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    Monday, June 21, 2004

    Southampton Medicine: This is just wrong:

    The 95-year-old financially ailing Southampton Hospital - the only serious medical emergency center on the South Fork - is offering a plan aimed at wealthy summer visitors whose primary doctors are back in Manhattan and out of reach, presumably along with the hospital's sense of propriety. For $6,000 per family, or $3,800 for individuals, not including doctors' fees, cardholders in the Southampton PLUS plan are entitled to 'priority access' to medical care at the hospital from May 28 to Sept. 26. A brochure about the plan was mailed to several thousand summer homeowners from a mailing list the hospital purchased from a source it declined to identify.

    Southampton Hospital lets you know that it understands what a drag all this messy medical stuff can be when you're on a busy summer weekend, careening from tennis lesson to benefit to cocktail party with nary a moment to waste sitting around a hospital emergency room. Since 'a visit to the emergency department is gut-wrenching enough without the added frustration of filing out multiple forms,' the brochure commiserates, PLUS members are pre-registered, which includes being met at the door of the hospital 'by a member of the hospital's senior staff.' The brochure confides, 'You shouldn't have to wait around where your health is concerned,'' and adds, 'While we can't guarantee you'll be seen first, we'll do everything possible to get you in and out fast.' The plan covers not only family members, but also weekend house guests and 'hired help,' as the brochure so quaintly describes what must be the au pair.

    True illness is egalitarian, and its treatment should be, too.

    UPDATE: A reader wonders what's wrong with this if the hospital isn't providing priority access? I suspect they really are providing priority access for subscribers. They probably wouldn't give a minor illness priority over a critical illness, but they would treat two equally minor illneses differently. The subscribers would get treatment first, regardless of how long non-subscribers may have been waiting before them. Would they do the same with two equally critical illnesses? One would hope not.

    This may not seem like such a big deal, and maybe I still retain too much of my youthful idealism, but access to a physician for an urgent illness should not be predicated on the ability to pay in advance. Illness and death don't discriminate based on the ability to pay, and neither should we.


    posted by Sydney on 6/21/2004 08:44:00 AM 0 comments


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