Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Is Ebola the Cure?

Ebola is shouting at us, but is anyone listening?

This morning I read what perhaps makes the most sense of any of the volumes of material that have come out in the media over the past two weeks since Ebola hit our shores.

I'd like to elaborate on some of the points the author makes and add my own.

Ebola might actually be the cure, if we would just pay attention and listen to what it is telling us about how we run things in this country.

I see Ebola as an opportunity to get things back on track. Will we have the vision and leadership to do this?The way we’ve been operating for so long, my fear is, we do, but we’ve forgotten where to find it. We need to put our ears to the ground to listen.

First, we have gross misallocation of resources in this country. The huge portion of our GDP that we spend on health care is largely wasted, we’re not getting our money’s worth.

We don’t value preventative care or good health.

We have media looking to make a buck off mass hysteria. They stir the pot to the point where it bubbles over to one side or the other, parroting stupidity and spewing hate. Each side is convinced the other side has a conspiracy to destroy those with whom they disagree. Look at the trolls who follow any online article.

We have greedy, profit-centered institutions guide our health care system, looking only to make a buck off our sickness, with lip service to something called wellness.

Companies manufacture more new products every day to make us sicker, from foods to chemicals to sedentary entertainment gadgets.

Specialty-trained health care providers looking to make a buck off the few patients they hang onto when avoiding joining the big guns give advice to patients they don’t really have the expertise to provide, and the patients themselves are not health literate or able to critically think enough to know the difference.

Health care itself is dysfunctional in that there is no communication between the levels of hierarchy that have been created. Nurses, who spend the most time with patients, know the most about the patient. Physicians know how to treat the patient, but do they listen the nurses? Administrators are concerned only with protecting the bottom line of their own little turf, don’t listen to the physicians, and friction develops between the layers.

Meanwhile, the money gets funneled to duplication of efforts and waste. No one at the top of the heap listens to the muffled cries of those at the bottom, those who see reality on the ground.

We have a political system that has completely failed us through inaction and servitude only to the wealthiest entities who feed it. Only self-interest and greed guide our career politicians. There is no coordinated effort in our government to look out for the best interest of the people. Those who seek election think it’s optional to take facts and scientific evidence seriously. If it interferes with profit, who needs it?

Not only have we failed to fund public health, we’ve been failing to fund education, transportation, and other public resources. Look for more crises in these sectors in the near future.

We’ve forgotten how to communicate with respect, how to listen, how to think critically. All of the issues that Ebola has brought into sharp focus should be seen, but we don’t have any leaders who are seeing.

We’re going to face more crises of this magnitude the longer we allow our country to operate in this dysfunction. We need true leadership, an end to the greedy, profit-obsessed way of operating, and a re-focus on the needs of our greatest assets: people.

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