My experience with emergency rooms is so limited that I can't rightly assess the level of service, but New York magazine gave it a No. 1 rating for Emergency Medicine in 2006—this, in comparison with uptown hospitals that have a high percentage of affluent patients. The place was also clean, given its usage. A designated mopper quickly swabbed up blood from the floor and tidied up a bathroom after some vomiting.
Some conclusions from these six hours of observation and some supplementary research:
1. It's harder to be a doctor or a nurse in an emergency room or an inner-city clinic than in suburban offices with generally genteel customers. People in jobs who must take on all comers, including some who are obnoxious and may be dangerous, are worthy of double honor.
2. Reports suggest that medical schools are not graduating enough primary care and emergency physicians to fill needs. Rather than moving toward the organizational and financial constraints of socialized medicine, we should find ways to make the practice of front-line medicine more attractive.
3. Instead of uprooting our entire medical system, we should expand local clinics: Patients would save time and tax¬payers would save money. Last year, according to the National Association of Community Health Centers, clinics—including Christian ones—cared for more than 18 million patients (70 percent of them with low incomes by federal standards) in more than 6,300 communities.
4. Democratic talking points aside, a lack of health insurance is not the same as a lack of quality healthcare.