A recent story in the Chicago Tribune caught our attention, and is worth repeating:
George Flores is a 39-year-old paraplegic harp technician from Chicago. He remains one of only a dozen or so harp technicians in America. Flores crashed his motorcycle on September 12, 2004 on Highway 55 in the suburbs of Chicago. The crash left him mangled and hidden in the tall grass on the side of the highway overnight. Two men in a truck looking for scrap metal found him the next morning in the grass near the wreckage of his motorcycle.
The crash left Flores with a severe spinal cord injury, broken ribs, a punctured lung, and internal and external bleeding and bruises. The spinal cord injury left Flores in a paraplegic condition. Now, four surgeries and countless doctor visits later, Flores’ experiences have led him to become an outspoken critic of the flaws of the U.S. health care system.
Flores speaks of the health care system’s tendency toward institutionalization instead of rehabilitation and broader research. He also speaks of the problems he witnessed in the American health care system in terms of doctors receiving more profit the more procedures they conduct. Flores argues that patients suffer when it is more profitable for a doctor to have ill rather than healthy patients.
As a paraplegic with a severe spinal cord injury, Flores still has achieved a great measure of success. He uses a stand-up wheelchair that allows him to stand in front of and work on harps. While his spinal cord injury did not take away his life, Flores still has his doubts about whether or not he received the best possible care he could have.
Flores raises questions about how much economics, insurance, and legal pressures influence the actions and decisions of doctors, hospitals, and medical staff, especially concerning spinal cord injuries. He wonders if he had been a wealthy white man whether or not the doctors would have treated him immediately with steroids to slow down his spinal cord injury.
While Flores remains grateful for the lifesaving care he received, he remains critical of the current structure and paradigm of health care in the United States. He is pushing for these and other fundamental changes in the health care system in America.
(pic from flickr.com/photos/quinnanya)