Church and Health Care



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Jim Parsons? The skinny guy from The Big Bang Theory?

Good sentiments all. In the 19th and early 20th century many if not most hospitals were established as religious ministries in the healthcare field by various denominations. But they were overcome by the transition of healthcare from a pastoral calling of sorts - think of Norman Rockwell's maudlin but yet touching illustration of a kindly old small town doc applying the stethescope to a little girl's dolly - or of Johnny Cash's mostly forgotten song "Doc Brown," (on the "Ride This Train" album) about a country sawbones whose sign notifying patients of his relocated office - "Doc Brown has Moved Upstairs" -became his tombstone - to just another business sector concerned about the bottom line. A friend who was an organizer for SEIU (Service Employees International Union, AKA the "Justice for Janitors" people) remarked upon learning that a hospital belonging to the Catholic relief agency Sisters of Charity was closing rather than face dealing with a unionized nursing force, "Sisters of Charity is anything but."

And so it goes: And then there's the whole thing about our American Religious Right figures fighting the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare) because.....uh, how much of a copay did Jesus charge for his healings? Was that in sheckels or piasters or what?

The right wing claims the poor can always get medical care from the ER or a charity hospital - but these do not pay for beyond emergency procedures and maintenance. Dan Savage mentions in his book of essays "Savage Nation" the case of a nine year-old-boy who died because his family had no insurance - he had a tooth abscess and before the tooth could be pulled the infection spread to his brain and killed him. Savage doesn't share all the facts so I'm sure the by-your-bootstraps people can imply the blame goes to parental neglect - but shouldn't healthcare providers, or the school nurse, have reported it? And if so, shouldn't he have been referred to a kindly dentist who would do it pro bono (You know, a dental provider with a drill instead of a stethescope like Cash's Doc Brown - who marked the accounts of all his poor patients as "paid in full" in his ledger? ?

George Nixon Shuler more than 8 years ago

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