Presidential hopeful and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist just sent a triple-drop-dead top-secret memo to his fellow Republicans on the Senate Health, Education and Labor Committee. It concerns Charles Cullen the male nurse who was sentenced to eleven consecutive life terms last week for ending the lives of 40 mostly aged patients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania hospitals. Somehow Tony Hendra got his hands on a copy.
What is the single biggest drain on Medicare? What is dragging down the HMOs' bottom lines? We all know the answer but we don't want to face it: old folks who refuse to head for the exit once the show's over.
Consider Charles Cullen. Here's a clearly motivated man, willing to take low wages to dedicate his life to nursing. He's asked to care for patients costing thousands of dollars an hour, 24-7, to keep alive. Deaf, blind, overweight, unhinged, incontinent, non-ambulatory, insufferably boring and cranky patients, with zero chance of ever seeing their own feet again let alone their double-wide. And just to keep one of them breathing for a week costs many times what Charlie makes in a year!
And Charlie says to himself: Gee isn't this a lot like paying some deadbeat to stay at a five-star hotel when they should have checked out long ago?
Charles Cullen was a hero of public spiritedness - and judging from his bottom-line approach to health-care - a born conservative. Charles Cullen pointed the way to the future of healthcare. Charles Cullen was willing to think outside the box to get terminal seniors INSIDE the box.
And what did we do? We allowed myopic bleeding-hearts and malpractice buzzards to brand this hero a killer and put him away for eleven consecutive life terms! My God, the depths this country has sunk to!
Was what Charlie did vicious? Was it sadistic? Was it even a crime? No. Did he use the old SLN protocol I was taught as a young medical man? Absolutely not! Creeping up behind chronically sick seniors and making a Sudden Loud Noise IS cruel - even if it's not unusual. Or illegal.
But Charlie did it the compassionate way, the conservative way. Slip them a massive overdose of digoxin with their mashed veggies, they have a nice painless little cardiac event and they're off to a Better Place. Freeing up those mobile defibrillators, renal discharge monitors, pulse oximeters, onsite syringe pumps and a host of other million-dollar gadgets the old codgers have been hogging for months, so that they can be hooked up to a patient with his whole life and years of earning power ahead of him.
To nurse Medicare back to fiscal health we need more nurses like Charles Cullen. We need to start caring for health-care itself! I believe this is more than a fiscal duty. It's a religious one. We all have our appointed time; it's immoral to artificially extend it. Just as euthanasia is immoral because it terminates patients BEFORE their appointed time, it's meddling in God's Will to keep people alive AFTER He's blown that Final Whistle. We Christian conservatives believe birth control is immoral don't we? Well, so is death control.
We're out of peaceful solutions gentlemen. 21st century health care is war-zone and its commanders need commandos who can move with maximum stealth to attack the problem at its source: negative assets who are sucking the system dry. It may be too late to save Charles Cullen from the bleeding-hearts and tort-mongers, but let us quietly honor him by creating a special force of super-nurses - The Charles Cullen Night-Riders say or Cullen's Angels of Mercy - to build on this visionary's innovations. It's time to force healthcare costs down and healthcare stock prices up.
Of course I don't have healthcare stocks anymore. But I do remain faithful to that Hippocritic Oath I took as a young medical man years ago:
First do no harm - to the bottom line.