Ebola, Racism and Health Insurance

Hazmat team Thomas Duncan Ebola patient apartment 7

This week America got it’s first Ebola patient – a Liberian man in his early forties visiting his son and family members living in Dallas.

We all know the story by now – he left Monrovia without symptoms, flew to Brussels, then on to Washington D.C. and Dallas – Fort Worth. While he may not have felt he was ill when he left his home country I think it is safe to assume that he probably knew he had been in contact with Ebola victims.

He became ill several days after arriving in Texas and went to the emergency room of a Texas Health hospital – Texas Health system is a giant owner of hospitals and rehab facilities in the state. It is clearly a “for profit” organization.

In any case, our patient Thomas Duncan was not admitted – he was given some anti-biotics and sent home. The hospital has stated that the information that he had “recently traveled in Africa” was not transmitted from the triage nurse to the doctors examining Mr. Duncan. Just a tragic human error which exposed many more people to the Ebola virus.

Is that the whole story?

The CDC has been disseminating bulletins to be on the lookout for Ebola to American health care providers for weeks. Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone have been on the evening newscast every night recently.

So in walks a forty something black man to the emergency room complaining of a fever and stomach pains – the flu like conditions preceding full fledged Ebola.

The black man has an accent – anyone with half a brain who has heard a Liberian or Nigerian born and raised person speak English would suspect immediately (a) he might be a foreigner and (b) he was probably originally from Africa.

Our patient did however walk in under his own power.

Did he travel overseas recently? Well the hospital says our patient said he had recently “been in Africa”. The patient’s sister says that he told the hospital he had recently arrived from Liberia.  Our patient has no reason to fudge the truth – he was in the country legally.

The hospital then determines that the patient is not an American citizen and that he has no health insurance. He gets the “take these pills and you’ll be fine” routine reserved for foreigners without health insurance. There is no way in hell someone who walks in under his own power, is capable of walking out the same way, who has no health insurance and might be here illegally is going to get a room in Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. This is a profit making organization.

Leave out the part about Liberia and he is just another flu case.

Our patient goes home and gets much worse. A relative calls the CDC in Atlanta with the story. The CDC and the relative get in touch with the State of Texas Department of Health who immediately contact the hospital. Our patient comes in by ambulance and is immediately admitted. Mea culpas all around. “We’re sorry! We dropped the ball”.

Mr. Duncan was turned away because (a) he was black (b) he was poor (c) he was a foreigner and most importantly (d) he had no health insurance. He could be safely turned away because (a) he was under his own power (b) he still only exhibited flu like symptoms. The only thing that had to be fudged was the piece about Liberia – that turned into “traveling in Africa” and a “missed communication”.

Racist? Classist? Yes I know. I’m being hysterical; except that I know that as a white guy citizen with health insurance who was recently “traveling in Africa” I would have been admitted immediately. I had money. Money talks. Bullshit walks.

Take a look at some of the comments on the linked article – let me know if there is any racism, class distinction, anti-foreigner sentiment involved,

http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2014/10/sister_us_ebola_patient_told_f.html

Mike 3 days ago
Non resident comes to USA to get free care. Now sister wants to blame hospital for not treating him in time. I see a foreign ghetto lottery contestant here.

mudshark 3 days ago
I am curious, he went to the emergency room with flu like symptoms?

Is this guy a US citizen with health insurance that he pays for, or did he just take advantage of free healthcare that he would get if he went to an emergency room?

All illegals do it, why wouldn’t he?

My suspicion is that he is a moocher who is going to take a ride on the free US healthcare system.

mudshark 2 days ago
@JustReading @mudshark

Is he a citizen paying for his own healthcare, or is he on the public dime?

Spfld1958 3 days ago
@mudshark You hit the nail on the head He was looking for free Health Care treatment that he could not get back at home he thought that we had a cure for Ebola.

I guess if you have no money you have no right to live.

P.S. – Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has back pedaled on the reason for Mr. Duncan’s release.  It now says that there was no lack of communication between the triage nurses and the doctors examining him.  The hospital has given no further explanation as of thie posting.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/04/hospital-send-ebola-patient-home_n_5931780.html

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http://thecount.com/2014/10/03/hazmat-team-ebola-patient-apartment-scary-photos/hazmat-team-thomas-duncan-ebola-patient-apartment-7/

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About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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4 Responses to Ebola, Racism and Health Insurance

  1. Well, all I can say is Americans and US health providers better change their attitudes fast about providing adequate health care to poor racial minorities or you guys are going to be in deep trouble. In fact, it’s quite possible ebola may provide the impetus US lawmakers need to ban private health insurance and establish a gree publicly financed health care system for all US residents – like they have in the rest of the industrialized world.

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