Back in the fifties when we lived in Harlem, my parents didn't have insurance for a while (and very little money). I was probably thirteen years old when I came down with a raging case of tonsillitis. I recall tossing around, feverish, on the couch in front of our black-and-white television while my parents were at work. Days went by and I wasn't getting any better; finally, Mother took off work and drove me to General Hospital early one morning.
I remember, even now, how awful I felt, weak as a kitten and half-nauseous. At General it was first come, first served, unless you had something majorly wrong like a bullet wound. We waited and waited until after noon, and I still hadn't been seen; I felt so bad, I begged Mother to just take me home, and she did. I got well on my own.
Cliff had a lot of experience with General Hospital too; his family lived hand to mouth during his growing-up years, so it was their hospital of choice. He too has terrible memories of the place, although his mother did beat cancer, thanks to them. I wish I had a picture of the place as it was in the fifties.
Why am I bringing this up?
General Hospital was replaced by Truman Medical Centers. That's where the poor folks go these days, those who aren't fortunate enough to have insurance, the people who are picked up in gutters half-dead from a drug overdose. It's a decent hospital, by the way. They certainly fill a need. "Give me your tired, your poor," I hear them say.
I have a feeling they are about to get a lot more business.
I read an article from the Washington Post today (you can read it HERE) that tells me a lot of doctors are no longer accepting new Medicare patients because they're only going to get half as much money from Medicare as they've been receiving. This isn't something that will happen in ten or twenty years; it starts in December. As Cliff's heart doctor said, "Welcome to Obamacare."
I was telling Cliff about this today and he said, "Then what will we do for a doctor?"
"We'll have to go to Truman East," I told him. "and wait our turns, just like we used to do at General Hospital."