“My plunge into the world of ambulances, emergency rooms and minor surgery came without warning, like a trapdoor opening beneath my feet. One second, I was skiing along happily in upstate New York’s Adirondack Mountains with my son and a group of friends. The next, I was writhing on the slope in pain — having wrenched my right leg in an awkward, slow-speed fall. In the blink of an eye, I went from a healthy and independent 52-year-old to a trauma victim in need of a lot of expert help from a lot of people.”
“What happened next gave me an up close and personal view of a health care system that I’m more accustomed to writing about — and sometimes criticizing — from afar. I was pleasantly surprised.”
“Signs of reform in action were everywhere. Virtually everyone who approached me asked for my name and birth date and scanned a bar code on my ID bracelet — precautionary measures to avoid dangerous medication errors and other treatment mixups. The surgeon marked my injured hip with a felt-tip pen, to make doubly sure that he operated on the correct limb. Meanwhile, the staff was constantly using rubber gloves and hand sanitizer to guard against infections that have become a major cause of preventable illness and death.”
“Even before I went under the knife, a care coordinator was quizzing me about the home I would be returning to in temporarily disabled condition. How many steps to the backdoor? On what floor are the bedrooms and bathrooms?”
“This is exactly the kind of discharge planning hospitals should be doing — to avoid seeing their patients bounce back a few days after checking out.”
For all its flaws, the Affordable Care Act is slowly working to end this national shame by giving all Americans access to affordable health coverage — which is the right thing to do.
No one should have to live outside the safety net that was there for me when I needed it.
*to read the full NYDN article “What My Broken Hip Taught Me” by Bill Hammond highlight and click on open hyperlink http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/broken-hip-taught-article-1.1709503