After working at EMSA for awhile, I began to notice that 9-1-1 calls from homeless shelters in Oklahoma City routinely resulted in emergency transports by EMSA to local hospital emergency rooms. The major complaints documented in the CAD ran the gamut of healthcare concerns, but one kept showing up that I’d never heard of before. (Don’t laugh.) The complaint was PID.
I had no idea what that was, so I asked my boss, the COO. Thank goodness he wasn’t just a COO but a former paramedic. He told me PID was pelvic inflammatory disease. That made sense. Another common complaint on these calls was vaginal bleeding. (Stop wincing.) Apparently, homeless women go through menopause, too. I understood a little bit about this. When I was 16, my mother was hospitalized for four days from blood loss. Her condition was serious and we weren’t sure she was going to be released in time to see me perform the lead in my high school music, The Boyfriend.
So, I began to do a lot of thinking about these women and I started talking to medics about them, and they told me stories about how awful the women were treated in emergency rooms by healthcare providers, including nurses and doctors. Although PID can be caused by many things, it is most commonly associated with sexually transmitted diseases.
I tried unsuccessfully to launch a program with a local hospital to provide pelvic exams to women at homeless shelters. While I had the overwhelming buy-in of one of Oklahoma City’s most well-known gynecologist’s, the hospital administrator the OBGYN asked me to work out details with poo-pooed the project. I knew the project had the potential to become a national news story, which would have been good for everyone, but that administrator did not understand the only thing she cared about – the public relations benefits. What stumped her was how we were going to get homeless women on a bus and to the examination room. After all, it was easier to put a man on the moon.
When people say they aren’t for universal healthcare, I wonder if they think ambulance services should stop providing advanced life support to people without insurance. Because whether you realize it or not, if you call 9-1-1 and ask for an ambulance, lights and sirens are going to show up on your doorstep despite your ability to pay or not.
When people say they aren’t for universal healthcare, I wonder if they think emergency rooms should turn away homeless women who are suffering major blood loss – the result of some horrible STD or worse, an abortion she attempted to perform on herself.
The issue of universal healthcare is infinitely complicated. Sometimes, I don’t even know where to turn to find accurate information. But, what I do have that I think too many people who call themselves Republican or Democrat don’t have, are fixed ideological principles. Am I the only one surprised by this?
What I’ve discovered is that too many people have registered with a political party based on some perceived religious or familial heritage. Their political party of choice was determined through inheritance or perceived religious attribute or the need to be accepted by people in a set group. Alas, people have signed up for clubs and they don’t even know the bylaws. Just try asking someone today why they’re Republican or Democrat. Most people can’t give you three solid reasons why.
So, the challenge in knowing where you stand on the issue of universal healthcare is not eased by the likes of Glen Beck or Rachel Maddow. The challenge is eased by knowing yourself and what you believe. Then and only then will you be able to define your ideological principles. If you are a Christian, then the teachings of Jesus will frame your ideologies.
More than a decade ago, I heard a prayer and I think it’s one of the most important and effective prayers anyone can ever pray: Lord, replace my heart of stone with a heart of flesh. Only then are we compelled to help find the right solutions for society’s most vulnerable people, many of whom are infinitely responsible for the horrible problems that plague them now.
God, give me a heart of flesh. Without You, it’s just not possible to have one.