All through the night, thousands slept outside the stadium, all races, but mostly black and brown waited, hoping to get in. Inside: desperately needed healthcare services at no fee. Outside: displaced peoples.
(photos: ruth fremson, nytimes)
No, this was not Hurricane Katrina and the painfully revealing days which followed. This was last night, at the Los Angeles Forum in California, former stadium home of the Lakers. Look closely at the picture above, the front page picture of today’s New York Times, those are all dentist chairs. Lined up like livestock in a stadium. Thousands of people recently displaced off Medical rosters crammed towards the Forum doors, hands outstretched, for a chance at free, desperately needed care.
This looks like Katrina, but no national emergency has been designated.
Think about what the media is feeding you right now on the issue of healthcare. Mainly, the media amplifies debate between politicians and pundits. Town halls are good photo opps, real emotion, real anger, just like a talk show, and once again the American public is riveted on a new news issue. In the midst of all the “debate,” people are in pain and dying, and Remote Area Medical is an organization that has stepped up to help provide health care. Plain and simple. They are serving thousands for free right now in Los Angeles. If you are there, and you need care, arrive early, and expect to wait long. But once you are in, you are golden.
“On Tuesday, volunteers provided 1,448 services to about 600 patients, including 95 tooth extractions, 470 fillings, 140 pairs of eyeglasses, 96 Pap smears and 93 tuberculosis tests, the organizers said. Hundreds of volunteer doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses and others are expected to serve 8,000 patients by the end of the eight days.” (Article: “Thousands Line Up for Promise of Free Health Care“)
The health care “debate,” looks sensational, like an angry confrontation at a town hall meeting with Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter:
But there is no debating the overwhelming need for care, and no sensationalist lure behind the real images of healthcare as a pending national emergency. Here, an elderly couple, one a retired school principal, the other, a retired nurse, wait patiently for much needed care.
Here, a woman experiences the already scary dentist visit, lined up like livestock on the stadium floor.
There are many versions of the truth about health care in America. “Debate,” “angry townhall,” are only a narrow glance at the way this national emergency has hit the ground amongst people living in America and our patient quest to end curable pain.