June 20, 2010
Happy Father's Day! (For now): A Cautionary TaleBy Larrey Anderson
Just before noon, a week ago Friday, my father had a heart attack. My mom tried to call the local Veteran's Administration clinic to get him treated. My dad is a vet who proudly served in the Marine Corps. As luck (and the federal bureaucracy) would have it, the local VA clinic is closed on Fridays.
Unable to get my father treated by the VA, Mom called their family physician and described the symptoms. Her doctor told her, "Get him to the emergency room ... now!" She did.
The local hospital (Saint Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center -- they deserve a plug) bypassed all the paper work, admitted my dad, and had him on a gurney surrounded by two or three nurses and a couple of doctors in what seemed like seconds.
We live in a small town. My parents happen to go to church with the cardiologist who was on call that Friday. When one of the nurses asked my mom if she wanted to hug my father before he went into surgery, the doctor bluntly stated, "We don't have time for hugs." (That's my kind of doctor.) My dad went from "door to balloon" in 30 minutes. The national standard is 90 minutes.
The radiologist, who was also on call at the time of my dad's surgery, stopped by my house the next day. (As I said, this is a small town.) He told me, had another 20 minutes elapsed, my father would have suffered a major heart attack -- and might have died. My father, thanks to the rapid response of the emergency room staff, dodged another bullet.
Most people with a decent father tend to think that he or she has the greatest father. This emotional favoritism can even happen to a cynical philosopher: I have long been convinced that I have the best dad in the world -- and I really believe it.
My mind is full of memories of my dad struggling to support and provide for our family. When I was five years old, we moved to California. A year later, after my dad learned how to start and run his own janitorial service, we moved back to Idaho.
I remember taking care of my sisters, once in a while, when my mom and dad were out servicing their janitorial accounts, moping floors, and cleaning toilets. I started helping my dad with his ever-growing janitorial service when I was in the eighth grade. I learned an awful lot about hard work, commitment, and life's real struggles from my father.
After establishing several small businesses -- through a lifetime of labor -- my mom and dad have met their goal of a comfortable retirement. They were amazingly successful in fulfilling their shared American Dream. They did it with diligence, patience, and love. Their story of slowly accumulating wealth could not have happened in any other country on this planet -- and they know it. My parents are both proud and patriotic Americans.
I called up the doctor who was in charge of my father's treatment to thank him and to tell him I was writing this article for American Thinker. "I've got one question for you," I said. "Do you think my father would have received the same treatment he got this time around in five years under ObamaCare?"
The doctor was taken back by my inquiry. "Wow. That is a great question. I am not sure how to answer it. I have my doubts."
After a little prodding, the doctor continued, "There are two things that don't look promising. First, will people, who are paid a salary or fee fixed by the government, have the same incentive that we had when we worked on your father? I don't know the answer. I would hope that people in the medical professions would care that much about their patients. However, human nature is human nature. If there is no incentive to do a good job...." His voice trailed off.
"Yes. I can see your concern," I reassured him.
"Second," he got back on topic, "we do know, for a fact, that the government controlled systems in other countries in the West cannot touch the American standards for care and treatment of heart attacks. Great Britain, for example, doesn't even track the door to balloon time for most heart attacks. In fact, standard procedure in Britain is to give the patient a drug - rather than proceed straight to the balloon. The hope is that the inexpensive drug will break up the blockage and save the system money. Britain's approach is twenty years old - and it kills a lot of people. The Canadian statistics are not much better than those in England."
"Can you answer my original question with a ‘yes' or ‘no'?" I asked him.
The doctor hesitated before responding. "The scientist side of me says that we won't know how ObamaCare will work in these situations until we get there. The human side of me -- let's just leave it at ‘I have my doubts.'"
Happy Father's Day to my dad and to all of those fathers out there. I love you, Dad. I know that I have the best dad -- but so do all of those other people who have a great father.
What none of us know is whether or not we will be able to tell them that we love them ... after ObamaCare.