Free Health Care

Our resident Registered Nurse, brandtrn, will answer any specific health care related questions on a time available basis.
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Remember that I am a NURSE, not a doctor. I know a lot, but certainly don't know everything. If you have a health problem or concern, I'll do what I can to help, but please keep the following in mind: any information that I may give you is not intended as "medical" advice, nor is it intended to serve as a substitute for a consultation with your primary care physician.

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Free Health Care

Postby Yogi » 08 Jul 2012, 11:36

I've lived here long enough, and used the system often enough, to know there is no such thing as free health care in America. While there has been plenty of effort put into reducing the costs, I never heard of any programs where an attempt was made to make it free to those who cannot afford to purchase insurance. But that does not mean it's not possible.

I know of a young family living in what amounts to poverty. While they are barely eking out a living, they frequently have no money for food and much less available for medical care. Thus they don't seek out any. One day the young lady became dizzy, nauseous, and collapsed. Her father got her to a hospital and paid to find out his daughter has a brain tumor. It's benign and was probably caused by brain trauma, but apparently it is growing. The doctor wants to remove it. The young woman does not want to deal with it because she can't afford treatment.

This is going to involve a neurosurgeon, OR staff, lab technicians, and, of course, all the support a hospital can offer - probably ICU for a few days. In other words there will be many bills to pay, not just one. I know hospitals do a certain amount of charity work, but more than the hospital is involved here even if they agreed to it. My question is, "Can this young lady be treated with no expense to her?" Is there some way the average person may not know about?

I believe I know the answer to my question, which is a resounding no. But I have visions of this woman dying a horrible death because an active tumor and a brain cannot coexist in the same cranium. People in this situation get turned down all the time. I realize that. But I know these people personally so that this case matters to me. Is there any hope?
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Re: Free Health Care

Postby brandtrn » 08 Jul 2012, 12:29

Wow, Dennis, I'm so sorry to hear this news about your young friend. This is a tough one -- and, sad to say, the answer to your question "can this young lady be treated with no expense to her?" is probably most assuredly "no." This type of thing was a MAJOR frustration to me when working in the hospital. So many patients ended up on my unit (critical care) simply because they weren't able to afford the medications necessary for their health and well-being...then collapsed, ending up needing critical care, and were discharged with astronomical hospital bills -- only for the cycle to begin all over again. And you're also right about an active brain tumor (even if it's benign) not being able to co-exist with a brain in the same cranium. As you are well aware, the cranium is NOT expandable -- a growing brain tumor will increase intracranial pressure to the point that brain damage and death will occur if something isn't done to debulk that tumor.

There are a number of things which can be done, since I've seen a lot of this done locally for seriously ill patients, and have been involved in many of these activities. The first thing that should be done (assuming that the young lady agrees with it) is to make her condition and need for treatment public. A girlfriend of mine with Hep C who needed a liver transplant was able to receive many thousands of dollars in donations for her care. Her story (along with an interview) was run on our local news channel and a lengthy article was also placed in the local newspaper. The average human being DOES have compassion for others, I have found, and if many people donate even a small amount toward this young lady's care, a significant amount of money could be raised in a fairly short period of time. If the friends and loved ones of this young lady have the time to get involved, fund-raisers can also be put on. I've been involved in many such fund-raisers to raise money for people's medical care...whether it was something as simple as sales of Port-A-Pit chicken or full-fledged benefits with "casino nights" and entertainment such as Elvis impersonators, etc. These things take a LOT of time, but if they have ample local publicity, many thousands of dollars can be raised quickly. Another thing to do is to hit up physicians, hospitals, etc. I've known many surgeons who have been willing to donate their services to indigent patients with urgent medical needs. It's excellent publicity for them, but I also think they get a certain satisfaction from doing these "good deeds." The hospital could be a bit more difficult, but I strongly urge contact with the hospital's social services director. All hospitals which receive state and federal funds MUST, by law, provide a certain amount of charitable services to the indigent. Even if you can't get them to give her the needed treatment for free, I'm certain that you can get them to significantly reduce the price of treatment (which then, might be able to be covered by any donations received). This works out well for them, too, especially from a PR standpoint.

I'm sorry that I wasn't able to give you any more "helpful" news. Yes, it CAN be arranged for this poor young lady to receive the necessary care at little or no cost to her, but it's going to involve a tremendous amount of time and effort on the part of her friends and loved ones to make it happen. I wish it were far easier than this to provide needed care to our fellow human beings. As I indicated previously, this has been perhaps the biggest frustration I've faced throughout my entire nursing career. If you choose to get involved in any fund-raising activities for your friend, and if I can provide you with any long-distance help, please let me know.
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Re: Free Health Care

Postby pilvikki » 08 Jul 2012, 13:54

dennis, the canadian system is starting to limp as well, but do check to see it would work out cheaper perhaps? what about mexico, that WILL be cheaper.

as for donations, let me know when and where, i can help out a bit, too.
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