News, culture, and politics. Not necessarily in that order.

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Good Morning, Day 14

July 31st, 2007 · No Comments · Activism, Culture, Essays, HCC-DDT, Health, Healthcare Crisis, Human Rights, Media, News, Politics, The Economy, Stupid

So I’ve been slammed with work for the last week or so, and I haven’t had a chance to update this count in a full seven days.

During that time, about 350 more Americans have died because they couldn’t afford health care.

That brings the total count to approximately 700 people who have died just since I started keeping track on July 18th.

But I realize that all these numbers I’m tossing around might seem kind of abstract. Almost hypothetical.

I mean, who are these U.S. citizens who are dying every day because our health care system is based on profit instead of, you know, health?

Well, let’s meet one of them. This is from an essay at Newsday.com by an attorney named Jeanne D’Esposito. I found it when I was searching for a source for the statistic that this series is based on. She writes:

Such was the case of my sister, Mary Mascioli, who became one of the more than 18,000 Americans who die each year because they don’t have insurance.

She was only 44 and a widow caring for her disabled son. Last year she went to a local emergency room complaining of shortness of breath and severe swelling in her legs. For the next five weeks, as she lay in a hospital bed too sick to fight for herself, my family and I desperately fought to get her adequate medical care. But her lack of insurance was a wall that we ran into everywhere we turned.

But wait — don’t hospitals have to provide treatment to people in need?

Although laws prohibit hospitals from denying treatment to those without insurance, there’s a limit to what a facility must provide, and most won’t make any effort beyond that.

In my sister’s case, that meant urgently needed treatment would often be delayed for several days. It took more than four days to get her on dialysis after her kidneys failed. By then she was barely conscious.

When her toes turned black from lack of blood supply, the vascular surgeon didn’t come for five days, and, by then, the toes required amputation. Some doctors refused to treat her at all.

We begged hospital personnel to call in other doctors, but, as an uninsured patient, Mary had to wait for the doctors assigned to her. And even after her doctors admitted they could not diagnose what was wrong, administrators refused their repeated requests to have her transferred to an affiliated tertiary care hospital that was better equipped to diagnose and care for such a medically complicated patient.

The transfer was finally approved after her condition became critical, but it was too late. She died two days later.

So. That’s what happened, here in the United States, over the last week.

About 700 times.



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