Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ceo compassion

the first two values outlined in the health service i work for, what they make us memorize at orientation, are as follows:
1. Service to the Poor: Generosity of spirit for persons most in need.
2. Reverence: Respect and compassion for the dignity and diversity of life.
just, beautiful christian images dancing on the walls of the hospitals, in newsletters, on letterhead, taken straight from the parables of jesus, signing company emails, recited at group meetings, reiterated as we challenge the value of our work, scribbled on id badges, on brochures on the cafeteria tables. everywhere. i work for a christian, non-profit organization. i knew jesus would be a partner in our business from the get go but HOLY smokes do we sometimes forget to cc him on the memos.

government subsidized health insurance for the lower-income folks of tennessee is not as great as your top of the line ppo. this is no surprise. it is not as great because the state of tennessee does not have the funds that bcbs has to pay the doctor. because of these factors, all but two physician in a group of 40, currently have their practice open to new government funded insurance. mind you, one of them is a specialist and the other is at our most inconvenient of satellite locations. this begs the question of, what if a beloved nashvillian, under this government insurance, resides in one of the numerous lower income neighborhoods within three miles of our building (edgehill, charlotte, heck, the public housing directly across the street...) selfishly decides to get sick this winter season? what if they get a uti, need a colonoscopy, have severe seasonal allergies, have a bacterial infection, need preventative medical care, suffer from migraines or back pain from a lifetime in a shit manual labor job. and WHAT if this person is without transportation and can only walk to the doctor or go somewhere on their bus route or rely on a lift from a neighbor or relative. this person is already in a position of the utmost vulnerability. dependency, dependency, dependency. they are however fortunate enough to have some form of insurance. that translates to something, to health, to control of your body, to independence, to access. right? but wait. when they call me, someone involved in the biggest medical practice in the city, someone who is supposedly going to help service the poor and grant integrity to the vulnerable, what are they going to hear. i have to tell them no. i have to apologize for their maladies and offer some comfort. i have to redirect their request to a facility more suited for dealing with the poor. i say no. wait. no. i offer them a physician on the other side of town, 25 miles away, then i hear no. it's rough. to say no through tears, through arguing phone lines, to a helpless lament, to a stripping of control, to a confused sense of pride. i say no. the physicians get their checks from private insurance, they mind their day, they service the rich, they are none the wiser. and i say no, no.

thank you for calling, this is not jesus and i might not be able to help you?

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