In my role at the university, I have the honor of interviewing amazing candidates for our Internal Medicine Residency Program. These fourth-year medical students are truly inspiring. They have done exceptionally well in their coursework and on the patient wards. They have participated in local, regional, and national medical organizations to improve the health care system. They have conducted cutting edge research. But what is most striking is how many of them have spent significant time volunteering at free medical clinics.
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I find our medical graduates’ commitment to community service deeply inspiring. But at the same time, I am discouraged that so many people living in this country rely on free clinics that are underfunded and poorly resourced.
While these clinics do amazing work, they also are one reminder that our system fails to address the health care needs of this country. In clinic this week, I saw a patient for whom I have been caring for nearly a decade. She was totally distraught about her inability to pay for her medications. Without her anti-rejection medications, she will lose her transplanted kidney and need to return to dialysis. With type 1 diabetes, if she doesn’t take insulin, she will be hospitalized or die.
Through the Herculean help of her family, she barely can meet her needs, and the financial burden on her family is unsustainable. The issue of intolerably high medication costs is so acute that underground exchanges are developing in which patients share medications they no longer need. Others are choosing to either ration their pills or to go without.
As practicing providers, we are increasingly forced to make calculations about whether a cheaper, less-effective medication will be sufficient. Why do we tolerate a system that fails in so many basic ways?
It is unconscionable that the Senate leadership moved forward with a tax plan that is projected to result in 13 million individuals losing health insurance. It is appalling that the nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services led a company that dramatically raised the price of insulin, threatening the health of the 30 million people with diabetes living in the United States. Is this really who we are?
Health care is hard. We have complex problems and patients in desperate need. We need our elected representatives to start working toward real and equitable solutions based on facts and data. Our patients deserve better.
Robert M. Sargis, assistant professor, Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, and metabolism director, Physician-Scientist Training Program, Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago
Action by Illinois lawmakers regarding funeral processions is long overdue. Last week, we had yet another dangerous and chaotic funeral procession from Chicago to suburban Hillside, and the police chief there stated that these incidents are becoming a nearly weekly occurrence.
Many of us who live in the suburbs have seen lengthy processions with blaring music and persons hanging out of car windows. Outlawing this obsolete tradition would in no way interfere with people going to a memorial service and then heading to the cemetery on their own, and we could dispense with the unsafe and disruptive conditions these processions create. It is time for lawmakers to act.
Sean Nettle, Homewood
Bad global image
The new global image of America: a president who admitted to the world on tape that women are his sex objects and, “When you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. … Grab ’em by the p—-.”
It makes sense that a sexual predator would warmly embrace an accused pedophile because they are cut from the same, vile, disgusting cloth.
Mike Burke, Countryside
Dec. 7 is a sad day for many reasons, one of which gets virtually no mention from the media wing of the war party. It’s the most recent event that triggered a congressional declaration of war as required by the Constitution.
As World War II was ending, President Franklin D. Rooesevelt struck a deal with Uncle Joe Stalin to promote peace in spite of their ideological differences. Stalin would control the nations bordering Russia to thwart a third invasion in the century. FDR would develop Western Europe as a bulwark against communism. Both kept their word till FDR died three weeks before VE Day.
The grand bargain died with him as the neoconservatives of the time told successor Harry Truman that without a permanent war economy we’d incur another Depression. The new enemy, Russia, had to be resisted everywhere, and the Cold War was born. This spawned the military-industrial complex that has ruled American foreign policy 72 years on now. Today, our trillion-dollar war machine is bombing innocents all over the Middle East, Africa and Asia without a whimper of protest from the cowards in Congress.
Walt Zlotow, Glen Ellyn
Attacks on abortion
” ‘Unborn children’ in tax bill an anti-abortion ploy” illustrates yet another example of conservative lawmakers’ attacks on abortion access from all sides. Whether they are nominating and appointing anti-choice Cabinet members or introducing anti-abortion legislation that ignores medical evidence, we must end this continual onslaught of assaults on access to comprehensive reproductive health care.
These efforts to sneak anti-abortion language into policies puts ideology before medicine, and it can have serious impact on patient’s access to reproductive health care. As an OB/GYN in Chicago, I trust my patients to make decisions that are best for them and their families. While I’m proud to practice in a state that values access to comprehensive reproductive health care as seen by the passage of HB40 earlier this year, I worry for the future and well-being of my patients.
fellow, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Chicago