Shortly after, the person in question gave me liberty to speak openly about what had happened to him and his wife. Turns out that's what he wanted all along.
Last September, our friend Andy and his wife Audra lost their two-year-old daughter, Fianna.
Fianna had a cold. Her conditioned worsened, and she was having trouble breathing. Her parents took her to the emergency room. Kaiser Permanente, the largest health insurer in the United States (net income, $1.3 billion), wouldn't approve treatment. They took their child home, and she died.
Andy wrote the story on a site where people chronicle horror stories about Kaiser Permanente: you can read it here.
I've always thought losing a child is the worst thing that can happen to a person. People survive, and they go on, because that's what people do. They even go on to have happy lives with their surviving family, or to create a new family. But I imagine the loss never goes away. And I can't imagine how much pain they suffer, every day.
I wish there was something I could do for Andy and Audra. Andy asked me to help publicize the story, so there it is.
* * * *
I actually did mention Andy's tragedy, although not by name, earlier on wmtc. About a month after it happened, I posted this.
Just among our little group [Joy of Sox community], one person is losing his wife to cancer because they could not afford adequate treatment and cannot afford to keep her alive any longer. Another lost his child because an HMO did not approve treatment, and sent the family home from the emergency room. Their two-year-old daughter died that night.
And those are just two people who have disclosed their tragedies to us. I can almost guarantee there are others.
Something about Cathy Baskin's story is here. If you haven't seen this video, please watch.
I admire Cathy Baskin, not only for being public with her story, but for relating it to the larger political picture. She's not just saying cancer is a tragedy. She's saying cancer treatment only for the wealthy is a crime, and we need health care for all.
Last we heard, Cathy was doing really well, which was wonderful news. But it doesn't change the larger picture.
Neither the Democrat nor the Republican candidate for US President supports universal, single-payer health insurance. Neither one of them supports removing profit from the health care structure.
* * * *
This was a big week in southwestern Virginia: health care week. Thousands waited for hours, some through the night, for their annual opportunity for health care, brought to them by a charitable organization.
They walk through the gates of the fairgrounds, give their most personal information to complete strangers and are ushered off for a battery of tests and procedures.
An expected 3,000-plus residents of Southwest Virginia and neighboring states are here through today for one reason -- to get basic medical care they couldn't otherwise afford.
A crowd began lining up in the wee hours of Friday morning for a coveted spot inside the fences at the Remote Area Medical clinic. Some would wait days for the free service. Some would never get in.
For the majority though, organizers and doctors said, this would be the only time all year they would get medical treatment of any sort.
Remote Area Medical, based in Knoxville, Tenn., has provided medical care for the poor and uninsured in the United States and around the world since 1985.
Since Friday, volunteer doctors, optometrists, pharmacists and dentists have been helping patients during 14-hour days.
Charles Sizemore, a 68-year old retired machinist from Wise County, got in line Friday about 2 a.m. for a basic physical and to get two fillings replaced.
Sizemore raised four children in the area but never had health insurance until he got Medicare when he retired three years ago.
"I wanted to," he said, leaning against bleachers where patients were being registered as the sun rose over the mountains. "There just wasn't enough money. I had to take care of my family, and I never made more than $10 an hour."
All his children have left the area for better-paying jobs, but he's too old to move, he said playfully.
Turning serious, Sizemore said, "I don't mean to be ungrateful. I'm glad RAM comes out and does this. But it's just damned sad that this is the only time most of the people around here are going to see a doctor. It's a damned shame."
. . .
Teresa Gardner said the RAM event is vitally important.
Gardner is executive director of The Health Wagon, a nonprofit organization that provides health care for the uninsured and underinsured in Southwest Virginia. It is the local organizer for the RAM event.
"The main problem is that these people don't have access to even the most basic health care because they can't afford it," she said. "And those that can afford the insurance, or get it through their companies, can't afford to pay the co-pays or the prescriptions." [The story continues here.]
My brother, an oral surgeon, works with an organization that goes into impoverished areas and performs surgeries that local residents otherwise would not have access to. He's been to Kenya, Guatemala, Ecuador and several other places. He's told us harrowing stories about the conditions under which they work, and heartwrenching stories about the gratefulness of the patients.
I don't see a whole lot of difference between those stories and this one from Virginia.