Dr Louis M. Profeta is an emergency physician practicing in Indianapolis. He is one of LinkedIn's Top Voices and the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Patient in Room Nine Says He's God. Dr Louis holds a medical degree from the Indiana University Bloomington.
I want to know whose child this is that lies dead in room 32 and will be buried in a pauper’s grave. No ID, no papers, no report of a missing girl, who clearly has spent years on the street—track marks course hard and thick on her forearms, and hair knotted under a mothy, wool cap. Her mom deserves to know.
I recently sat on a healthcare panel at Trinity University as part of the Centene REACH symposium. It’s always eye-opening to hear clinicians and non-clinicians passionately debate as to what is wrong with health care. Pretty much it was what you would expect. Everybody pointing at everybody else and a few misguided solutions. Seems like there is a lot of this going on lately. I walked away feeling a bit dejected because it is clear that in a room full of executives and health care policy makers in matching blue blazers, red ties, and sensible pantsuits, there is a huge dearth of understanding when it comes to human behavior, and it is human behavior that drives health care costs. Perhaps that’s what happens when the majority of people in charge don’t actually sit in ERs, or work in clinics, or provide mental health counselling to homeless schizophrenics, or have to tell someone they have cancer and that they should get their things in order. You can’t develop that worldview by just sitting in a committee.
I keep a couple leather-bound albums in my office. They hold thank-you letters from patients and their families. A kind of melancholy reminder of days gone past, when writing a letter meant something, when it required a bit of effort, postage, a trip to the mailbox, and not just a “send” button. I guess I hope one day my kids will flip through them after I’m gone. Maybe think to themselves, “Dad made a difference.”
Just around the time Julian Edelman was being handed the MVP trophy, I finished the book, tossed it on the coffee table and took a long swig of my beer. I get sent a lot of books and articles by other physician writers asking for my opinion. It’s kind of an honor, but I often find myself almost always wanting more out of what I’m asked to read. I want to be moved, entertained and captivated. I don’t want to just read about another diet or political position, or some new movement in health care. I want to feel something.