SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Underneath the Politics
By Tim Reveri


February 03, 2009
Tuesday PM

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 it.

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.

Tim Reveri
Ridgewood, NJ

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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