Monday, June 25, 2007

Atlanta on the verge of a healthcare meltdown

Nothing like a good case of coincidence to turn your head, is there? Here in Atlanta we are beginning to see the true early stages of what will probably turn out to be a major failure of our healthcare system and this is hot on the heels of the new Michael Moore film that will be released this week. For years we have been learning about the financial crisis at one of the major hospitals in Atlanta, Grady Health Care System, and the crisis is finally at a tipping point 7 years after the hemorrhaging began.

Grady Hospital plays a vital and central role in the health care system for the metropolitan Atlanta area, for those not from Atlanta or familiar with our health care system. It is the only level 1 trauma unit in the area and its location in downtown Atlanta puts it in a busy and special location. Indigents and the uninsured also use Grady, as it is the only source of medical care they have and in a metropolitan area of more than 4 million people, you can imagine its level of use simply for those two aspects.

We are now hearing that the financial situation is so dire at Grady that we Atlantans need to consider and prepare for it’s possible closure. If this happens the patients that would normally use the Grady Healthcare System will be redirected to the remaining hospitals and clinics in the metro area. In other words, an already overwhelmed health care system for the metropolitan Atlanta area will have to absorb the load of almost 1 million patients per year.

You may be wondering where the conspiracy is in this story? To be honest, there may be one; there may not be one. What can be said is that the experience of getting sick or being injured in one of the major cities of America may turn into a nightmare of shocking proportions. Who’s to blame, the isolated administrators of the Grady Healthcare System or a broader administration of healthcare in America? Probably a combination of both.

What we will see is patterns emerge from this problem and we will see the pattern solidify in shape and form. The wealthy, those who have the resources to fend for themselves, will be taken care of and their finances will carry them through. The poor and middle class will suffer for they haven’t the financial resources to protect themselves. Lives will be torn, lives will be lost and the strong will continue to survive. In effect, we will see a microcosm of the greater Illuminati Conspiracy Theory. Depopulation and a greater divide between the haves and the have nots.

Many can argue that business, like nature, is a struggle for survival and those that cannot survive in business should and will die. I agree with that idea to an extent. When it comes to vital services, and healthcare is a vital service, survival of the fittest should not be a factor. While Grady does need stronger leadership, it should not be sacrificed as a failed business. It provides more than just a service to the indigent and poor of Atlanta; the very structure of healthcare for all Atlantans and Georgians is at risk if it is allowed to close its doors. Doctors who practice within a 100-mile radius of Atlanta also send their patients to Atlanta for the higher quality of care they can receive in the city. They would no longer be able to do this if Grady is allowed to close as the remaining city hospitals and clinics will be overwhelmed with nearly 1 million more patients per year. The healthcare of Georgians and the healthcare for the entire southeastern US would feel the ripple effects of this.

The release of SiCKO should provoke discussion in this country about the healthcare system and we need to pay attention to how the film is discussed. We know that the health insurance industry has ramped up their attack machine on Moore and they will spin the lies and propaganda about their industry on a daily basis. Let’s try to look through the lies and bullshit that will rise to the top and go beyond them. In the end, all Americans, not just a select few, will benefit if we do this.

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