Monday, July 16, 2007

County hospitals

I know from experience that Texas has county hospitals pretty much everywhere which have a mandate to provide emergency treatment to anyone who walks in. It's health care of the last resort but it's health care for everyone.

USA Today has a story about the crowded Emergency Room at the public hospital in Harris County (Houston).

Although I lived in Houston for a while, and didn't have health insurance when I was living there, I don't think I've ever been to that emergency room.

Things aren't as crowded in the more rural counties in Texas. And if you're looking for a heart transplant you probably want to go to Houston, but for other medical treatment you'll probably get pretty good treatment at the smaller hospitals.

I did go to the emergency room in Victoria County (Victoria, Texas is right in the middle of a triangle formed by Houston, San Antonio, Corpus Christi) once. I was having some severe stomach pains. I'd been having some sharp pains for a while but I didn't have insurance, didn't have a regular doctor, and the pains never lasted long, so I did the American thing and ignored the pains. That is until they got so severe I was doubled over so bad I could barely walk and couldn't drive and the pain didn't go away.

My girlfriend drove me to the hospital. They sent me for xrays. They had me laying in a gurney and after a while some surgeon came up to me with a clipboard and said, "we don't see anything on the x-rays". "We need to cut you open and look arouhd, but first you have to sign this release".

I was hurting, not really thinking very clearly. "What if I don't sign it?"

He said, "We'll roll you into that corner right over there and leave you there until you're dead".

I signed it.

They ended up removing a gall bladder, whatever the hell that is.

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