One of the most popular episodes of RN.FM Radio is the June, 2012 appearance of the well-known nurse author, Theresa Brown.
Theresa has given us her blessings to publish links to any of her excellent and thought-provoking previously published articles. This week we’re choosing to share a link with you to an article by Theresa that was published on June 23rd, 2012 in The New York Times.
In the article entitled “Money or Your Life“, Brown uses an interaction with a middle-aged, rural small business owner as the launching pad for a discussion of the relative affordability of healthcare, the misconceptions of many Americans regarding the Affordable Care Act, and how terminally ill and seriously ill patients may or may not be able to afford the care they need.
He was one of those salt-of-the-earth guys from the rural part of Pennsylvania. Middle-aged, married with adult kids, he’d worked his whole life running his own small business, a local restaurant that he jokingly called a bordello. His wife worked, too, and she had health insurance, but he wasn’t on her policy. Maybe he couldn’t afford it, or he was saving money by playing the odds. After all, he’d always been healthy. And then one day he had leukemia.
Brown uses this particular patient scenario to deftly illustrate the healthcare conundrum facing the country.
Hospitals are filled with people like him, patients who will need thousands of dollars of medical care just to have a chance at staying alive. At the top of the list are those with a fatal cancer. But there are many other less obvious ones: a patient who got kidney failure from strep throat, a healthy 22-year-old who needed a stay in the intensive-care unit to survive the H1N1 virus, a flight attendant far from home and desperately short of breath because of a blood clot in the lungs.
Since this is an election year and the economy and healthcare are hotly debated, Ms. Brown drives the point home that patients’ lives hang in the balance of this debate.
Much of the debate has focused on the role of government in everyday life. I don’t discount the value of that question, but my focus is on real needs. I treat patients with $20,000 chemotherapy injections or monthly doses of IV immunotherapy that cost $10,000 a bag. If they don’t receive these drugs my patients will die, so to me, the most pressing issue here is compassion. Without change, the patients will resemble the man with leukemia, human beings without insurance terrified that their lives aren’t worth what it will cost to save them, all because of a broken but fixable system.
Theresa Brown brings to light many salient issues in her op-ed pieces, articles and other writings on nursing and healthcare. We thank her for sharing with us, and for enlivening the conversation about healthcare in the United States.