I believe that everyone in this country is entitled to first-rate health care delivered in a kind and respectful manner. I also believe that everyone, whether rich or poor, should be treated the same and in the same setting.
When I was a second year medical student, I spent the summer working in a clinic that cared mostly for poor rural families. The clinic was housed in a convent and staffed by nuns and young doctors. It was my job to bring patients back to the rooms, get vital signs and do a brief history. One of the patients came in for a colonoscopy because he was bleeding from his rectum. He wore old clothes and let his pants drop to the floor when getting ready for the procedure. He was obviously nervous. Before doing the procedure, the young doctor, picked up the man’s pants, carefully folded them and placed them on a chair. I thought, that’s the kind of doctor I want to be, but I knew that the doctor hoped to go into private practice someday and would most likely be taking care of a more affluent group. It made me sad that this fine young doctor would be moving on. I imagined that the man getting the colonoscopy might not be treated as kindly in the future.
I have been a pediatrician for over twenty years. I no longer think that the best doctors out there are in the twenties, but rather in their 50’s like me. I have been in practice that cares for all comers, rich, or poor, or in between. I have seen advances in medicine that have eliminated diseases. I have also seen disparities in care that lead to a poor baby growing up in the inner city have twice the chance of dying young as a more affluent baby.
I believe that there should be no disparities and all children should be given the same chance. I also believe the act of picking up a pair of old pants can be very important.
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