This picture is a fairly accurate representation of the emergency room at our local hospital. The picture was posted on the web by the Ohio County Hospital. It was accompanied by these words:
It was the day before Thanksgiving 2013 about 10 o'clock in the morning when this writer found himself waking up on a hospital bed in the emergency room of the Pagosa Springs Mountain Hospital. He cannot recall how he got there except via what his wife Rebekah told him.
The Emergency Department provides emergency care to all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. A physician oversees the Emergency Department twenty-four hours a day, working with a team of highly trained healthcare professionals and a wide range of on-call specialty physicians.
Wednesday is the day that Waste Management comes in the morning to pick up the trash. The last thing Peter did, but was unable to remember, is moving the dumpster to the street. Rebekah, his wife and handmaiden, found him wandering around in the garage looking for the dumpster. She told him that it was already out on the street and coaxed him to come into the house. He finally did. He was like a sleep walker. He was unable to recall who he was or where he was. Rebekah held him in her arms as he cried and cried and said, "I cannot remember anything." Rebekah thought he might have had a stroke and was very concerned. She called the hospital and they told her to bring him to emergency. Rebekah told Peter to get dressed which he did; but he cannot recall doing so. He cannot remember getting into the car or being taken by his wife to the hospital. He cannot recall walking into the hospital, getting undressed or lying down on the hospital bed. He cannot recall getting needles poked into his arm or electrodes attached to his chest for an EKG. But all of a sudden, maybe an hour after arriving at the hospital, he woke up.
Peter was not anxious or afraid when he came to. It was like waking up from a dream that he could not remember. Rebekah was sitting by his side. She had the countenance of an angel. A Holy Presence charged the atmosphere. A great peace enveloped him. It was as if this might very well be a part of God's plan, he thought. It was the second time that such a thing happened. The first time was 44 years earlier when he was 37. The focus of his life radically changed when he awoke in strange and unfamiliar surroundings. He felt safe and loved. He was on a different hospital bed. He was shown what to do with the rest of his life and has been doing it with passion and purpose ever since.
This time, at almost 81, he just looked around, marveling at where he was, wondering how he got there and all the attention he received. Deep within he knew he was in the right place for reasons as yet not disclosed to him. Within a few hours he was able to remember things that preceded "the event." But as yet, he never could remember a single detail about the dumpster or how he got to the hospital.
The doctor was unable to diagnose the root cause of the problem with the exception of possibly high blood pressure. Putting a spiritual significance to "the event" did not enter her mind. An EKG, an ultra sound of his heart, an MRI of his brain and lots of blood tests provided no other clues. The best the doctor could come up with for a diagnosis was to call the temporary loss of memory "an event" or "an altered state of consciousness." At Peter's request, the doctor reluctantly discharged him six hours after being admitted. He was given three prescriptions - one to lower his blood pressure, one for his thyroid glands, and the third one for magnesium.
Peter had been feeling just fine until the other day when he learned he was buried under a mountain of debt. His bill was $7,436.00. It seemed to him, that regardless of who had to do the paying, this was a very large amount for six hours in ER. Yes, the hospital treated him like royalty. There are no complaints. When he requested chili fries for lunch, they were brought without delay. It's the large bill that provoked him and prompted him to pick up his pen once more and start writing. He was treated like royalty and billed accordingly - like he was a millionaire. Medicare insurance paid the bulk of the bill; but there still remained a balance of $1,084.
Rebekah has been a real anchor for Peter during their 40 years of marriage. Money or the lack thereof has never shipwrecked her peace of mind. When she has it, she unselfishly spends it. When she has none, she does not fret. She calmed Peter's spirit by quoting Jesus' reply to the Pharisees, "Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God" (Matthew 22:21). After a few agonizing nights, Peter paid his tribute to Caesar and then picked up his pen, his sword.
In his mind's eye he saw the parallel between two thousand years ago and now. There are many empires, many Caesars, in addition to political empires. The need to be top dog in the political arena is the root cause of many wars, much pain and much suffering. There are also economic empires, economic wars and economic casualties. Some casualties are the innocent byproduct of technology, others the direct result of premeditated ruthless competition and exploitation. Yes, the CEO's (Chief Executive Officers) of industry remind him of modern-day Caesars. These Caesars are ruled by men with king-size egos - the need to be top dog at any price. With cunning and shrewdness and under a veil of benevolence and governmental sanction, they exact their tribute from ordinary citizens of all ages.
If we would adhere to Jesus' command "To be our brother's keeper", insurance would not be necessary. We would help him rebuild his house if it burnt down or make room for him in ours. It is because of the hardness of our hearts that insurance empires are flourishing. Where there is no love, there is fertile soil for fear to flourish. Fear is the cornerstone of an industry that must not be allowed to get a foothold in our lives. What a challenge it is for this writer to address the crippling spirit of fear, first in himself and then to a wider audience. This writer would rather die in battle than be paralyzed or enslaved by fear. Jesus Christ died in battle. He is to be our role model - a tough act to follow.
Peter's compassion for those who need medical attention but cannot afford it has mushroomed. That's always a good starting point for anyone who has a compassionate and crusading nature. Healthcare must not cost an arm and a leg. We only have two arms and two legs. No government has all the right answers. No Caesar has all the right answers. In fact, we must not look to or depend on the government or the insurance industry to be the cure-all. Healthcare must first and foremost be a matter of the heart. It must be equally available to both rich and poor and everyone in-between. Peter knows why his life needed to be detoured through the emergency room. Being a crusader on assignment is a rush for Peter. The Lion of the tribe of Judah in him is poised for battle.
Peter has chosen Jesus Christ not only as his Lord and Savior, but also as his Primary Healthcare Provider and Commander-in-Chief. Before going to the phone to get help or answers, he goes to the Throne - the Throne of God. Like King David, before going into battle, he checked with his Commander-in-Chief. Employing this strategy is the only failsafe key to victory.
We have been brainwashed and instructed to call 911 ahead of anyone else whenever there is a crisis or emergency. If we do, Jesus cannot be our wisdom. Peter's focus is not about living long, but finishing strong for and in Jesus' name. Jesus Christ finished "strong." He was thirty-three when he finished the race. He won the race. He won the war. He won because He loved His Father and always asked His Father what to do. He left His mark and His Word. It can never be erased - many have tried, many will continue to try. What a waste of time and energy!
Peter is wondering if there needs to be a free clinic in Pagosa Springs, Colorado and other places; and if he is the one to crusade for this to happen? If you would like to help make such a clinic a reality in Pagosa Springs, Colorado or anywhere else, pray and let your voice be heard. Yes, healthcare must first and foremost be a matter of the heart. Money must never be the number one motivator to enter the healthcare field in any capacity; but far too often it is. This writer is both warring and weeping.
WE HAVE NOT BECAUSE WE ASK NOT
Before Peter paid Caesar, he called Brenda at the hospital. She takes care of billing questions. He told her that it was difficult to pay the full amount. He asked for a discount. After a long silence Brenda came back to the phone. She said her supervisor allowed her to grant a ten percent discount. Asking was humbling for Peter but it was worth every penny - in fact it was worth more than ten-thousand pennies.
Join the roar and
Let's go to war!