YES WE CAN … DUMP POOR PATIENTS

It would appear that Michelle Obama and her husband’s political cronies have been up to more than giving sweetheart deals to donors. According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

Sen. Barack Obama’s wife and three close advisers have been involved with a program at the University of Chicago Medical Center that steers patients who don’t have private insurance — primarily poor, black people — to other health care facilities.

Poor people used to show up with garden-variety ailments and take up space that the hospital wanted to reserve for well-insured patients in need of high-margin procedures:

In the past, we opened our doors and saw whoever came … We would see a patient who had general pneumonia, and if we needed to see a patient who needed a liver transplant, that liver transplant patient couldn’t get in the door.

So, now the poor patients are dumped on “neighborhood clinics.” But, hey, its for their own good:

The patients get seen sooner and at less expense at neighborhood clinics and other hospitals. U. of C. even offers them a ride on a shuttle bus to other centers and sometimes provides the doctors at those facilities.

Now that’s “change” a hospital finance type “can believe in.”

Comments 4

  1. Nurse K wrote:

    I think you’re misinterpreting the article—sounds like they’re getting poor, uninsured patients hooked up with clinics so they don’t have to use the ER for basic care which is better suited for a clinic anyway. I have dreams about this kind of stuff.

    They say that, rather than having to wait hours at U. of C.’s emergency room, those patients get seen sooner and at less expense at neighborhood clinics and other hospitals. U. of C. even offers them a ride on a shuttle bus to other centers and sometimes provides the doctors at those facilities.

    I’m not sure how the “other hospitals” aspect factors in here (I’m sure they’ve looked at the EMTALA considerations), but there is something that many ERs do called ‘triaging out’, where patients with non-urgent problems are sent to a clinic affiliated with the hospital so they don’t tie up the ERs. I’m guessing they are told they don’t have an emergent medical condition in triage after a basic medical screening exam, and told options about where to get care for their sore throat or pink eye, some of which include clinics at other hospital/facilities that serve the poor.

    Maybe these patients then stick with the clinics they are referred to, some of which are associated with other hospitals.

    I’d need more information, but this sounds like a good idea to me.

    Posted 23 Aug 2008 at 5:59 pm
  2. Catron wrote:

    I might be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt if this weren’t part of a larger and pretty consistent pattern of behavior.

    Posted 23 Aug 2008 at 10:13 pm
  3. SmartDoc wrote:

    Hypocrisy/dishonesty/elitism/corruption/evil we can believe in.

    Posted 24 Aug 2008 at 1:00 am
  4. Marc B. wrote:

    Yes, it seems extraordinary that you complain incessantly about tax payers picking up the bill for the poor being dumped on overstretched emergency rooms and then you complain again when someone does something about it. What would please you?

    Posted 24 Aug 2008 at 3:18 am

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