Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Extending coverage

I am all for providing as many people with coverage as possible. I don't know many people that would say that they are against that, but I am even perhaps pro-universal coverage. It would come at great cost, and perhaps lower quality health care for the top 10% of the U.S. population, but for the other 90%, it would be a great improvement. However, one big problem we would face is the availability of health care.

It's a well-known and well-cited fact that places that have universal health care often have long long lines for care, to the point where people's treatments are suffering. Just as an extreme example, and because this is in the field I am going into, say there is a patient who needs cancer treatment. Cancer isn't something that waits around for you to treat it... if you need to wait 3-6 months before you can begin treatment because all the slots are filled up, it may be too late for you. What was at one point a localized curable cancer may have metastasized by then, making treatment far more difficult and prognosis likely much worse.

A more common scenario is probably one in which people may have to wait even for appointments or spots with primary care physicians - these are the most used and most needed (and arguably the most important) of all physicians for a patient and if health care is extended to a large percentage of the uncovered population, there will not be enough of these doctors. Massachusetts seems to be facing that problem now, as they have mandated that all residents have health care coverage.

Do I think this should stop us from trying to get health care for more U.S. citizens? Of course not... do I think we should take steps to anticipate and prevent this problem? Definitely. What we need to convince more people to go into primary care (whether those are doctors, nurses, etc), but that, ladies and gentlemen, is a whole different post.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

West Philly Obama party

I know this is mostly a medical blog, but Tuesday was a pretty great day for many different reasons, one of which was the presidential race. Impromptu street parties broke out in several areas in Philadelphia, one of which was in West Philadelphia - my neighborhood. It was absolutely amazing. Drummers and musicians came out to 47th and Baltimore and started playing for hours and hours. We didn't come across it until 1am, the musicians had already been going for several hours, and apparently it lasted until about 4am! People were chatting and dancing in the street, which was nearly blocked off. When cars or trains did manage to make it through, everyone was hi-fiving passengers and each other. "O-ba-ma" and "Yes we can" and "U-S-A" cheers broke out throughout the night to the drum beats. I saw so many people I know from the community there, and it was a really really great feeling. My cell phone couldn't take any good pictures, but somebody managed to capture it on video:

Sunday, November 2, 2008

ABATE Philadelphia Biker Toy Run to CHOP

One of my favorite events in the city is the annual ABATE (a motorcyclist rights group in Delaware) sponsored toy run to CHOP. Once a year in November (it happens to be today), thousands of bikers come together to donate toys to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

bikes on the run to chop to hand in our toys 10

They clog up the highways and streets for miles and miles around the city, and the city dispatches cops to help manage the traffic. Any and all bikers are invited to join in, so although you see the occasional recreational biker or motorcycle-owner in the long line of donors, most of them seem to be real "bikers." There are a lot of negative preconceptions about bikers, and it really warms my heart to see some of them, whom I'm sure have very little themselves, donate their time and money to help some sick kids. Nothing beats seeing a big huge bad-ass biker riding his Harley with a huge stuffed bear on his handlebars - it makes me feel like there's still a lot of good, and a lot of people that want to do good, in this world.

Although this video is not of great quality, and lasts quite a long time - you get the idea: