A Persprective on the Health Care Reform Issue

I'm going to be weighing in with my own thoughts on this subject next. Meanwhile, I want to share this article written by my brother-in-law, Kevin. Interstingly enough, what he wrote could also be used to point a finger at the meat producing/processing systems in this country. I guarantee you that Kevin, and my sister, and their kids are now eating family farm raised beef, or no beef at all:

This coming week will be one year since we almost lost our daughter, Milla, to E. Coli.

June 26th 2008 I purchased ground beef from Kroger. July 10th 2008 we found out that there was a beef recall because of E. Coli on the beef I bought. Of course we had already eaten this beef.

July 12th 2008, Milla woke up sick, fever of 103 and above, and diarrhea. After a couple hours and a half dozen diaper changes we called the pediatrician’s office. I talked to a nurse and told her what the symptoms were. I also told her about the recalled beef. She told me it wasn’t E. Coli but a virus going around.

July 13th 2008, more of the same.

July 14th 2008, more of the same and Milla stops eating and drinking. We called the pediatricians office to make an appointment. I talked to another nurse. I told her all of the symptoms, how long it had been going on and I told her about the beef with E. Coli. Once again I was told it was not E. Coli and just a virus. No appointment made.

July 15th 2008, Milla is really sick. Diarrhea and throwing up. I called the pediatrician’s office again. I told this nurse the exact same thing, including about the E. Coli. She told me the same thing as the other two nurses. I told her I wanted Milla to be seen by a pediatrician today. She said “If you really want to.”
We saw a familiar Pediatrician. Told her everything and yes about the beef. She said no it’s not E. Coli. It’s a virus going around. She did not do even one test and sent us home.

This same pediatrician saw Milla the year before for a fever and a runny nose. She ordered every test there possibly could be. I know this to be true because I have Milla’s medical records. There are three pages of tests from that visit.
(side note: The company I worked for went out of business in January ‘08. Along with losing my job, I lost my health insurance on the family. After a few months of looking for a job without luck, Rebecca and I decided to get Milla a medical card through the state)
Lesson learned. As long as you have medical insurance and not a state medical card you will get decent medical care, and the physician will treat and look at you like a human being.

July 16th 2008, Milla is really sick. She hasn’t had anything to eat or drink in two days. I called again and told the nurse the same things. Got an appointment. Different pediatrician. We told him everything…the same thing. Once again, not E. Coli, but a virus. I asked him when we should start getting concerned about Milla not eating. He said in a condescending tone, “Last Thursday. Come on, do you feel like eating when you sick?” Then he gave Milla a lollipop. She held it to her nose and smelled it. He said, “Oh she’s fine. If she hadn’t done that I’d be worried. So she’s not that dehydrated. She’s fine. Just give her fluids.” We said, “She’s not eating or drinking and when she has tried to drink she has thrown it up.”
“Well, if she throws it up, wait two hours and try again.” he says as he’s walking out of the room.
Visit done…no tests…but at least Milla got a lollipop she wasn’t going to eat.

July 17th 2008, Milla can’t move. She’s not sleeping well. She can’t walk, she is so weak. We called back to the pediatrician’s office. I tell her (the nurse) everything we’ve been going through…and the E. Coli. I told her I wanted a straight answer about when we should be getting concerned about Milla not eating. Because everyone has told us not to be concerned because she just doesn’t feel well. She told me if Milla didn’t eat breakfast in the morning to call back.

That morning didn’t happen like that. We took Milla to the ER at St. Joseph East that evening. Where Dr. Anderson took us seriously and listened. He started the tests. He came back and told us Milla was severely dehydrated and she had kidney failure as a result of HUS (Hemolytic-uremic syndrome), a strand of E. Coli. He transferred Milla to UK Hospital. Milla went right to PICU (pediatric intensive care unit). Within minutes of Rebecca and I arriving at the hospital a DR. comes out to talk to us. We were informed that Milla would not have lived through the night. Her kidneys were not the only organs failing. Her liver, spleen and pancreas were all starting to shut down. She went into surgery the next morning to have a catheter put in for kidney dialysis. She wasn’t conscious for several days. When she woke up they had to strap her arms down so she wouldn’t yank the IV’s out of her. Seeing my 19 month old daughter lying there with all of this happening…I was angry. How could this happen? Letting a baby suffer because her parents had the damn poor man’s insurance.

Milla was on dialysis for 8 days and was recovering nicely. She was finally moved from picu to a regular room at 10 days. August 1st we got to take her home.

Milla is doing great. The only way you know she was ever sick are from the scars on her belly, from the surgery and the scar on her neck, where she had an IV put in.

I would like to thank everyone who helped us through last summer.

Also, thanks to Dr. Anderson at St. Joseph East
Thanks to UK hospital, Dr. Bernard and Dr. Chisti and all the nurses in picu, Ashley, Tara and many more. Thank you!

