A Day in the Life of a Doctor at our Clinic
Below is a letter from my good friend Dr. Grant Scarborough. He is one of the founding physicians of Christ Community Health Services where I work as Community Outreach Director. This will give you a taste of what our Docs deal with day in and day out.
Occasionally I get inspired to write and this happens to be one of those days. I woke up early to vote for our next president. This is important. Four years of leadership that has the capability of changing our cities, neighborhoods, and even our very lives. Today was the day I made a difference. Standing in line with my diet coke can and granola bar in hand, I waited. One hour I waited. Then my time came, I thought. But they could not find my name. They found my wife’s name. I informed them that I lived with my wife. I even told them she was pregnant, I thought that gave me credibility. Still, no name. They called downtown and I was not listed there either. I walked away dejected. I couldn’t even get an “I voted” sticker. I asked for the sticker and the sweet lady said, “did you vote?” well – you know – I just kept walking. What a wasted hour, well not completely wasted. For over an hour I talked with a lady who was trying to start an inner city medical clinic in a nearby community. Her eyes lit up as we talked, “I’ve heard about you,” she said. We exchanged phone numbers all the while talking with the next guy about his desire to start a once monthly dinner for the homeless. Then my two new Methodist friends used my wifes favorite word “providential.” They smiled as they used this word while I stared in disbelief – or maybe old fashion confusion. Yes, by the time I reached the clinic I was a providentially dejected voter without even a sticker or an opportunity to change the world. I would even say that this is the curse of my mother, but she might read this one day.
All I can do now is pout and see patients. I am good at one of those and not so good at the other and I will let the reader decide. My first patient was a middle aged man from rural South Carolina. He showed up with his CAT scan report in his hand. I read the results before I even saw him – “a destructive invasive neoplastic lesion” obvious cancer that even a good “pouter” can interpret. The CAT scan was performed over a month ago (the words destructive and invasive came back to mind). Where have you been? Seemed like an obvious question. In unbelief I heard a story of rejection. He has been to 4 different hospitals that refused to help since he had no medical insurance, 2 were even state hospitals. No one was willing to give him chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. I yelled quietly, “What in the heck is wrong with this place?” This guy created in God’s image can die and no one cared. Breathe, exhale and keep going. Patient 2 – A kind inner city man with just your basic medical problems of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. He says everything is fine except…then he points to his head. “I don’t trust nobody doctor.” He tells a tale of sitting in his chair all night long and looking out his blinds every time he hears a noise. He stands alone at the bus stop. He walks alone and turns around if anyone is behind him to make sure he is not being followed. He is big and intimidating but has become imprisoned mentally. His wife passed away over 20 years ago and his son is in Iraq. “I don’t trust nobody doctor,” he repeats again and again. We pray for his tormented paranoid mind that has imprisoned him. After prayer, the man gets ready to leave and then nervously speaks “Doctor…. one more thing…” I don’t have time for ‘one more things.’ “There was an old lady out front who couldn’t pay her co-pay. What’s going to happen to her?” I inform him that people have to pay a little bit to be seen. It teaches them responsibility or something. “Well she said she could pay in a couple of weeks, but I don’t know how she will be able to – Do you mind….. I mean …..Can I pay her co-pay?” I have never seen a borderline paranoid schizophrenic reach out and care for a stranger like this man. I walked back in a closed exam room and wept. Is a president really going to change the world or will it be you and me and my paranoid friend. Has Christ not called us to this time and place to build His Kingdom and love His people? Are we going to change the world in the ballot box and then go home and wait for it to happen? We are his ambassadors, to build his kingdom, love a neighbor, serve the poor, and die to self. That sounds great, but now what?
My nurse is having a yard sale, why don’t you come? In fact, she has gathered a couple of friends to help, because economics tells you the more stuff at a yard sale, the more you make. And she wants to make lots of money. The yard sale is for Calvin – a quadriplegic, that comes to our clinic. He was recently hospitalized because Medicaid does not give him enough gauzes and supplies for all his wounds and his bed is not ideal for his thin quadriplegic body. My nurse was thinking about writing Calvin’s name in for the presidential election, because if he became president he would have better supplies. Instead, she decided to raise the money through a yard sale. She is “wasting” one entire day so a new friend can have gauzes, wraps, and lotion to stay a few more days out of the hospital. Talk about changing the world! She has started with loving her new friend through a yard sale, more than I have done in a long time. It is Election Day and I did not vote; but if I could, I would vote for you, the reader. We need you to walk outside and love those around you for the sake of Christ. Go, serve, build, and die unto the glory of Christ. Have a yard sale, pay for someone who cannot afford his bill, care for someone dying of cancer – – can you see the world beginning to change?
Thanks – G