Good Health Care and Great Health Folks Here in Brownsville

Published Brownsville Herald August 11, 2008

Over the last year I have written about personal experiences in medical care and two hospitals that I was treated by. I can now share experiences of Valley Baptist and critical care hospital, Solara.

Over the past few months I have had to deal with a rare skin disease and a crop of slow healing wounds that followed an earlier serious illness.

I pointed out a number of exceptional circumstances and some great health professionals. I met folks like Martine a wound care and physical therapy technician who recently was name as Valley Regional’s best trooper, and I can attest to that.

Due to some issues arising in the care after the hospitalization I was referred to the Valley Baptist Hospital Wound Center where I encountered Dr. Lorenzo Pelly, an icon in Brownsville Health. He emigrated from Cuba and subsequently came to Brownsville in 1982. Many can thank him for guiding their recoveries.

He found some problems that needed a more intense program and referred me to Solara Hospital that provides more in the way of critical care. There I met more great health care folks like Jamie, a charge nurse and Fred, a former military medic, who were not only skilled professionals but nice folks as well. The staff as a whole was well practiced and knowledgeable about their duties. My treatments were accomplished when needed, which on occasion found Dr. Pelly performing wound care in the early hours of the morning supported by the staff. Over the weeks, I became impressed with the doctor’s study of my medical problems and the implications of the unusual skin issues. We are progressing, even though slowly.

The doctors and nurses that I have mentioned here and so many others like Hector in the Valley Baptist Wound Center are indeed excellent examples of their profession but there are also so many others that do their difficult jobs in Brownsville’s hospitals, Home Health Care Offices and the many physician’s offices and clinics in the area. To be sure I met a few that focused on income rather than the health of the client, and just as sure they were very much in the minority.

We are fortunate to have such good medical treatment here but we must also participate by following the instructions given and learn enough as possible about the afflictions so that we can ask the right questions and make observations about changes that may help our treatment.

Not everyone demonstrates the passion for his vocation like my Dr. Pelly who has been known to visit a patient’s house when a particularly important treatment was missed and been found sleeping in the hospital after a particularly demanding day. He has also been an effective activist and speaker on health care issues even appearing on the O’Reilly Factor and CNN. Others often follow their vocations in different ways. I have met few without the passion.

This says a lot for the healthcare in Brownsville.

I think my experiences are not unlike the majority of ?the folks? who rarely think of health care in terms other than when the body is broke the doc fixes it. Over the years, the medical care has never been less than adequate and most often excellent. I have never been denied medical care in the U.S. for any reason nor have I ever heard of anyone else being denied. I have had disagreements with providers concerning the accuracy in the invoicing and amounts and have always found that those same providers, if not ignored, were open to some accommodations, when justified. In every case I have found that the current system is concerned with successful health care first! Certainly, now I wish I had paid more attention in health class and lived a better life, but what will any adolescent give priority to when healthy and indestructible?

I often hear criticisms of the medical care from some here in Brownsville but have never experienced or verified anything other than the kind described above. Certainly there are limits to availability of specialized services which are only available in large cities but we can take pride in what we have here. The variety of medical facilities we have, all competing to become better, just improves the quality of care, efficiency and economy to secure the client base and stay solvent. Unfortunately, the experiments with socialized medicine have not!

Presidential politics is on and we are hearing daily about the benefits of a socialized health care where the government would become the single payer and controlling bureaucracy for all health care choices. In the past it was referred to as ?Hillary Care? and has resurfaced in a variety of new names and even has some advocates from the right. In the last few months I have had occasion to chat with former health care workers from Canada and England. They confirm the reports of delayed access to many services because of long lines and in some cases like nursing homes the wait of as long as two years effectively makes it unavailable. It appears that the tax system is having difficulty supporting the English system which is substantially reducing staff. In Canada many are getting U.S. Health insurance so as to have reliable health care available when needed and in Europe many are taking medical vacations to places like India and the Philippines for what they need. Is it any wonder that we hear reports that the cost of Medicare is creating more and more financial problems for the budget? We do not need to be further enslaved with government run health care that will decide who can get well and when!

But we must also support the health professionals we have in our community do a better job perhaps by supporting a way to finance the newer and better equipment and facilities that will help them work better and more efficiently and improve the system of suffocating insurance requirements that make medicine a defensive practice rather than an innovative and efficient one.