It seems that many in Washington remain quite worried about America's long-term budget-deficit. From my front row seat on the ground floor of the hospital, though, I remain far more worried about America's long-term compassion-deficit.
Many many Americans have known and still do know people who have become fragile economically because they fell ill. People should not have to spend their last days worrying about health care costs. We are a civilized nation and now we are beginning to act like one.
Fred was in serious trouble. He had cancer and kidney disease, was taking 12 different medicines a day on various prescriptions, suffered near sleeplessness and acknowledged he was suicidal. He called us in crisis.
As we celebrate this year's Nurses Week, I am reminded of the Hippocrates saying that the goal of medicine is "to cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always." This, too, I learn through daily example from the amazing nurses I work with.
Communities need specially-designed psychiatric emergency departments. Private insurance companies should provide more and better community care for persons with psychiatric problems, and more community alternative programs for persons in emotional distress should be developed.
Community health centers fill a vital need in our health care system. Every day they work long hours to provide quality care at prices that people can afford, and in a way that takes into account the challenges that they face in their lives.
Over the course of my 20-year marriage, my husband Michael has developed an uncanny knack for having medical crises on national holidays -- crises that inevitably require a trip to the emergency room of whatever hospital is within striking distance.
Policymakers should be aware that even well-informed patients with good access to primary care need the ER. Legislation should aim to increase availability of primary care, but not penalize for use of emergency services.
Here's what you don't want when you visit the ER for a sports injury. You don't want the doctor to tell you nothing is wrong with you -- and then offer you a sling on the way out like a pediatrician giving out stickers.
If you don't have health insurance, will you still get the medical care you need? A silly question, you're probably thinking: The answer is obvious -- agonizingly so for the nearly 50 million Americans without coverage.
The second way to interpret Romney's remarks is not as a rejection of the question's premise, but a refusal to recognize consequences. If you're having a heart attack you can always go to the emergency room? He may have well as said, "Hey, no one is going to die if we don't do anything."
It's easy, when you have a degree of financial security, to have a real disconnect from the financial challenges that so many Americans face today. Yet our ER experience brought those challenges into sharp relief for me, and the impression wasn't pleasant.
The Waiting Room is a punch to the gut, an unblinking gaze at the real lives of people cast off and left out of the medical system in the U.S. Shot in cinema verité style, the film takes place entirely in the emergency room at Oakland's Highland Hospital.
Even if the roadblocks to greater funding were to disappear, Governor Romney's "let them eat emergency rooms" stance doesn't begin to get at a way to fix our broken health care system. Ask any emergency room doctor.
What does it say about us as a nation where patients waiting in an emergency room or lying in (or near) recovery rooms after surgery can be confronted by a special "relative" or friend at their bedside? It's your friendly medical debt collector, holding an invoice.
Faced with a shortage of resources, educators are increasingly calling 911 when children act out, resulting not only in costly emergency room visits, but a failure to treat the underlying behavioral disorder.