Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Election 2008

Following the election? I find it almost as interesting as the Mariner's baseball games. Almost. 

This round of candidates are faced with promoting their opinions on multiple and complex issues, all of them vitally important. 

Since my experience with autoimmune disease began, my priorities in regards to election issues are increasingly focused on health care. 

I discovered a very interesting site which makes it easy to get summaries of the candidate's position on healthcare reform. The Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease site has a very easy to use tool. Simply click on the candidate you wish to know more about, and a condensed version of their stance on health care change is listed. 

When I was working as a nurse, I was completely embedded in the healthcare provider system, working in many different medical specialties. One of the positions that proved to be the most angst-provoking for me was that of a clinic nurse in an internal medicine department. 

I took the position thinking that it would be less stressful than my previous jobs in other critical care areas, and in certain ways it was. I did not have to worry about working anything other than daytime hours, didn't have to be on call, and the clients were much less ill when I saw them. However...

The issues which were most stressful to me in the clinic position related to healthcare in a much more general view. I remember a day in particular when I took a phone call from a frantic relative of a seriously ill person. The patient did not have health insurance, needed ongoing care, several diagnostic tests, and was booted out of the local emergency room without anything but a rudimentary exam. 

I lay awake that night wondering what more I could have done for this person besides referring them to patient services in the hopes that some type of assistance could be arranged. I felt that the quality of the care that I provided was seriously compromised for this person by the basic architecture of health care delivery. 

Now, I am viewing the delivery of health care from a consumer perspective. This is a much more vulnerable position. Although I have been fortunate to have been given very competent care, many of my friends and family have not had the same experience. 

I can't say how the enormous problems of uninsured families, astronomical health care costs, outrageous prices of medications, and shortage of healthcare providers should be addressed. Certainly this is a very complicated problem and the solution will not be simple. However, the complexity of the situation should not prevent us from giving it careful study and quick action. 

Our families' health deserves nothing less. 

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