By Mydra L. Kelly,
Okay Baton Rouge, I keep trying to get to my sweet, encouraging inspirational articles. However, every time I head in that direction, I get interrupted by reality! So here it its. Here we are, a capital city in the United States of America and we can't even make sure that we keep our people alive? Really? Now here is something for the politicians, officials and just plain ole movers, shakers and grassroots people to talk about. Wait a minute...let's dare not leave out the clergy because we have a church on every block of the city, and you mean to tell me nobody has a voice. People it is shameful that we have sat back and allowed the governmental system to get us into the predicament that we are in today in Baton Rouge as far as health-care goes.
As of March 31, 2015, one of the primary hospital systems announced that there would no longer be an emergency room at their facility. Now in times gone, they would at least let you come and sit in the emergency room. They might let you die there if you didn't have insurance, but now they have completely shut it down so it doesn't matter if you have insurance or not if you have not. So if you have not taken out an annual payment option with an ambulatory service with good drivers that will get you to the far end of the city in a hurry; I hate to tell you but your butt is in trouble! Oh and for all of you pregnant people in need of prenatal care and don't even mention labor; you better hope that somebody in your family knows something about birthing babies because you have to go farther than that, nearly to Timbuktu. However, I think now CATS has finally put a bus line out there so if your contractions are far apart and your water doesn't break at midnight, you just might make it before sunrise.
Now for years Earl K Long hospital served the poor, the indigent and people who just didn't want to travel to the far side of town, but then somebody in state government got the notion, and I am not mentioning names, but all of us know who they are; anyway they shut down the EKL. My mother worked at this facility for almost thirty years and so did many of you, but BAM! Jobs gone, health-care services gone, and sick people are just out there on their own. So what kind of message does this send to the world about how Louisiana feels about the sick, the poor the health-care workers, those trying to learn and grow and do research to find cures to help save lives? Well I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure e it out...it says we don't give a snap about you! So what this should say to potential businesses and people who are considering relocating here or sending their children here to go to college is STOP, hold up, wait a minute before you decide to come to Louisiana. You better understand if you get sick, if you loose your job, if you by any of these incidentals you find yourself with no money; this is not the place you want to be. Being in Baton Rouge or most other places in Louisiana under these conditions is like a black man in the early sixties running out of gas on a back road in Mississippi. Detrimental to you health!
Oh and let's not forget service provision. Who is graduating these nurses, cna's and doctors these days. Forget about bed-side manner, did anyone tell you that when you signed up to be a health service professional that professional was really a part of your job description? You are not dealing with animals, these are people you are supposed to be taking care of. However, maybe the reason why your attitudes are so crappy is because the provider to patient ratio is a whopping 1 to 17! Are you kidding me?!
I am shamed to say that that best health care service that I have witnessed since being back in this city has been at a veterinary hospital. I took my dog “Big” in to be cared for and while we were there I had to end up putting him to sleep. The doctor and the nurses were caring and compassionate. They did not rush me to make a decision, they gave me an option. When I chose the option best for me and my dog, they walked me through the entire process and even cried with me as I said my final goodbyes. They helped me make burial preparations,I elected to have him cremated, and a week later I got a call from the vet to see how I was doing. The next week they sent me sympathy card. Now were talking about a pit bull people, a DOG! I would only pray to have this kind of care for myself or loved one in a facility for humans.
Lately, I have been in and out of the most sacred heath-care facilities in the city, I wont mention any name, but let's just say that their motto is spirituality and God, supposedly. Down every corridor are scriptures and spiritual sayings, which are supposed to uplift and encourage. Prayer comes across the intercom every hour, and then the nurses come in snappy, nasty and without any regard for you or your loved one. When you tell the doctors that you are people of faith they shun you and treat you as though you are from a foreign land. Now in a place that does not acknowledge God or give credence to his sovereignty I could see this, however when the entire foundation of your institution is wrapped around this belief system something is wrong. Could it be that 90% of your staff didn't get the memo? kidding me!
I have worked for secular organizations where we were advised to meet people where they were and given the liberty to be who we were as long as it did not violate any rights or disrespect an individual. For the majority of my life I have been Christian. Therefore it didn't matter where I worked; if I worked with you, you had a Christian counselor because my core values never changed based upon the name of an institution. If a client was non- Christian, I respected that, however it had nothing at all to do with me. Maybe I couldn't pray aloud or with them, but I still prayed. Perhaps I could not openly display my faith, but my faith simply went under cover. Yet in an environment where everything around you says, “God is here” but when patients choose to believe, trust and seek the sovereign God and they are encouraged not to not by one, but a large percentage of your staff; there is a real breakdown in communication. Didn't anybody tell you that He is the great physician? My grandmother used to say God gave us doctors and he can use them if he so chooses, however in their own strength they are exactly what they are referred to as, “practicing physicians”, and most of the time they are practicing on you!
In today's society, I believe that people are no longer choosing there profession because they feel a call, most are simply chasing a pay check, and trust me it shows. There is no longer pride and value in taking on a profession. A nurse and /or CNA should be in this vocation because they genuinely care about people, and not simply because it sounds good and the zeros are adding up on your check. Well, I know CNA's aren't in it for the money, but just because Dinky college told you that you could be out of there in six months and you only learned barely enough to merit you wearing scrubs so you could get paid, NO! Unacceptable. My mother did this job for twenty five plus years working eleven to seven and three to eleven shifts and she ran happily off to do it, and came home everyday talking about the people she had helped while she was there. She understood what it meant to serve, and baby in order to wipe folks bottoms and see them in their most vulnerable conditions, trust me, it has to be about more than just you being cute in your nursing suit! When I worked in the hospital system as a social worker, I looked at ever individual as my extended family. Often I would consider if this were my loved one, how would I want them to be treated and I acted accordingly. If this is the measuring stick that some of these people are working by however, we have a problem because there are bunches of people who really don't like their family members in this city!
It is time to raise the standard in health-care Baton Rouge. We need lobbyist and ordinary people to make some noise out there and let the government know these practices are unacceptable! One thing is pretty sure in this life there is a 50/50 chance that the longer you live, at some point in this life you will need some kind of medical attention. The kind of medical attention you get and the quality of care may determine or at least contribute to the way the remainder of your life will be.
We all have a responsibility in this area. This includes institutions of higher learning. Teach more than just the basics. My Social Work 101 professor at SLU told us sometimes social work may mean going into the trenches, cleaning toilets...whatever it takes to meet and help people. Help individuals who are going into health-care understand that people matter, and if you are not a people person then you might want to major in computer science? People matter to God too; so much so that his word says when you have done it to the least of these, you've done it to me.
Anywhere you are, if you call yourself a Christian you don't stop being it because of your title or your uniform or anything. If you feel that you need to do this, then do us all a favor, stop calling yourself a Christian because you are confusing folk. None of us are perfect. We all have bad days, but when bad days turn into weeks and years...it may be time to go back to the drawing board.
I don't want to smear those many health-care professionals who are the exception to the rule, because they are out there. Sweet, compassionate, kind, caring, loving doctors, nurses, cna's and other. Thank all of you for the gift you are to us. We appreciate you, however we should not be satisfied Baton Rouge until the rule is that there will be exceptional and quality medical care for every one in this city.