By E’Louise Ondash, RN
Someone asked me recently how I would change health care in this country if I could wave a magic wand and make it happen. I had to think a bit, but it didn’t take me long to come up with a list. Admittedly, some of these ideas would face a lot of bureaucracy, red tape and resistance, but remember -- I have a magic wand.
Here is my wish list:
1. Make all the tobacco products in the world disappear. Using tobacco products harms every organ in the body and those who are nearby. Cigarettes and other tobacco products cause more than 480,000 deaths a year in the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And it isn’t just the deaths that cost us financially and emotionally. Smokers generally suffer a long time with costly chronic problems; if all that was avoided, the money could be spent on preventive health education and prenatal care.
2. Make sodas, energy drinks and all those nothing-but-sugar beverages that we over-consume disappear, too. They contribute greatly to this country’s obesity problem, which brings its own set of costly illnesses.
3. Eliminate for-profit health insurance companies. Why should 20 cents of every premium dollar go to CEOs and stockholders when that money could and should be used for patient care, preventive care and new technologies? These funds could better the lives of everyone, especially the chronically ill. 4. Build and create more sidewalks, walking trails, bike lanes and walkable communities.
5. Teach everyone how to integrate regular exercise into their lives, including giving physical education a higher priority in schools. Put more emphasis on individual sports and less on team sports, and teach the joy of walking. Begin these lessons in kindergarten or even sooner.
6. Make dental care a normal part of health care coverage. Our dental health is connected to other body systems and an important component in our overall health.
7. Make all medical records internet-based (and super-secure, of course) so they are easily accessible by patients and physicians. This would go a long way to cutting confusion and costly duplication.
8. Assign all those with chronic and complicated health problems to a health care team – one consisting of doctors, nurses, social workers and all those paramedical professionals that it takes to serve and care for those with long-term illnesses.
9. Teach more physicians and nurses about palliative care and make it more available than it is now.
10. Provide financial help to nurses who want to pursue bachelor degrees and beyond.
11. Pay nurse-educators well to teach the new crop of degree-bound nurses.
12. Charge a fair price for tests, procedures, surgery, medications and medical equipment, disclose those prices and charge everyone the same.
That’s my list. What would you change about health care in this country?
Tell us about it.