Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trade 60% of the world futures contracts.
   
     
     
     



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

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Neighborhood program helps Cook County residents buy homes
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Judge upholds Cook County firearm, ammunition taxes
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Editorial: E-filing should make Cook County courts more accessible. It doesn't
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County tax incentive could pave way for Wingstop, Dunkin' Donuts on Elgin's Summit Street
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: What happened to the elk?
Friday, August 10, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wells Fargo to offer $15,000 grants to potential Cook County homebuyers
Thursday, August 09, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suit alleges Cook County detainees secretly monitored in bathrooms in holding cells at courthouses
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Half the elk at Busse Woods died last year, and officials arenít sure why
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

A letter from Dr. Jay Shannon regarding gun violence and Stroger Hospital
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

As Evanston adapts to minimum wage hike, nearby towns say they have no plan to join in
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit could blast a $250 million hole in county budget
Monday, August 06, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Pappas: Automatic refunds of $19.5 million going to 53,000 homeowners because of property tax cuts
Monday, August 06, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Thousands of Cook County homeowners to receive property tax refunds
Monday, August 06, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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