When I went back to RIC to get my bachelors I was taught that advocacy is part of public health nursing, so I was back at the debate, with a sign, on Thursday night at the West Warwick Senior Center.
This time the pro-reform crowd was better organized, with signs and stickers. Linda Kushner was there, I saw a couple of my Unitarian friends. I got there before 4:00 and got the last space in the parking lot, the line wound around the building.
Again I got into hot arguments with anti-reform people. This time some men who seemed to be Constitutional fundamentalists. They brought up a lot of issues like the gold standard and Gulf War vaccines. I shared my experience of seeing so much preventable suffering and disability due to lack of care. I got basically the same answers. We can’t afford it, those people should have taken better care of themselves in the first place, they can always go to the emergency room, most of them are illegal aliens anyway. Even when I approached a guy who was holding a sign that said- ‘Obama Lies, Grandma Dies’ about the rationing of health care I could not get through. If rationing is so evil, why are we letting insurance companies do it for profit?
There was a lot of anger about multiple issues. The Constitution guys were very angry at the corporations, and I have to say that the influence of insurance and pharmaceutical corporations is a troubling aspect of this plan. But letting business as usual prevail will not do anything but make them stronger. I’d like to see more than the moderate reforms proposed, but being a believer in harm reduction I don’t disparage measures that help at least some people get access to care.
After harsh words had passed between me and them, I heard one of them call, “Nurse, nurse!” An elderly woman, who had stood in line in the hot sun for an hour was getting short of breath. Someone had found a folding chair for her and given her some water.
I knelt down by her and asked her where she lived, suspecting she might have walked from one of the nearby senior complexes. I asked her if she had an inhaler, if she had used it-yes. “Let me call rescue,” I said, “you can sit in the truck, it’s air-conditioned and they can check you out.”
“No, don’t,” she said, “I don’t want the rescue.”
She was talking easily, her color was okay. “Well, let’s get them to let you go inside where it’s air conditioned, and you can sit for a while and drink some water and see if you feel better.”
I was passing the word up the line for someone to open the door and let the woman in when a police officer climbed over the rail. He said he had called rescue, so I stepped back and let him do his job. Three police escorted the woman inside.
In a few minutes rescue arrived.
I looked at Emergency Services in action. An expression of our common responsibility for one another. A safety net we are used to and would not discard. Would we be able to build a system like this today, when there is so much fear and mistrust, so little willingness to invest in a better future?
Well, work is the curse of the blogging class. I have yet to mention the LaRouchites, but that will have to wait. I’d better get out the door to the day job.
UPDATE: Your correspondent didn’t try to get a seat inside the Senior Center, figuring someone else should have a chance and anyway her ears hurt from all the hollering in Warwick the night before. Projo.com says that the discussion inside was civil and productive. Yea, seniors.