September 16, 2013
It was a typical day for me on Tuesday. There were classes to teach, rough drafts to evaluate, emails to juggle, and committee work to do. Then it was off to Chick-Fil-A for a fundraiser for our college’s Nursing Department where I had dinner with the family. An hour later, I was on my son’s soccer field as he and his teammates had their first scrimmage. Then it was back to the college as students watched the President’s address on Syria.
Several stayed afterwards to argue about what should be done. Then there was a column to write about the subject just before midnight so I could be rested before …..
…. And then I became Linda Blair’s character from “The Exorcist.” I’m not sure I ever had a nastier illness hit me so fast and so hard. It seemed evil.
Anyone who knows me can probably guess how I responded. Instead of taking a day off of work, I foolishly tried to gut it out at the college. For those who have seen Monty Python’s “In Search of the Holy Grail,” I closely resemble “The Black Knight,” unwilling to accept defeat even with the loss of all four limbs.
Our department secretary and colleagues insisted I see a doctor. I finally forced myself to rest, change my diet, etc. Eventually I recovered. But that’s not really what this column is all about.
When we describe health care in America, we talk about it as a system, certainly borrowed from those folks in the biology department. Yet we think about it as a dichotomy between government and private care providers. That’s not really the whole system that we have.
Folks speak of Obamacare as total government control of health care. Do we have something like Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) where hospitals are government run and employees get their checks from the government? Of course not, unless you are in the VA. Do we have total free market domination where a dozen Mitt Romney-types as CEOs run the show? No.
Our system isn’t just about business and government bureaucrats. It’s about people as well. It’s our college having a “We Care Clinic” to cover a number of cases, and refer the serious ones to our hospital. It’s about our Nursing Department looking for community needs to serve.
It’s about my neighbor as well. Even though she had a sick daughter and a son with plenty of needs, she loaned me her van so I could drive my samples to the lab late on Friday night when my car wouldn’t start.
It’s about my in-laws in Columbus who were willing to open their house to my wife and kids, who spent the weekend there, in case I had something that was contagious. That’s despite having busy schedules of their own with soccer and scouts (Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts). It’s about my family, checking in and providing sound advice about what I should do, as well as moral support. It’s about my secretary and colleagues checking in on me to make sure I was okay while home alone, and people from church putting me on the prayer list. It makes you feel less alone when fighting a bad bug.
A health care system isn’t just government or just the private sector. It’s also a community looking out for the individual in a way the other two actors, despite their resources, just can’t provide. And that’s what makes the system work.