To Each Staff Member of this Facility:
As you pick up that chart today and scan that green
Medicaid card, I hope you will remember what I am about to
I spent yesterday with you. I was there with my mother
and father. We didn't know where we were supposed to go or
what we were supposed to do, for we had never needed your
services before. We have never before been labeled charity.
I watched yesterday as my dad became a diagnosis, a
chart, a case number, a charity case labeled "no sponsor"
because he had no health insurance.
I saw a weak man stand in line, waiting for five hours
to be shuffled through a system of impatient office workers,
a burned-out nursing staff and a budget-scarce facility,
being robbed of any dignity and pride he may have had left.
I was amazed at how impersonal your staff was, huffing and
blowing when the patient did not present the correct form,
speaking carelessly of other patients' cases in front of
passersby, of lunch breaks that would be spent away from
this "poor man's hell."
My dad is only a green card, a file number to clutter
your desk on appointment day, a patient who will ask for
directions twice after they've been mechanically given the
first time. But, no, that's not really my dad. That's only
what you see.
What you don't see is a cabinetmaker since the age of
14, a self-employed man who has a wonderful wife, four grown
kids (who visit too much), and five grandchildren (with two
more on the way) - all of whom think their "pop" is the
greatest. This man is everything a daddy should be - strong
and firm, yet tender, rough around the edges, a country boy,
yet respected by prominent business owners.
He's my dad, the man who raised me through thick and
thin, gave me away as a bride, held my children at their
births, stuffed a $20 bill into my hand when times were
tough and comforted me when I cried. Now we are told that
before long cancer will take this man away from us.
You may say these are the words of a grieving daughter
lashing out in helplessness at the prospect of losing a
loved one. I would not disagree. Yet I would urge you not to
discount what I say. Never lose sight of the people behind
your charts. Each chart represents a person - with feelings,
a history, a life - whom you have the power to touch for one
day by your words and actions. Tomorrow it may be your loved
one - your relative or neighbor - who turns into a case
number, a green card, a name to be marked off with a yellow
marker as done for the day.
I pray that you will reward the next person you greet
at your station with a kind word or smile because that
person is someone's dad, husband, wife, mother, son, or
daughter - or simply because he or she is a human being,
created and loved by God, just as you are.