Thorns among the Barbs

Thoughts on my journey to heaven

3rd shift philosophy

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I have not written much about this because to some extent I don;t feel I have a solution for the societal problem I have been encountering –  As some of you may know I took on a second job, working several nights a month answering phones for a medical advice line.  I simply field the calls, and filter to the appropriate resource.  Interesting work for someone who likes to study societal trends.   But it is also quite depressing because there are several very significant trends that I am picking up:

  • More than half of the callers are repeat callers who choose to either call the advice phone or use the emergency department as their method of procuring medical care. 
  • More than half of these callers have either public assistance insurance or no insurance.
  • Many of these callers exhibit dangerous behavior that increases their health risk, such as engage in sex with multiple people, or call back about repeat STDs or are trying to source out where to go to get rid of their unwanted and inconvenient pregnancy.
  • This population appear to not work, or seem very uneducated, and at night the sounds in their home are loud pumping stereos, loud tvs, and loud people.  At 3am why are young children up and running around?
  • And then there is the psychiatric clientel that call with every imaginable oddity and exotic dillema.  From alien invasions to full blown anxiety… they all call and generally they call because they have not taken their psych meds or have noone who will listen.
  • And then there is a segment of the population that never does what they are told to do… from non compliant with their diet and medication to ignoring symptoms for weeks if not months before finally wanting to deal with them only after the symptoms have compounded into major health issues. 

Truth is so many of these people are desperate, and desperately exhaserbating to the system.  The advice line does serve a purpose, to reduce the numbers of these people flocking to Emergency Departments, but wow, my bigger question is how did a large segment of our population get to this point.  What broke down in the generational transfer of knowlege and why are so many lower socio economic people following this pattern? 

This said, I look at the staff answering these phone lines , and the medical professionals giving the advice and I am realizing that the callers are the bread and butter of the advice line, but that comes at the cost of exhausting and wearing these medical professionals down. 

So I have begun asking myself how I can play a role in educating these folks.  And the discouragement comes when I realize that few of these risk taking callers are willing to change their ways, or be redirected.  But every once in a while someone listens, and if there is one it is one less on the drain of the exhausted system.

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Written by Barbara Bloom

January 4, 2009 at 1:04 PM

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