For more information on E. Coli http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/dfbmd/disease_listing/stec_gi.html
For more information on HUS http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000510.htm

Support Obama on the Healthcare OVERHAUL!


Fr. John McCuen said…
Glory to God that Milla was finally examined by a physician who bothered to run a test! What happened prior to that is shocking. If I were an attorney, I'd be offering my services, because it sounds as if a malpractice claim could certainly be made against those who dismissed Milla's condition as "just a virus that's going around." Unfathomable. I wish I was as sanguine about the Obama Administration's health care reform proposals as the last line of your blog suggests. I can easily see a scenario in which everyone is reduced to the state Milla encountered when a governmental bureaucracy is looking out for "our" interests...
Alana said…
Very true. It can and is being done much better in many European countries, such as Switzerland. But I wonder if that can be accomplished here in our individualistic society with our overly beaurocratic government. I don't know. And I am nervous about the upcoming possibilities. I'm also nervous about the status quo in health care. I'll explain in my next post.
Veiled Glory said…
Appalling! When I had "just a virus", got dehydrated is less than 24 hrs of similar symptoms. Jeff hauled me into the ER where they promptly rehydrated me, stopped the vomiting, and treated the fever. The tending physician looked at us gravely and said, "If you had waited another 12 hours, she might have been beyond help." And I am a grown woman. God have mercy.
elizabeth said…
Wow. Glad the story ended positively.

I really like living in Canada because of socialized medicine. However, it is not perfect. Getting to see a specialist (even if one has bad symtoms of something) can take months. It is common knowledge here that if someone wants to see a specialist right away, unless they are really privledged in some way, if they can, they go to the States.

Our health system is super taxed, there are not enough doctors (a lot of them went to the States I think), it is really hard to get a family doctor, and so on. That said it is wonderful to be able to go to the hospital or doctor and have tests and I do not have to pay for them. Of course I think our taxes are higher here...

So nothing is perfect on either side of the coin. But I hear the need for reform for sure... it is not an easy thing but a worthy one...
Erica said…
Thank goodness that Milla was saved and that her parents never gave up on advocating for her. What a terrible experience.
Has said…
I am so blessed to live in Australia, where everyone can get healthcare when they need it. Sure, sometimes we have to wait months for things that are not urgent, and it's not a completely perfect system, but everyone I know has been quite well-served by it. Milla's story just wouldn't happen here.
margi said…
I misread you at the start and read it to the very end thinking she had died. She is so beautiful. Such beautiful eyes. Like the posters from Canada and Australia I am very grateful for our NHS. It isn't perfect but it's a lot better than what Kevin described. I had breast cancer last year and I was sent for a biopsy because a doctor suspected something, there was no lump and she was acting on experience and instinct AND there was no question of $$$. If there had been I guess I would be wandering around with a time-bomb inside me.
Philippa said…
Sorry to disagree with the Canadian posters. I am watching someone who was diagnosed with stomach cancer back in November and has yet to receive any treatment for it to-date. He is slowly dying and nothing is being done to help him. Nothing.

My sister has received the same type of treatment here in the States while being on "poor man's insurance."

It is not only the insurance industry that needs overhauling. The doctor's and nurse's attitudes need overhauling as well.

This type of treatment just infuriates me beyond words.

Thank God little Milla is okay. and for what it is worth, I'd be sending print out of Milla's health treatment to those idiots who did nothing, as well as finding a new pediatrician.

That just makes me so angry that she had to almost die to get some attention. Not to mention the fact that she wouldn't have been hospitalized for so long if she had been treated right away. That obviously would have saved more money in the long run.
mamajuliana said…
We have the 'poor man's insurance and we have a daughter with special needs.

That said, I don't think that an insurance 'overhaul' plan would work. I too agree that it is the attitude of the medical community. I think that 'government' insurance would just make things worse. Doctors would still have the attitude and be overworked and 'underpaid'(in a government plan as opposed to charging high bills to private insurance companies.)

It has to go way back to Doctor training and career motivation...

We have had Doctor's treat us well and take us in with our first call and they knew we had the medical card-we have also had doctors who just kept putting us off until a fourth or fifth call was made in hysterics to the office-same insurance!
Anonymous said…
I don't know where your brother lives or who his pediatricians are, but I would not have waited as long as he did to take her to the ER- I live in a large metro area with a world class children's hospital and that is where I would take a child so sick. Yes, the pediatricians were in error, but a child as sick as is described can't wait. Sorry she had to go through the ordeal and glad she survived.
Joi said…
AS I was reading this, I wanted to strangle the staff at the pediatricians office. Given the facts, Milla should have been seen immediately. There should never ever be a price on a child's life. or anyone's for that matter. Insurance or not, everyone deserves decent health care.
Thank you for sharing.
maria said…
Makes me want to know which peds practice this is, so they can be avoided!!!

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