Advocates Wanted

May 7, 2007 at 1:22 am (Michael's Posts)

I hope to never be at a party as sad as the one I attended at Cook County a couple weeks ago. The medicine Division Head was there as was the director of the clinic I work in. As were most of the doctors who were in clinic that day. As were a few of the doctors and nurses who were being fired.

As I have mentioned before, Cook County (Chicago and a few of its surrounding suburbs) is downsizing its health operations. What this means is the county is over-budget and they’re cutting jobs to bring balance to the fiscal situation. Never before, however, have the doctors who sacrifice more lucrative practices to treat needy patients had their positions in the county in danger. Many doctors and nurses were sent pink slips this spring and many more will recieve sad mail in the fall.

The really awful part about this method of budget-balancing is that it occurs not on the backs of the doctors (it’s hard to be unemployed for a very long time as a doctor. At least as far as I can tell). I’m not worried about these people, at least. They are compassionate, wonderful doctors and will find gainful (and most probably much more lucrative) work elsewhere. The sad part of this story is the people who they serve will continue to see the little bit of assistance they recieve from the county dribble away.

Richard J Daley and his cronies have screwed the poor people in this city over and again and they always get away with it. This is the same attitude that saw the destruction of public housing along with exuses that were was no money in the budget to rebuild. However, there’s money to build an olympic village, apparently (we’re the US bid for the 2016 games) and money to go forward with the beautifucation of downtown (everyone who visits here says that it’s a very beautiful city. Well, it is. The part of it you’ve seen, at least.) They’re doing it again and getting away with it again. How? How can the county government cut services to thousands of people and not have some kind of backlash?

This is an important topic to discuss as the questions of “Global health” hinge greatly on the willingness of governments to help the disenfranchised. Chicago’s government is doing, well, a piss-poor job of standing up for the destitute in its boundaries. Why? Whose job is it to stand up for them if the state won’t? How can we make them change their minds?



  1. Eli said,

    The optimist in me says that people be one day be overcome by love and concern for their fellow human beings. They’ll realize that one person’s well-being is tied up with everyone else’s.

    The cynic in me says we just need to make poverty an election issue, increase the number of voters in poor neighborhoods, get the media interested (as they suddenly are over global warming – I’ve been impressed), etc. If there was one newspaper article on poverty and infant mortality for every 10 articles about the 2008 election and abortion, we may get there. It’s not just the media’s, though; there are other avenues. Politicians will care if the votes are there.

  2. msoule said,

    So who do we go to? Barack? Local governments? Who organizes this kind of thing and makes it an issue? There have been news articles but not enough. There have been protests and all kinds of stuff but it wasn’t enough. The doctors are still fighting (and I’m going to find out what they’ve done and write about that) but it’s not enough.
    I like the idea and the thrust but am skeptical about the commitment of politicians for poor people’s issues. There is doubtless a TON of lip service about this stuff and the poor don’t complain all that much if they don’t get what’s promised. After all, that’s life, right? Maybe that’s a really jaded and inaccurate paraphrase of the attitudes, but it’s based on my experience of my work with poor people at County.

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