed has been very much on my mind as I listen to the recent attacks on the British National Health Service. It is a system that I found to be very different from the one currently being described as "evil" and "Orwellian" by politicians and commentators eager to use it as an example of the dark side of public medicine.


Directly following the birth, we were taken to a large ward whose 20-odd beds were separated by curtains and changing tables. It was visiting hour; the place was alive with excited relatives, shellshocked fathers and the constant susurrus of hungry new life. That first night, however, the atmosphere grew peaceful. Crying babies were attended immediately by sensibly-shod nurses so that others could sleep. But it was after my daughter began to turn the color of saffron rice that I really began to appreciate the NHS. The moment she showed distress, we were whisked off to a private room, where we were looked after by a no-nonsense pediatrician and the imposing Irish ward sister, or chief nurse, who quickly made it clear to me that my sole useful contribution to the whole process had come nine months earlier. Blood was drawn regularly from our daughters tiny heel; test results came back promptly. The meals were surprisingly edible. I even developed a taste for the milky tea brought to me by kind nurses. My only complaints over the following week were that the free cookies in the fathers lounge were always running out. And for some reason the ward sister kept giving me withering looks, no matter how dutifully I attended to my familys needs.

As my blindfolded daughter slept in the incubators eerie violet glow, I would take occasional strolls through the ward. It was the most egalitarian place I had ever seen. The yuppie woman honking into her newfangled cell phone, the young Pakistani mother who always seemed to be surrounded by a half-dozen gift-bearing relations, the self-sufficient older woman desperate to get home to look after her other children -- all of them were cared for in exactly the same manner. Whoever needed help got it. When a terrified Afghani girl arrived, rumored to be only 14 and apparently abandoned by her family, several nurses dropped what they were doing to teach her the rudiments of child care. The rest of the mothers waited patiently until they were finished. Other wards were the same. There was no private wing with champagne service. Everybody was in this together. If you were a woman and you were in labor and you were in our part of London, this is where you came. If things went wrong, skilled doctors appeared with the latest technology. Nobody asked about insurance or co-pays.

This, I learned, is what the NHS is about -- common decency. It is about the shared belief that all the people who live in the United Kingdom constitute a society, and a decent society provides certain necessities for its members. Freedom from hunger is one. Police protection is another. Free healthcare from the cradle to the grave is simply one more item on this list.

I saw this decency at work countless times over the following decade, until my return to the United States. I saw it with the twice-daily home visits by community midwives for the fortnight after each of our newborn childrens release from hospital, and in the vouchers for free milk we were given for those babies. I saw it when our GP paid us a house call early one Sunday morning to treat our sons spiking fever.


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Doctor_J Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 08:21 AM
Response to Original message
1. THat's what the problem boils down to
the US right have no decency. They are filthy scum with almost no redeemable qualities at all. They are pro-terrorist, pro-fascist and hate democracy and hate Americans.
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opihimoimoi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 08:23 AM
Response to Reply #1
2. You talking bout them Repunlicans? LOL
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patrice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. They are "Us against Them" folk who absolutely do not care about Facts.
I was across the street from a bunch of teapartiers yesterday. The facts only serve to contribute to their "Us against them" world-view.
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geckosfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
3. Thanks for the post.
This is a reminder that NHS works. It is stories like these, the ones that relate real experiences of real people that need to be given much more air time.

Opponents of a public plan have limitless demonizing rhetoric. It's free and the detours from reality that bountiful rhetoric takes are constrained only by imagination.

Success stories, while fewer in numbers since they actually take substantial thought and effort to relate, digest and consider, are ultimately more powerful and useful in determining the kind of policy that should be enacted.
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:26 AM
Response to Original message
5. knr - the Dems have blocked discussion of any system that would
see health care as a right.


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babylonsister Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:43 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Have they blocked it? I think they should be yelling that from the rooftops. nt
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slipslidingaway Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Yes they have blocked discussion of a system that would cover
all Americans, single-payer advocates were not originally invited to the WH summit.

One person was invited at the last minute after the doctors planned a protest outside the White House.


Was he called upon to speak - No.

But President Obama did call on Karen Ignagni of AHIP to speak.

AHIP.... the association that tried to discredit Michael Moore and SICKO...they get seats at the table.

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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 09:47 AM
Response to Original message
7. Health care delivery in this country is compassionate
even with staffing stripped down to the bone. That isn't the problem, although there are terrible consequences of not having enough housekeeping staff to keep things as clean as they should be and a thin nursing staff being able to pick up complications quickly. Once the profit pressure is gone, those two things will likely be rectified.

The problem is at the insurance level, that pressure to produce profit leading to denial of coverage, denial of care, denial of payment, and recission of even long standing policies when the subscriber gets sick because someone found a technicality.

The profit motive removes compassion from any system and degrades the service in that system. While it's annoying not to be able to find a knowledgeable person on the sales floor of a big box store, that degraded service can be fatal in health care.

In addition, the insurance companies play hardball with hospitals once they reach near monopoly status in any market, something that has been accomplished here. Staffing goes down and the hospital can't afford repairs to the facility, which starts to look pretty shabby.

Every level of our system is being squeezed to death by insurance giants and any reform that doesn't give us a public option to ensure they have real competition for the first time in decades is no reform at all.
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Wednesdays Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-23-09 07:29 PM
Response to Original message
9. K&R
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