Don’t tell me there isn’t a problem with healthcare in the United States. (Now I know you’ve heard me rant about healthcare before, but I promise you this particular story comes from a new perspective and illustrates yet another aspect of our current crisis.)
Once I reached the point where I had done all I could to treat my sinus infection (first of my life, I might add,) I knew I needed help. With heat therapy and nasal irrigation I had cleared two of the four sinus cavities and could breathe through my nose for most of the day. The other two sinus cavities would not clear and although I doped up on the pain meds leftover from my last delivery, the pain was tremendous. I knew I had reached the point where I could do all I could, and I knew that if left untreated, sinus infections could cause serious problems.
Lucky for me it was Tuesday, because Tuesday night is the only time the local free clinic is open. In case you are one of those people who has always had insurance then you’re probably imagining some dingy drop-in full of people being tested for STDs, but this particular free community clinic doesn’t do STD, gynecological exams, mammograms, or obstetrics. This clinic is stricly for the uninsured and the working poor, who still need basic medical help.
The clinic’s posted hours on the website are Tuesdays only from 6-8pm. The sandwitch board at the door has expanded the end time to 8:30. I arrived early, and by the time I had found parking and found the correct entrance (the basement of the Methodist church) it was 5:54. I was the 59th person to check in. They reached capacity not long after me, and had to close their doors to new drop-ins. (Unpublished, they actually started working at 5 because the demand has been so high. In the fall they really did open at 6.)
Although it seemed the majority of them had been there before, there was still a large number of us who were first-timers. Demand for free healthcare is certainly on it’s way up, and all I could think of was how grateful I was that I had somewhere to go for antibiotics (a small thing by comparison,) and how grateful I was that the people sitting beside me had somewhere to go for their diabetic supplies.
Between the church volunteers, the students, the nurses, the doctors, and the pharmacists, it was an overwhelming operation of love, and each one treated each of us with graciousness, dignity, and respect. It was a beautiful thing. They were very busy, but they worked cheerfully.
I left at 9pm with what may be the second antibiotics I’ve ever had in my life, grateful, and tired, and so frustrated at the ignorance of those who have never gone without but insist that there is no problem with the healthcare in this country. There is no excuse for leaving millions of people high and dry because their employers do not offer health insurance, or because they are currently unemployed or underemployed. I’m going to stop now, because my blood is boiling. Just don’t ever, ever, ever tell me there is not a problem with healthcare in this country.