Friday, October 2, 2015

"The Best Hospital Care Money Can Buy"

A recognizable distinction, generally unmentioned because it is politically incorrect, was exposed when the late, great comedy writer Jerry Belson courageously opined:

“There ought to be two Writers Guilds – the Writers Guild, and the Good Writers Guild.”

Not all writers are equally gifted.  Was what he was saying.  (Implying – correctly – that he – and ostensibly his colleagues – deserved a separate – and loftier – categorization.)

Deservedly or undeservedly, people are always looking for a distinction. 

There’s “Them.” 

And then there’s ME.

If you are in the “profit” business – and I am unaware of any businesses that aren’t, except for those “not-for-profit” arrangements, which I have never been able to understand – you will exploit that possibly innate desire for distinction, and successfully cash in on it.

Even in a hospital. 

It was therefore with little surprise, therefore – and only minimal irritation; I am human after all – that I discovered the elegant brochure provided by Saint John’s (where I recently spent seven memorable days), apprising recent arrivals to their Emergency Room waiting area of an upgraded hospital care program.

Say hello to the VIP Caritas Suites, situated on the edifice’s top floor, segregated from the bothersome moaning riff-raff and the questionable competence of the hospital staff below.

(I have been told that “Caritas” connotes “expensive” in Spanish.  I guess they were too embarrassed to announce their distinguishing service program in English.)

The brochure’s calligraphized lettering trumpets the VIP Caritas Suites’ (at an additional cost of five hundred dollars per day) declared “Mission Statement”:

privacy  quality  comfort

the word “quality” deliberately highlighted, leading concerned regular hospital patients to wonder,

“What the heck am I getting?”

I cannot answer that.  I do know that you – which includes me – are not getting this:

(Quoting directly from the brochure)

“The VIP Carnitas Suites at Saint John’s Health Center are a premier patient care unit that offer expert, innovative medical care combined with highly qualified, compassionate nursing care.”      

“So what are they saying there?  They get expert, innovative medical care combined with qualified compassionate nursing care and we get substandard, behind-the-times treatment combined with poorly trained nurses who hate their jobs and despise the patients?”

“Additionally, all patients have access to the world renowned physicians for which Saint John’s is known.”

“While we get, ‘What country are you from, again?’”

The following is a sampling of the “Amenities” (selected for comedic purposes, but none of them are made up.)  There are the basics, of course – Private unit.  Larger rooms.  Concierge style service.  But, in addition, the VIP Caritas Suites offer:

Beautiful views

(My non-VIP Caritas Suites view was the hospital’s parking area.)

Fine linen

(As opposed my linen, which was visibly threadbare and detectably scratchy.)

Monogrammed towels and robes

(I was unclear whether the monogrammed initials were the patient’s or the hospital’s.)

Fine soaps and skin care products

(I – with apologies – stunk for an entire week.)

Personal in-room refrigerator

(Since I could barely get out of bed, that particular “amenity” was of minimal importance.  Who wants to pay extra to look at a refrigerator?)

Daily newspaper

(So if you desired you can read the obituaries of patients who succumbed on the less fortunate floors beneath you.  And think, “There but for the grace of Cash go I.”)  (Was that too rough?  Keep in mind I am still suffering.)

I understand.  “You pay more; you get more.”  It’s America – that’s the way it works.  (Ditto in, like, Saudi Arabia.  I don’t know, is that place a democracy?)

But come on.  You are seriously ill.  You want the finest doctors and the most capable nurses.  (They did not mention it in the brochure, but I bet their nurses are also prettier.  Even the guys.)

I will concede the

Large screen LCD TVs with Video-on-Demand

and the

Clock radio with iPod dock (whatever that is.)

But when critical health issues are concerned, do we not all deserve an equal shot at comparable treatment?

(The assumption here is that you odds are better if you pay more.  Which you would assume would be the case.  Though not always, I imagine.  I wonder how much you’d have to pay for “Guaranteed Survival”?)


My less than “renowned” physician relievedly pulled me through.  But what was he thinking, it occurred to me?

“If I fix this guy, maybe they’ll move me upstairs”?

Okay, it’s an easy target.  But when you are still on the mend,

You consider the targets within reach.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

I'm afraid medical social justice is one of the things you left behind when you emigrated from Canada.


JED said...

I could forget about the big screen TV, the alarm clock and the newspaper (after all, I want to feel better, not worse when I'm staying in the hospital) but the quality of the care being better is troublesome. I guess this could be anywhere from better doctors to more nurses on the floor. That doesn't seem right but then I look at sports events and one of the players hurts themselves and they are whisked away to see their private doctor a get a quick X-ray or MRI where we have to wait for ours.

It even affects other things. Our old dog, in his last years, was able to get a shot to help his joints function better because a drug originally developed for horses was finally approved for use in dogs. I suppose the horses got it first because there is big money in horse racing or horse showing or farm work. When the horses go to the vet, they probably get "Fine soaps and skin care products" and maybe even "Fine linen", too.

maxk1947 said...

"Caritas" actually means Christian love and charity. If you are on the
VIP Caritas level, the CEO of the hospital washes your feet every morning.

Enric Ortuno said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enric Ortuno said...

Both of you are right, "caritas" means "altruistic love" in Latin (one of the three virtues in Christianity), and the root of the word has derived into modern Spanish as "caro": something of great value = expensive.

There is something disturbingly funny in there: "VIP Caritas level, the best altrusitic love money can buy"...

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. Kims IVF center Hyderabad