The Friday of the Labor Day weekend, I moved my mother to a nursing facility closer to my home. The main reason she and I decided to move her was for more frequent visits and for her to be able to see more of her grandchildren. I left her at 5:00 p.m. on Friday evening and received a call Saturday morning around 5:00 a.m. that she had died late Friday night. Quite frankly, I am still in shock. I was awakened from a deep sleep ﾖ
my nursing brain not having kicked in ﾖ as the physician, who had never even seen my mother, nor had I ever met, went on to give me the brief details of what had transpired since I left my mom awake, alert, and sitting watching her TV. You never know how you will respond to the news of losing a parent. I know the answer to that question now: It is very sad.
But in the days since then, my training as a nurse and my education in dignity for all (not some) has caused me to dig deep, especially since we as a nation are in conversations about how we can fix our broken healthcare delivery system. Certainly, healthcare was not delivered the day I lost my mother. And honestly, my mother was not in need of healthcare. She was in need of medical care. She was sick and she needed a doctor ﾖ one who would prescribe medicine and treat her sickness ﾖ and not “deliver” healthcare to her. Pizza and mail are delivered. Babies are delivered. Medicine is an art .
This summer, the CBC served as a co-sponsor of a conference on Healthcare and the Common Good . I was privileged to hear many experts speak about our broken healthcare delivery system, our obligations to care and treat the sick, and the proper role of the physician and medicine. One speaker suggested a BHAG , to be sure one that I had never given much thought to and one that is still challenging my thinking. What if we got rid of the middle man? What if we put medicine back in the hands of the physician and allowed him to treat and heal the sick? What if third party groups stopped telling physicians how to treat their patients? What if the government didn’t tell physicians how to run their professional practices? How much money would be freed up and how much would costs be driven down, so much so that all people could afford to receive medical care? Isn’t it true that the sick need a doctor ﾖ and not some big, monolithic, impersonal healthcare delivery system?
Last week we ran Wesley Smith’s brilliant piece on ” Killing for Organs .” We at CBC Central have been amazed with our readers’ responses to Wesley’s piece. Our non-statistical data shows this to be one of our most forwarded pieces. (Don’t worry, CBC Big Brother is not watching. We don’t know who forwarded it to whom; we just know a lot of you sent this onto someone you know.) And many of you took the time to write to us with your comments and reactions. Again, another non-statistically significant fact, but many of you shared how you’d removed your “little pink dot” from your driver’s license. Not because you were against organ donations: you just want to be sure you are good and dead before your organs are removed.
We are reminded of the fragility of life, the dignity of all humans, and the ancient call of the Oath : “I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous.”
We all will face crises and be put in positions where tough decisions must be made. Training and education are so important to prepare us for when those times come. I’ve seen too many people facing challenges that had never given thought to such a circumstance. And times of crisis are not the best time to be getting up-to-speed. The military trains. Firemen prepare. Disaster teams drill. And we must do the same.
We hope that the CBC helps you find the training, preparation and readiness you need to face the bioethical collisions in your life.
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