Nothing is certain but death…

How’s that old saying go about death and taxes? Seems to me a bit more of the latter could have prevented the former, as in this sad case:

A spokeswoman for University Hospital has confirmed a man who witnesses say waited close to 16 hours in the emergency room died Tuesday morning.

Alfred Garza, who said he spoke to the man while also awaiting treatment, said the man was in obvious pain and told him he had been waiting in the ER since 8:00 a.m. Monday.

Garza said he noticed the man in distress at about midnight and asked a nurse to check his vital signs.

“She stood up and went and talked to another nurse, and they just stood at the window and looked at him,” said Garza.

Garza said he sat next to the man a half-hour later and noticed he appeared to have stopped breathing. This time, he said he was able to get a nurse to attend to him.

Charles Davila, who said he was also waiting in the ER with his wife, said the nurse tried to wake the man, but he remained unresponsive. At that point, Davila said the man was taken to receive treatment.


“It was very frightening,” said Davila. “I had been there for a while, watching this man wheel around in his chair, and if it was my grandfather, I would be very, very upset.”

Both Davila and Garza said they believe the man’s life could have been saved had he received proper medical care in a more timely manner.

A sad sign of the times indeed. And shameful, too, that hospital staff seem to have grown so callous to the needs of the elderly in their emergency rooms. Nobody should have to go for so many hours without even seeing a doctor. The very least those nurses who stood behind their window looking out at him could have done was to approach him and say something like, “Sir, how long have you been waiting here?” O Canada, where’s the outrage?

Oh yeah…I guess I should say that this unconscionably long wait time happened not in Canada (where right-wing wankers like those at the Fraser Institute keep clamoring for more privatized health services, presumably to prevent such things), but in San Antonio, Texas.

Yes, that’s right–this tragic wait-time death occurred in the Fraser Institute’s beloved model nation, the United States–where the taxes are lower, and privatized healthcare is supposed to take care of all that. And where, by strange coincidence, public healthcare, provided by overstretched ERs such as this one, suffers accordingly. After all, it’s the public ERs of places like University Hospital that have to pick up the ever-growing “slack”–of people who can’t afford expensive private plans, or those who have them but are still not covered for certain things. “Pre-existing conditions”, I believe the euphemism goes.

In this case, it would appear that old age and its many attendant infirmities are pre-existing conditions that all the major private insurers would refuse to cover. This sort of thing happens all the time, not only in San Antonio, but all over the US. And that’s no surprise, seeing as the elderly are living on fixed incomes. They’re too old and unwell to work. Their pensions are often barely adequate (or downright inadequate). They couldn’t afford private insurance even if they found a plan that would cover every inch of them–and such a plan does not exist in the land of Sicko. So they are forced to rely on the public system…and the public system, being grossly underfunded, lets too many of them die like this.

Maybe a bit more taxation could have bought this poor soul a bit of time, instead of leaving him in the ER for 16 hours, waiting for death. Just something for all the teabaggers out there, north and south of our borders, to consider. After all, they’re not getting any younger (or healthier), either. And if one of them should collapse while wheezing a teabaggish slogan like “Keep your government hands off my Medicare”, why…just think what could happen.

Or not happen, more likely.

This entry was posted in Canadian Counterpunch, Economics for Dummies, If You REALLY Care, Isn't It Ironic?, Not So Compassionate Conservatism, She Blinded Me With Science, Socialism is Good for Capitalism!, The "Well, DUH!" Files, The United States of Amnesia. Bookmark the permalink.