one of the most effective prayers anyone will ever pray

When I worked as the public information officer for the Emergency Medical Services Authority in Oklahoma City, I had access to information about every call EMSA responded to through Computer Aided Dispatch. This assisted me in responding to media queries about major accidents and other emergencies that news outlets became aware of via scanner traffic.

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.

Comments

  1. says

    Baloney – Socialized medicine has only been proven not to work time and time again on Fox News. Anywhere else it works just fine. I have lived in Italy and I have lived in Greece and the system works beautifully and no none dies waiting for help. I work for a Canadian company and I promise you socialized medicine works there wonderfully and Canadians would go to war against big business if their healthcare looked anything like ours.

  2. Baloney says

    Agreed. Although financial aspects shouldn’t be the sole purpose in choosing your profession it is almost a factor.
    I appreciate your post, by the way, and your views.
    I think part of our problem is that we’ve let insurance run the show for too long. Actually, there are lots of issues involved.
    I guess I’d just like us to try fixing some of the broken things first.
    Let’s start by throwing out Congress and starting over. :)

  3. says

    For the record, and Baloney and I have already exchanged emails on this, Baloney is an awesome caring, compassionate Christian woman who as far as I know hates only cruelty, injustice, and the Texas Longhorns. She can speak for herself but I do believe that she has deep misgivings about where our current President is going on a number of issues. I respect her beliefs in that regard and I definitely do not put her in the category of hating our President that I referred to earlier.

  4. Melinda says

    RIGHT ON, Jen! Thank you for this insightful and very much needed post. And it is so interesting that you wrote this because I was just writing a post this morning on giving back–I plan to publish it either later today or tomorrow.

    I am so hoping that universal health care is passed. I have known people who have died because they did not have insurance (if you have AIDS and are uninsured, you are not going to live as long as you would if you had good insurance–and that is a fact).

    Health care should not be a privilege–it is a human right. But of course, I am preaching to the choir here, I know!

    Take care my friend–and bravo to you on this post!

    Melinda

  5. says

    @JIM – Oh, my. Where do I begin? You are so right. How did we get here? What you have pointed out is essentially income disparity, and in Oklahoma it’s increasing (at least according to the last Census). And, what do you want to bet that in the next census we see an even wider gap between the rich and the poor. Meanwhile, plastic surgery is the fastest growing medical specialties in the U.S.

  6. Jim Smith says

    Jen…another great piece. On my way to work this morning I heard a radio ad that consisted of two women talking. The one women was asking the other for the number of her plastic surgeon because she was through having children and wanted to look good in a bikini again. How screwed up have we become when the working poor can’t take their children to the doctor and yet others are jotting down the phone number given out in that commercial? A heart of flesh indeed.

  7. says

    @BALONEY – Thank you for having the courage to disagree. Do bright people only enter medicine because of the financial rewards? I know some wonderful doctors, but I also know some mean ones who should have become astronauts. There are fewer people they can harm on the moon.

    When something is as lucrative as medicine has become, it is bound to be politicized, and when something is politicized, the waters of decision become very murky. The truth becomes harder to find. That is why we must be driven by fixed ideological principles. I believe in representative government; the passion and compassion of democracy, but I have concerns about how the beauty and wonders of capitalism have led to obscene consumerism. We practically have created an aristocracy in this country. I know socialized medicine has its downfalls. I know it and I believe it, but under which system do fewer people suffer? Life is full of choices that involve deciding between the lesser of two evils. I wish there was a choice that was not vulnerable to politics.

    Also, it’s fine to disagree with the President. I believe in free speech. Heck, we’re all bloggers here. But, I never saw Bush spark the vitriol in liberals that Obama has sparked in conservatives. Thank you for adding to this discussion. I’m still reading your blog. Ha! =)

  8. says

    @MALENA – this is the point I got to when I began to have resignation about my career field of choice – public relations. In that role, could I ever be someone who could effect changes in public policy? Could I become someone who did more than serve in a support function? Could I design and implement programs? But, issues management is PR though we seldom rise to that level in the industry. I know you know what I’m talking about. And, yes, we pat ourselves on the back for our global initiatives, when down the street someone needs a $20 prescription to survive. Our conversation yesterday led me to write this post. Thank you for inspiring me! I bet you didn’t know it. And, that hospital administrator. Not much of a humanitarian. These are the people running healthcare. Joy.

