Unmet Healthcare Needs-How Our Ignorance is Hurting Us
I’ve spent my life working in the health and wellness industry and a recent trip to an urgent care facility shocked me. We recently moved to a new area and I needed to take my son to get a basic school sports physical. I asked around and was given the names of some clinics.
The first place I called did not answer the phone. I thought it was odd and decided to stop there after running errands. This is a much smaller town than where we previously lived and I am still adjusting to the change. The clinic was inside a grocery store and it was closed. I asked the pharmacy tech and he told me that the clinic was closed because they could not find a provider to work there. I was alarmed and immediately thought of the large number of aging people living in this area. I went online to search for another place only to find two more urgent care businesses that had extremely long wait times listed on their websites.
I’ve used these quick clinics many times throughout my children’s lives and found them very helpful and convenient on many occasions. I expressed my frustration to my neighbor and she brushed me off saying that this has been an issue for years. She told me there have been plans to build a new hospital but the issue is retaining healthcare workers. I immediately pointed out the fact that it is very easy to find and hire healthcare workers from anywhere in the country if necessary. She disagreed and told me that these nuisances are just part of the charm of living in a smaller area. I do not find the lack of basic healthcare charming.
I ended up driving 45 minutes away to urgent care facility that could get us in….urgently, as an urgent care facility is designed to do. The wait time ended up being three hours. In those three hours, I saw a very, very disturbing scene. There were large signs posted warning people that violent and aggressive behavior will not be tolerated. This was a huge red flag. Aggressive behavior at a place that is supposed to provide health care….urgently?
After the customary and ridiculous amount of paperwork and signatures, my son’s name was called. We were taken to a room where a provider took his vitals. In plain view, there was a whiteboard listing the clinic’s goals:
- Clinic Growth
- Customer Satisfaction
I snapped a photo and went back to the waiting room. I am aware of how businesses work, but I honestly was shocked to see this in a room that is used for patients. As we waited to be seen, a family with a sick baby was struggling to keep him calm. The tension in the room was too much for me and I stepped outside. A woman was in distress on the phone outside because the person she brought in for care attacked her in the car on the way to the clinic. I went up to her and let her know that the wait time was hours. They left in search of another option. The couple with the baby also left.
We were called for our appointment and I started asking our provider about the situation. He reiterated the fact that this has been an issue for several years. The issue got worse when the healthcare workers that refused the jab were fired. Many of them left the healthcare field. He mentioned that it was his day off and he was contractually obligated to fill in. Healthcare workers are now forced into mandatory overtime through contracts to attempt to meet the rising demands. Alarm bells went off inside me. We all know what happens to anyone who is overworked…..mistakes. I felt that the provider did a very good job with my son and immediately felt empathy for this man and the other polite employees of this clinic. I left my healthcare job due to caregiver burnout and I have seen many other colleagues have physical and mental breakdowns due to unrealistic corporate demands.
This trip to an “urgent care” office took so long that I missed another appointment I had with a business back in our town. I was stressed as my mind was trying to see the bigger picture.
Why? Why is nobody in this area able to do anything about this issue? How much money do people pay monthly for health insurance? Who owns the clinic? Why are so many insured people not able to get an appointment?
This situation is in the hands of those who profit from it.
The bigger picture I saw in my mind is one of everyone struggling and few looking for an out-of-the-box solution. I immediately thought of several.
- A co-op/community health facility run by counties or cities. I see many, many vacant buildings with office space that could be used temporarily for basic care
- A separate alternative healthcare facility to encourage the use of natural and holistic products and services with space for non-medical healers
- A third facility for mental health professionals is another health care segment that many people need and want and cannot get adequate and timely appointments.
- Find a way to offer in-home care to fragile and immune compromised individuals
It is time to start following the money trail. It’s time to ask the big questions. Why can we afford health insurance but not health care providers? What are our real priorities? Why are health and basic medical care NOT at the top of our community needs? How can we afford facilities but not providers? How much longer are we going to let for-profit companies who make billions of dollars each year leave us stranded in a time of great need?
I’m tired of hearing “we can’t afford it”. Where is the gas, alcohol, marijuana, cigarette, and lottery tax money? Who controls that money?
Have you looked around at the amount of money that is spent on marketing businesses? Here is a viable market that needs no advertisements. There are people waiting hours for this service, people that have health insurance and or cash to pay. If the county or city ran the health care clinic it could use its website and email systems to market the community clinic services.
This area is full of older people who are retired. Many of them volunteer. Surely some people have retired from healthcare and business careers and would enjoy being involved in creating and organizing something that works better than the one they retired from. Many have wisdom far beyond that of the younger healthcare workers and know the inner workings of the industry.
Why are we allowing this in our lives? How can this “be an issue for years” and gets worse each year without improvement?
The Angel Wears Prana