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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 3/6/09

Surgeon General pick: President Obama's sneeze at summit was foreboding

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Message Mary MacElveen
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With Dr. Sanjay Gupta taking himself out of the confirmation process to become the next Surgeon General to serve in the Obama administration for personal reasons, I am heartened to see him come to this realization.  We do not need an on-air medical journalist, but an expert in communicable diseases and their affect on a populous that is not protected.


With health care being the pivotal issue being discussed at the health-care-summit presently being held at the White House and where our president sneezed, he said, “See what happens when you do not get enough sleep?” While that helped to relieve the seriousness of this issue through laughs, something within that act was foreboding.


If we do not have a ‘Health-care-in-chief’ namely a Surgeon General who truly knows what communicable diseases can do and how they can be spread due to a lack of health insurance; one must wonder how many outbreaks will we suffer as a nation?  I feel that by denying citizens a right to full health care is as dangerous to our country as any terrorist attack.  These future attacks will come in the form of bacterial or viral germs and not airplanes.  When it comes to actual terrorism, well that is a subject of another piece, but not this one.


Before mass-transportation, namely airplanes, these communicable diseases were mainly contained to localized areas around the planet.  This is not the case anymore.  Air travel, rail travel and through the use of personal automobiles it can spread any disease to the far reaches of this planet as well as our country.  Diseases which were once contained have the ability to spread like wildfire.  They may have the propensity to overload an already overloaded health care system.


When you have entire families unable to afford health insurance, will diseases of the past resurface such as measles, mumps and rubella when parents cannot afford to vaccinate their children?  Yes, I have read the debates concerning whether or not to vaccinate one’s children and as a parent, I did.  My children have not suffered any consequences due to my informed judgment coming from my Pediatrician.


Often, pneumonia can feel like the flu, but without a doctor and the support staff such as radiologists to confirm it, those without health insurance may not seek medical care and take matters into their own hands.  I have had pneumonia and the symptoms are horrendous.  You are left weak and debilitated where your body temperature can reach deadly levels.  I was misdiagnosed by an acute care facility.  It was only when I visited my ER did I find out the true diagnosis.  My temperature was 105 degrees Fahrenheit and where my pulse-ox was dangerously low.  I was triaged and admitted immediately. 


Pneumonia is a communicable disease, but if diagnosed properly by a doctor who will then prescribe the correct medications, it is curable.  Left undiagnosed and not treated, people do die from this disease.  I was one of the fortunate ones and thank my lucky stars for having health insurance.


We have all heard of the Avian Flu, SARS and malaria: One must wonder how these infectious diseases will play out on a population that has a rising rate of uninsured or under-insured.  If infected with one of these deadly diseases and without health insurance, how many patients will be turned away from treatment? This is where we need a Surgeon General who is an expert on diseases such as this and can look for any pattern that would constitute an outbreak.  This is what waits for us, unless we take this issue of health care reform seriously.


While President Barack Obama is calling upon our legislators to move on this where the influx of federal tax dollars presently stands at a little over $600 billion dollars: Imagine the devastation any outbreak can cause monetarily on our country should health care reform not pass.  I hate to bring it down to dollars and cents, but that is pretty much how those who would oppose decide on the health and safety of this nation.


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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog I have been published by, and I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)
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