  9. says

    @TR – Around Day 20, I started to get really tired of Halloween costumes. I’m never doing that again, but it was fine for the first couple of weeks. I almost forgot why or what or who or when I blogged. It was a great break. And, I did a lot of thinking during that time. Thank you for always being so quick to validate my convictions. You’re always ther to affirm me. Anyone who had you for a friend is so lucky. I’ve said that before, but it’s true. I’m lucky!!!

  10. Baloney says

    Interesting.
    I know Yogi thinks I hate our President – but it’s not like he thinks.
    I would love to see everyone work to solve the problem together. Unfortunately, everyone is too focused on the votes, etc. and not personal life.
    My biggest concern is that socialized medicine (which is what we are really talking about) has proven time and again to not be a good solution in many ways. People die while waiting for treatment.
    Paying top dollar for medical treatment stinks – but it also encourages some of our brightest people to enter the medical field. It’s the way things go. And it isn’t feasible that everyone can pay for medical care.
    My thought is really this – if we are so concerned about health care then why hasn’t welfare been reformed? Why do we keep using that system that is so defunct? Why do we trust the people who created and can’t fix that system to create a whole new one and think it will be different?
    Just because I’m not in favor of socialized medicine does not mean that I don’t see the problem or that I don’t care about people and their medical needs.
    Hope that makes sense. I’m so tired of being bashed and labeled a “hater” for not agreeing with the politics of it.

  11. says

    @YOGI – We must start speaking out against racism. We must vow to confront this behavior even at personal cost and loss. Otherwise, we’re marching people to the gas chamber, right? You’re amazing Yogi. I’m so glad I discovered you and your blog through the Okie Blog Awards a year ago!

    @MELINDA – It’s always so good to see a comment from you. That part about people with AIDS who have no insurance not living as long flushed acid in my stomach. I really hate to point this out, but why are the most compassionate people liberals when conservatives claim to have the corner on real estate in heaven? I’m confused. Thanks for commenting. You are a bright light in the dark worlds of so many people. I know this from reading your blog for more than a year.

  12. says

    Jen,
    How wonderful that you tried to set up a program to help these women. Isn’t it interesting that we often will donate money to help women in third world countries (which we should still do btw) but forget about the women who need care right under our noses?
    How unfortunate in this day and age that something like transportation – in a fast-moving vehicle, not a horse a buggy – would keep us from being able to help.

  13. says

    I’ll reply when I can finally see again through the tears. I had gotten used to the Halloween pin-ups and then you show up with this. Your about the most amazing human I know.

  14. says

    Jen, great prayer.
    The whole political thing frustrates me no end. People are more interested in establishing positions than solving problems. I can see a lot of conservative principles at work in providing universal healthcare.
    I’m really fearful about the hate many people, including many friends and acquaintances, have toward our President.

  15. says

    @ANDI – Thank you! You make such a great point about mental illness, too. So many homeless people are mentally ill, and this is no different than any illness when left untreated. It just gets worse. And, mental illness is not as preventable as many of the things diseases that strain our healthcare system – like obesity, alcholoism, drug abuse and some cancers. And, yet, the worst of the mentally ill often choose homeless. It’s just disastrous!!! And, I agree with you – it is a right; one that ranks higher than my pursuit of happiness via univeral goods like crap from the Dollar Tree. You’re awesome, Andi. And, I have to say – it absolutely is NOT about religion. If it is, we’re in deep trouble.

    @TERRITORY MOM – Thank you. I appreciate the support as a I hang out here blowing in the wind on a limb. Ha! =) You’re always so supportive!

  16. says

    Jen – excellent, excellent post that hope helps people contemplate this “issue.” You are right, it is not about politics, and in my opinion, it is not even about religion – it is about doing the right thing for human beings. I don’t medical issues and have always been lucky enough to have health insurance, but I know I am not the norm and I have friends who have had awful situations. Health care is not a privilege it is a right that every person should have access to and that no one should be denied from. Unfortunately in San Francisco I also see a lot of mental illness and it is sad to know that so many mentally ill people here have no other recourse than homelessness. State and city budgets cut out treatment and facilities years ago and now these people have no where to turn. Mental health is also part of physical health and I would like to see people have access to that as well. Thanks for the outstanding post!