Christmas has many meanings for me.
- Writing a thank you note in Spanish to a 89 year old cubana for the kinds gifts she gave me in honor of Cuban Doctor’s Day (Dec 3rd) and connecting her with the Catholic church near my childhood home
- Volunteering for hospital call so my colleagues who celebrate the holiday can be with their families, just as they cover for me on my religious holidays.
- Seeing a ten year old get presents from the hospital volunteers because an asthma attack made him miss Christmas at his grandparents’ house.
- My children going out for donuts with my father
- Watching my father learn to use an iPad Mini. I admire a man who earned his engineering degree with a slide rule, owned the first Hewlett Packard electric calculator ($450 in 1970), taught himself to use an IBM XT 30 years ago, and now burns his own CD’s.
- Taking our annual Christmas lights tour. Who doesn’t like an inflatable Santa outhouse?
- Enjoying Chinese food and a movie with my family
- Remembering the less fortunate among us. This year we’ll give to organizations that provide health care for homeless and help resettle refugees in our city. It is not enough to treat them in the hospital; we must do more to help.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
In the words of Kinky Friedman: “May the God of your choice bless you.”
I have never owned a gun but have known plenty of gun owners over the years. They would come in every November just before Thanksgiving to for a check up prior to the start of deer season. They were sanitation workers, business owners, and school principals. I have talked to the parent whose child who killed a friend while playing with his father’s shotgun. Nothing could erase the pain and sorrow he felt. I have listened to depressed patients talk about their gun collections and helped family members get the weapons out of the house. I have talked to the sheriff’s deputy who trained his fellow law enforcement officers how to treat mentally ill suspects without provoking dangerous situations.
Mental illness can drive people to commit seemingly irrational acts. Ask the police to repeatedly arrest mentally ill persons who endanger themselves or others. I bet the officers would prefer to treat their illnesses correctly rather than incarcerate them. My city even established a mental health court to handle these cases better by promoting treatment over reflexive punishment.
We live in a more civil society now than when the 2nd Amendment was passed. Military grade weapons are not needed for hunting game. I fail to understand why legally driving a car is more arduous than purchasing a gun.
Banning ownership of firearms is not the answer. We need to properly treat mental illness and enact gun laws that distinguish law abiding gun owners from those who should not own deadly weapons.
It’s about 2 things: mental health and guns.
I’d like to issue a challenge to those opposed to expanding health insurance coverage and access to health care.
Spend a weekend with me at the inner city hospital where I work.
Recently we saw:
- 20 year old with newly diagnosed Stage 4 cancer who has not seen a doctor in years and has no insurance to pay for treatment of a curable cancer
- 38 year old with heart failure from fluid around the heart treated at an overwhelmed safety net clinic.
- 33 year old with blood pressure twice normal who has been out of medicine for 7 months. Yes, you really can blow a gasket — that’s what a stroke is.
- 23 year old with diabetes who has been out of medicine for 4 years. When your hemoglobin A1C (average blood sugar) is higher than your shoe size, you have a serious problem
Week in and week out, we treat patients without health insurance and access to good primary care doctors who are admitted for completely treatable and largely preventable diseases. Caring for these patients in a primary care doctor’s office lowers cost by preventing unnecessary emergency room visits and hospital admissions. The commercial insurers get this — that is why they are pursing the ACO model and payment schemes that reward doctors, clinics, and hospitals that offer better quality health care. they do this because it saves money.
All patients need timely primary care to treat these illnesses to prevent unneeded ER visits and hospital admissions.