Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More Outrage Than Usual

Way back in the fall of 1978, The young, future Blog entered his first year of college. And the first assignment in his Communications 101 class, the professor split the students into groups of, (I don't remember,) six? Eight? Nine? Whatever.

                                The project was an exercise known as "The Kidney Machine."

You may know it. It was kind of a college standard.

It went like this...

Twelve kidney patients are candidates for dialysis. But, those machines being scarce, in those days, only five machines are available.

The group was given the list of candidates along with their personal profiles.

For example, one candidates is a 29-year-old family man. Another is an 72-year-old retiree. Another is a single mom of two, another is a convicted felon. And so it went.

Based on those profiles, we were tasked with deciding who got the life prolonging treatment and who didn't.

The purpose of this exercise, I guess, was a tossed salad of ethics, teamwork, logic and problem solving.

Although, as I write this I realize that, at the ripe old age of 18, (years before our frontal lobes finished forming,) we had become the original "death panels."

In hindsight, The Blog realizes that, had he been in a different mindset, he would have realized that the true takeaway was this...

"Invest in dialysis centers."

35 years later, thanks in a big way to the inventor of the Segway and son of a Mad Magazine cartoonist, "kidney machines," aka: dialysis machines, are now smaller than the average vending machine and are mass produced on a large scale. 

Dialysis centers are giving Starbucks stores a run for the real estate.

The PC has counted 15 centers in a 12 mile radius of his home, and more outside of that radius.

In the past six months, DaVita (as far as I can tell, the McDonald's of dialysis centers) have opened not one, but two centers, mere blocks from Casa Blog. (One of them looks to be the size of a Walmart.)

If you know me personally, or have been following the blog for any length of time, you know that The PC has a personal interest in the subject.


The sudden proliferation of dialysis centers make me wonder what is going on in our society that demand has become so high. The rise of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Hep C and the abuse of certain drugs, prescription and otherwise, seem to be involved.

But that is a conspiracy theory for another day...

*End Digression*

So the burning controversy in 1978's college classes is pretty much moot.

Seriously, I should have invested in dialysis centers.

But, getting on to my outrage du jour...

If you haven't figured it out by now, The Blog is a flaming liberal. And, as such, believes that there are some things in this world that should not be "for profit."

Education, national security, utilities like gas, water and electricity, to name a few.

And, healthcare.

Hospitals and clinics, once the nearly exclusive domain of the non-profit world, are being increasingly privatized.

And then, there is the dialysis center.

As you may have noticed, up there in those earlier paragraphs, dialysis is big, no huge, fucking business. And profit is the thing.

Over the last five years, I have learned more about dialysis than I ever wanted to know.

And one thing is for sure...

Dialysis is about blood.

Dialysis cleans the blood when kidneys and livers fail.

Dialysis patients bleed.

Sometimes due to sloppy work by the techs.

Sometimes due to anti-coagulants that keep their blood flowing properly.

Basic hygiene is, well, basic.

Gloves are worn.

Disposable paper sheets cover chairs.

Techs and nurses wear disposable paper coats.

But, all of that disposable paper adds up, cost-wise.


Which brings us to the letter that Mrs. Blog and her fellow patients received this week.

Got that?

No more paper chair covers. Patients will now be responsible for their own, properly washed and bleached, "thank you very much," chair covering sheets.

The letter doesn't mention, but The Blog has it from a reliable source, that the nurses and techs are being ordered to get as many a three days wear from their paper lab coats before disposing of them.


Well, the answer seems obvious to me.

I made the point six and seven sentences above.

The U.S. Renal Care, Corp. is cutting corners, sacrificing the basic hygiene of their patients, and saving a few bucks in the name of the almighty profit.

But, of course, that is not the official, corporate line.

"Why?" I asked, "Is this happening?"

The official answer from the paper pushing, bean counting, corporate suit in charge consisted of one word.


At this point, I called "bullshit."

Unlike so many Americans, The PC has read the Affordable Care Act in it's entirety.

The ACA is about providing affordable health insurance to all Americans.

Nowhere in the ACA is there a clause about denying payment for disposable, hygienic paper products.


The bottom line is this...

U.S. Renal Care, Corp. (and, I imagine, other corporate, for profit, dialysis centers,) have found a way to screw their captive customers, while timing the move to convince the gullible that it is Obama's fault.

Therein lies my outrage.

The letterhead on the letter that Mrs. Blog received has no contact info.


But, it turns out, they do have a web site and a contact page.

The Blog would never suggest that his bloglitts jam the phones of U.S. Renal Care or crash their web site with complaints.

That is up to you.

The Blog is just saying....


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  2. I can't wait for the lawsuits to happen with the first patient who does NOT bring in their "washed and clean" sheet and something is passed and sickens another patient.. Way to think smartly... tripping over dollars to get to pennies once again