By Tim Reveri
February 03, 2009
When my Grandpa entered the hospital two weeks before my birthday,
it was supposed to be for a simple operation. It was so minor
that my parents almost forgot to tell me. The procedure went
off without a hitch, and my dad visited him the next day, telling
me later that my Grandpa was his normal, albeit incoherent, grouchy
self. He spent his time in bed bemoaning the Yankees pitching
staff to the family. Two days later, he suddenly fell into critical
condition, he had been retaining fluid in his stomach but, since
there were only two nurses tasked to the entire hospital floor,
it had gone unnoticed. My grandpa had gotten up to go to the
bathroom and ended up not seeing the next morning.
I don't blame the doctors and nurses who were working that night.
The hospital was understaffed and the staff could not help paying
my Grandpa little attention. I'm angry at the under funding of
hospitals and insurance companies that reap profits by refusing
to provide the money people need and deserve for care. Really,
though, I'm angry at the fact that the vast majority of Americans
have failed to comprehend the problems in our healthcare system;
with costs on the rise and insurance companies denying appropriate
treatments at every turn, it's time Americans became educated
about the system that is perpetually denying our interests in
favor of its own. The truth of the matter is that insurance companies
are more worried about losing money than taking care of the sick.
Healthcare needs to about care for the sick rather than profiteering,
and that will never be the case when privatized interests control
Our new president needs to understand that behind every decision
he might make is not just a political statement made for popularity's
sake, but a very real choice that will have profound effects
on people across the country. Recently the idea of a gas tax
holiday came up, and although every economist on record has stated
that such a holiday would ultimately have no effect on the price
of gas and even cause it to increase, the gas tax holiday gained
the support of two presidential candidates. Political decision-making,
oriented toward popularity rather than the benefit of the American
people, must go. It is that kind of decision-making that left
my Grandfather in the hospital to die, and it is that kind of
decision-making that will lead to many more tragedies like his.
In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson wrote, above
all else, that the people have the right to life. It is the duty
of the United States Government to uphold that right as though
it were sacred. Yet our healthcare system is arguably the worst
among the advanced nations of the world although we already spend
more than any other country. England spends 60 percent less per
person than the U.S. does on healthcare, yet every citizen of
England is insured, and has access to good, quality healthcare
that is paid for by their government. Every other wealthy nation
in the world provides universal healthcare, but the U.S. could
do better than all of them. Our government needs to stop wasting
money, pass legislation to grant every American the right to
quality healthcare and stop the destruction of public hospitals
due to the competition that privatized medicine creates. Care
for the sick is the responsibility of the government, and needs
to be brought under government control.
Hospitals need better funding
and better staff- to-patient ratios. Private insurance companies
should only exist for those who desire further coverage than
the government would provide.
As F.D.R. once said The liberty of a democracy is not safe if
the people tolerate the growth of private power to the point
where it becomes stronger than the state itself. That, in its
essence, is fascism. Nothing could be more relevant to the state
of our healthcare system today. We live in a time when corporate
power determines who lives and who dies, and that s a disgrace
to our Founding Fathers, but more importantly, a disgrace to
us. We no longer stand up, we no longer shout, we just accept
and acquiesce until we have lost our rights, our voice, our agency
and our country.
Recently, unbeknownst to my family, I visited my grandpa's grave.
I don't even know why; somehow my car steered me to the graveyard.
I stood in front of his cubbyhole grave and thought about legacy.
I felt I owed something to my grandpa; he had given me so much
love, and I had not even visited him in the hospital. I thought
about the life I was leading and how I could honor him. This
is my start.
About: " I am a high school
senior bound for the University of St Andrews next year. This
essay is about my grandfather, and the inadequate care he received
while at the hospital, who died in December of 2007."
Received January 29, 2009 -
Published February 03, 2009
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