I'm 26 years old and I am losing my job. Most people who lose their job would either panic and look for another job or try to make sense of their life. Part of me is relieved that this is happening to me at a time when the world is still a possibility and the other part of me wishes that this chapter didn't end so soon. I wasn't ready for this. I still don't think that I am ready for this.
When it was first announced that the hospital I work for is closing down, my first thought was "What about all our patients?" We work in a part of Philadelphia that is underserved. The patients that get deposited into our emergency room are the dredges of society who no other hospital wants to take. Healthcare costs are soaring through the roof each and every day that we stayed in business. Healthcare is slowly turning into a profit-producing machine (and the scary part is maybe it was always a business). People in our community cannot actually afford to go to a doctor, get a necessary surgery, pay for medications, and be transitioned to the outside. And now that an epicenter for all of those who are homeless and without proper care may not be able to get access to good, quality care.
Each day we walk into work now is a pallor of depression and hopelessness. The state government, other hospitals, our very own CEO has given up on our hospital. Bernie Sanders and his team are using our hospital as a platform to rally about how a single-payer health system in the United States would help. But in the midst of all of this there isn't anything that will help us get out of the hole. Our hospital has single-handedly become the poster child of what it could be like if everyone had access to good medical care.
I understand that the situation has become extremely political. Am I glad for this discussion to happen at the forefront of the early days of the 2020 election? Sure, I'm happy that it is becoming a discussion point but I could be less than thrilled it is on the graveyard of 2,500 jobs that are lost and a community of people that are losing out on having healthcare. This can become the political issue that can save other hospitals from facing what we are facing. But it doesn't save us now and nor will it ever save us.
The last days of working at a failing hospital go something like this: sad and depressing. It is like working at a place where everything is coming to a close and there are no answers. It's ok because we, as healthcare professionals, can find new jobs and new career paths. There is a whole host of possibilities for us and places that will want us to work for them. However, the patients we serve will be a strong reminder of what happens when corporate greed gets in the way of patient care. The 2020 elections can help bring the issue of healthcare in American but I believe it can't solve what is happening now. But maybe the jury is still out on how healthcare in America can be shaped.