Medical Care

Tobias Winright 03-01-2016
njene / Shutterstock

njene / Shutterstock

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT on July 23, 2012, I slipped and fell in the bathroom of our hotel room in downtown Indianapolis during a family vacation. My head slammed onto the sink and then the floor.

The noise from my fall awakened my spouse, but when she asked me what happened as I lay on the floor, all I said was, “I’m okay.” Seeing no visible sign of injury, she returned to bed. A stomach bug was making the rounds, so she figured that it must have nabbed me. My vomiting every hour or so the remainder of the night only seemed to confirm this assumption.

At dawn, however, the first words out of my mouth were: “I think I cracked my skull. You’d better take me to the emergency room.” My wife knew something must be wrong, because I never suggest going to the hospital right away. The physician on duty thought I probably had a mild concussion and that I would be able to go home that day, but a CT scan was needed to make sure.

Afterward, he told me that his earlier hoped-for diagnosis was wrong. Instead, I had fractured my skull, with a subarachnoid hemorrhage and a small epidural hematoma under my left frontal region. In other words, I had a traumatic brain injury, and my life was at risk. In fact, I immediately was loaded into an ambulance and taken to a hospital nearby where neurosurgeons would be better able to treat me.

Betsy Shirley 02-01-2016

Nia Zalamea is a board-certified general surgeon. After five years in a traditional medical practice in rural Virginia, she joined the Church Health Center, an organization in Memphis, Tenn., that seeks to reclaim the biblical commitment to care for our bodies, minds, and spirit. She is one of two general surgeons in the U.S. who does full-time charitable work.

1. Why did you leave traditional medical practice? I went into medicine to serve; it was the one craft and skillset I could offer to an individual in front of me. But after five years, I found out that I wasn’t actually living my mission; I had put five people into bankruptcy. What I saw in rural America was that even one operation could completely derail not just one generation but multiple generations. Not just in terms of economics, but in terms of social capital, education, and everything we know that affects health and medical care.

2. What exactly does the Church Health Center do? The Church Health Center is a medical wellness home for the underserved, the uninsured, and the underinsured of Memphis. We provide surgery on a sliding scale; if someone can’t afford the surgery, it gets written off. The hospital supports the surgery in not charging the hospital fee, which is a huge chunk of the cost. So it’s not free, but the out-of-pocket cost for the patient is extremely low. We just make it affordable.

3. What are some of the barriers that prevent your patients from having access to health care? We have ongoing workshops during open enrollment to get people on to Affordable Care Act plans, but what is deemed “affordable” is not always affordable; the majority of my patients are 150 to 200 percent below the poverty line. Another barrier is access: Just because you have an insurance card doesn’t mean the doctor will see you. And this is where a lot of the injustice lies; many doctors’ offices and businesses have closed their doors to new Medicaid patients. Finally, the Affordable Care Act doesn’t cover everyone; my patients include undocumented immigrants, refugees, and patients from other countries whose children are being treated nearby at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

QR Blog Editor 08-08-2012

From The Los Angeles Times:

Escalating violence in Syria has shut down pharmaceutical plants, piling another worry onto the woes facing the Syrian people: Severe shortages of medicine.

The World Health Organization warned Tuesday that growing clashes between forces loyal to President Bashar Assad and opposition fighters around the cities of Damascus, the capital, and Aleppo have damaged and closed many of the local plants that make the vast majority of medicines. The country produces most of its own pharmaceuticals.

Drugs to treat tuberculosis, hepatitis, diabetes and other maladies are urgently needed, along with chemical reagents to screen blood before it can be used for infusions for trauma and surgery patients, according to reports received by the United Nations agency.

Learn more here

LaVonne Neff 08-01-2011

The other day the mail brought an advertisement for something I desperately need (or so the ad suggested). If I ordered it right now, the ad said, I would save a hefty percentage off the usual price. In vain I searched the flyer for the price. None was listed -- not the total, not my monthly payment. I was apparently supposed to place my faith in the kindly marketers and order it anyway.

I guess I should be used to this sort of marketing. After all, that's how our federal government does business. Shall we a. fight a war in Iraq? b. add a war in Afghanistan? c. subsidize medical care for seniors and the poor? d. rescue failed financial institutions? e. subsidize growers of corn and soybeans? or f. fund interstate highways?

Jim Wallis 06-16-2011

We are looking for 1,000 pastors to debunk a myth based on the political assertion that government doesn't have any responsibility to poor people. The myth is that churches and charities alone could take care of the problems of poverty -- especially if we slashed people's taxes. Both this assertion and myth contradict the biblical imperative to hold societies and rulers responsible for how they treat the poor, and ignore the Christian tradition of holding governments accountable to those in need. Faith-based organizations and government have had effective and healthy partnerships, and ultimately, the assertion and myth have more to do with libertarian political ideology, than good theology.

Elizabeth Palmberg 05-31-2011

With lower-cost heath care, would I be dead?

This week UnitedHealthcare told a stroke victim that her health insurance with them does not include the rehabilitation necessary for her to walk, eat, or speak again.
Lisa Sowle Cahill 06-01-2010

At the end of life, how can people of faith prepare for a good death?

Lynne Hybels 02-24-2010
During the past two years, I've traveled internationally quite extensively, focused on issues related to extreme poverty, HIV/AIDS, gender-based violence, and war.
Bill Quigley 02-01-2010
Smoke and flames rose from the sidewalk. A white man took pictures. Slowing down, my breath left me. The fire was a corpse. Leg bones sticking out of the flames.
LaVonne Neff 01-21-2010
While talking with George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America yesterday, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele neatly summarized th
LaVonne Neff 01-19-2010

Over my working life, I have seen investments inflate. I have also seen prices inflate. And even though, on the whole, investments inflated more than prices, I have seen something more ominous: I have seen expectations inflate.

Onleilove Alston 12-03-2009
Our country has a long history of underserving and mistreating African-Americans and other marginalized groups.
Paul Kordis 09-21-2009

Sojourners received this letter in response to our action alert last week calling for your letters and prayers to challenge Glenn Beck's view of the health-care debate:

The United States is the richest nation on earth. It has some of the best-trained physicians and best medical facilities on earth. It is a leader in medical innovation and medical education.
Elizabeth Palmberg 09-01-2009
Two great ideas from former Sen. John Danforth, an Episcopal priest and Republican from Missouri who served in the U.S. Senate for nearly two decades, are under fire.
Steve Holt 08-28-2009

I need to find something to do until Sept. 13 or thereabouts. The Daily Show is on a three-week vacation until then. (Anyone have a good home remedy for the Stewart Shakes?) I kid.

Asma Mobin-Uddin 08-25-2009
As representatives from many different faiths, we stand together today, united in our support for health-care reform so that affordable, quality health care can be made available to all.

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