Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The first blood bank in the world was established at Cook County Hospital by Dr. Bernard Fantus in 1937.
   
     
     
     



Standing in line for your life

Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Chicago Tribune
by Cory Franklin

In the former Soviet Union, long waits and delays for consumer goods and services were a defining feature of communism. There is a joke about a man in Moscow shopping for a car. When he found the one he wanted, he asked when he could pick it up. Checking his calendar, the salesman told him that, because of production delays, he was assigned a pickup day exactly five years from next Friday. Visibly upset, the man replied, "But that's the day the plumber is supposed to come to my house and fix the sink."

The Soviet Union may have crumbled, but delays in services have immigrated to Western health-care delivery systems. The Times of London recently headlined the plight of a young woman told she must wait 80 weeks for a brain scan after being injured in an auto accident. (After the story ran, hospital officials, in damage-control mode, cut her wait to four months with a promise the maximum waiting time would soon be down to a more reasonable 26 weeks.) In Quebec recently, the Canadian Supreme Court permitted a Montreal businessman, forced to wait a year for government-sponsored hip-replacement surgery, to pay for the operation privately.

Not to be outdone here in Chicago, patients in the Cook County health-care system routinely wait months for specialty appointments. In addition, at a recent hearing at Stroger Hospital, patients described waiting days, sometimes weeks, for prescriptions to be filled, then facing lines of several hours when they went to pick them up. (Hospital officials, in damage-control mode, assured everyone they were working to improve the problem. True to their word, the next day they installed chairs outside the pharmacy. The lines were no shorter, but the first 20 patients had the luxury of sitting while they waited.)

If there is any good news, it's that improved diagnostic and therapeutic technologies are the primary factor in the genesis of long waiting times. For generations, the basic medical model was a patient visiting the general practitioner or surgeon, who had a few simple blood tests or X-rays at his or her disposal. Many of those tests could be done right away in the office and, with the exception of an occasional surgical procedure, there was little reason to schedule anything.

Today, the physician's armamentarium includes a wide array of scans, scopes, biopsies, catheterizations, ultrasounds and imaging. Diagnosis is more accurate and surgery less invasive than in the past, but the new procedures are both time and knowledge intensive, requiring ever-increasing levels of scheduling and specialists. Demand sometimes outstrips supply; many people in their 80s and 90s can have surgery today that would have never been contemplated 20 years ago. So when delivery is inefficient for whatever reason, patients face the metaphoric equivalent of a bad afternoon at Disneyland--45 minutes of waiting for two minutes of ride.

The aforementioned long pharmacy lines and delays in specialty care at Stroger are a case in point of inefficient delivery. Services are understaffed but the delays are primarily the result of a system that is overcentralized, i.e., too many people being directed into too few provider points. Imagine the Sears Tower with a single functioning elevator. It doesn't matter how fast it can travel, people will still wait a long time for an elevator.

British statesman Winston Churchill once said, "The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries." While socialized medical care has made waiting in line a more egalitarian exercise in other countries, in America waiting remains the province of the indigent. If time is money, the conclusion to draw from observing hospitals and clinics is that like everything else that belongs to the poor, their time has less value. In health-care settings, as elsewhere, waiting in line becomes their major charge in life.

Long waits for medical care do more than just harm patients. They rob people of their dignity. Restoring people to good health and maintaining their health is sometimes beyond the control of medicine. But to restore and maintain people's dignity is an essential goal of medical care and remains a valid test of any health-care system. No one should be forced to endure unreasonable waits to see the doctor, get tests or receive medications. One way we as doctors, and as a society, let people know we actually care about them is to make sure they aren't forced to.

----------

Cory Franklin is a physician at Stroger Hospital.



Recent Headlines

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle proposes raising Forest Preserves budget next year with rainy day funds
Wednesday, October 21, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Delays leave suburban Cook voters wondering if their ballots will count
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Illinois orders tighter restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings in several suburban counties as coronavirus positivity rates rise
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Why some Cook County voters are still waiting for mail-in ballots
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Daily Herald

Editorial: Impact of COVID-19 emphasizes role of ACA in Cook County budgeting
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Daily Herald

Cook County tosses ‘lifeline’ to needy residents, opening housing voucher waiting list for first time since 2001
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

'COVID fatigue' blamed for second surge in coronavirus cases; Chicago health experts warn people not to let their guard down
Monday, October 19, 2020
WLS ABC 7 Eyewitness News

Coronavirus in Illinois updates: COVID-19 cases on the rise in long-term care facilities; applications open for relief fund for restaurant workers
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Tribune

For first time in nearly 20 years, Cook County opens suburban housing voucher waitlist. At least 10K people already applied.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: Preckwinkle balances the county’s COVID budget. Next up, Lightfoot.
Monday, October 19, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Gov. J.B. Pritzker blames President Trump and his allies for coronavirus spike in Illinois
Sunday, October 18, 2020
Chicago Tribune

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle outlines $6.9 billion budget plan: ‘This pandemic has dealt Cook County and its residents a catastrophic blow’
Friday, October 16, 2020
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle touts restorative justice in budget that slashes court, jail funding: ‘We cannot police our way out’
Friday, October 16, 2020
The Daily Line

‘We Are In a New Wave of COVID-19’: Pritzker
Friday, October 16, 2020
WTTW News

Everything You Need To Know About Voting Drop Boxes In Illinois
Friday, October 16, 2020
WBEZ News

Pritzker Extends Ban on Evictions for 7th Month
Friday, October 16, 2020
WTTW News

Pritzker to extend eviction moratorium another 30 days: ‘Nothing really has changed’
Friday, October 16, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Record-high Illinois COVID-19 caseload, hospitalizations and positive test rate rising: ‘We are in a new wave
Friday, October 16, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

A Cook County budget built to ‘weather the storm’ — but the rain had better be moving on
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

Layoffs, cutting vacant jobs all part of Preckwinkle’s $6.9 billion budget plan to ride out COVID-19 storm
Thursday, October 15, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP