Injustices in Health Care: Getting to Forgiveness after an Untimely Death

Posted by [email protected] on July 7, 2016 at 9:05 PM

                              Injustices in Health Care: Getting to Forgiveness after an Untimely Death

July 31, 2016 would have been a very important day, yes; it was supposed to be the 35th birthday of our son, brother, and friend Jeff, who unfortunately passed away on June 13, 2016. When July 31 arrives, it will be a very sad day, as we stop to offer a moment of silence in honor of a great man, whose life was cut short. Because of this and the continued problems in our health care system, this month’s blog will be dedicated to Jeff and the issue of injustice in the health care system. Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr., said these words, “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.” Alarmingly, Martin Luther King, Jr. words could be describing health care services in 2016, for any minority living in the USA. Despite having the first Black President, and Obama Care, equality has still to not come to health care in the United States. In fact, I will beg to suggest that this shocking and inhumane treatment afforded minorities in our health care system is another form of the “new Jim Crowe”, to stifle and annihilate Blacks.

In 2016, as I reread Martin Luke King , Jr, words, I cannot help but think of Jeff and the countless other African Americans and other minorities, who despite their insurance status, continues to receive less aggressive, and a different quality of care in our health care system. In a developed nation where health care costs, exceeds 18 % of our gross domestic product, Americans of a different hue, can still expect to receive poor quality, fragmented care, despite their insurance status, and this makes me mad as hell.

The 2003, Institute of Medicine Report, “Unequal Treatment” clearly articulated that there were inequalities in the American health care system. But almost 13 years later, why are we still discussing this issue. Most importantly, how do we, as a people, ensure that 13 years from now, we have not taken steps backwards, and are worst positioned than we previously were, to live long and productive lives in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”.

After all, Jeff was a true American born legally to upstanding Americans. Jeff was free to come and go as he pleased, and except for a speeding ticket, he never got involved in the New Jim Crowe (our justice system and its massive incarceration of Blacks). He was highly educated and earned his MBA about two years ago. He was going places. So, why will we stop to take a moment of silence in his honor instead of having the huge 35th birthday party that we were planning? Simply this, the American health care system, failed him as well as countless others that met an untimely death in the claws of our discriminatory health care system.

So, apart from being mad as hell, what else can we do? I suggest that we have several options which we should immediately employ. First, we must become advocates for those of a different “hue” who seek services in our health care system. Second, we must visit our doctors, armed with relevant information about our symptoms or conditions, and remind ourselves that we are paying the doctor for his/her services, and not the other way around. Therefore, we must ask questions, ask them in a variety of ways and demand the support of the health care team to ensure that as a patient, you are at the center of your care. No longer is medicine a paternalistic regime, we are evolving into value-based, patient-centered care. Yes, doc, it no longer about YOU, when you can meet, when you choose to do a test, it is about aggressively treating the patient, who must be at the center of his/her care.

This begs the question, are American paternalistic doctors, many of whom see the health system as their “cash cow, going to survive the move to value based care as well as the many lawsuits they might find themselves involved in, since people are no longer willing to take their foolishness lying down? Yes, we live in a litigious society and malpractice costs are high, but have we bought some of this on ourselves, by providing discriminatory health care services? Only you “Doc” can answer this question, but I would suggest we all will sleep easier and celebrate many more birthdays, if all of us as Americans followed the golden rule- do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This way, you ensure that the treatment you provide to the” Jeff’s” of this world would be the same services, you would offer to your own son, if he were lying in that hospital bed. If this is not the case then your oath to do good and to heal has already been violated, and this might be the best time to consider a career change.

For me and the many who hurt from the untimely death of this young man, our plan is to take our broken hearts daily to our Maker, so that he and only he can touch and heal us in those broken places of our hearts. Yes, we know we must forgive, but the sting is still raw and God’s grace and mercy are so badly needed, as we pray for total surrender, so that true peace and healing may come.

Jeff is gone but not forgotten, so, join me in this fight to ensure that a decade from now, Martin Luther King, Jr’s words will be a stark reminder of times past, and the worst days in the US health care system, and not our current reality. After all, Black lives matter, so this month, share your thoughts and comments about our imperfect health care system.


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