By Dr. Shelley Dworet
Back in the 1960s when I first thought about becoming a pediatrician, I was in my mid-teens. I asked my own pediatrician, a woman who had known me since birth, if I could shadow her for a day. What an experience to watch her see patients at Brigham Women and Children’s Hospital in Boston, then follow her back to her elegant office in Brookline.
Behind the closed doors of her private space, her desk was piled with charts and letters, and journals stacked on the floor and chairs. All at once, I didn’t feel so guilty about the state in which I left my bedroom that morning.
To her patients and their families, Dr. Allers was a warm, soft-spoken woman who inspired confidence. She took time to talk to me and offer support to my single Mom rearing three kids in the shadow of her incorrectly diagnosed mental illness.
No hospital owned Dr. Allers or told her how much time she could spend with her patients, now called consumers by insurance companies. No one dictated how she should code her visit to “improve her numbers.” When my mother did not pay her bill on time, the phone did not ring on a nightly basis with calls from collection agencies.
The overall sense was one of caring and pursuit of a highly trained calling.
What happened to this beloved profession? It has become a profit-driven financial institution owned by the medical equivalent of the big Wall Street banks. These “owners” are insurance companies and corporate hospital entities all about profits. We have pharmaceutical giants spending a fortune marketing their overpriced drugs, while new drug research is funded through grants from the NIH, paid by the taxpayer. Medicine has been hijacked and held hostage by corporate control and greed.
How do we save this noble profession?
We, the people, must insist that health care be publicly financed and universal. It must be available to everyone equally, like public education, and police and fire protection. The majority of people polled say YES to publicly-funded, universal health care.
How do we do it? We have a voice and a movement. It is Health Care for All Colorado. Join this grassroots organization and create the tidal wave of support for publicly-funded health care for all.
We can do this. Go to www.healthcareforallcolorado.
Oh, and Dr. Allers? When I was 18, she left Boston, headed for Arizona, and helped create the Pediatrics Department at the new University of Arizona School of Medicine. Never underestimate the power of each person, and then the next, and then the next…
Dr. Shelley Dworet is president of Health Care for All Colorado, a group advocating for a public universal health care system in Colorado.