Tuesday morning, the Daily News ran an article featuring comments by two of our local state legislators. (Read it if you missed it…) It was rough stuff, difficult words to see in print. My initial reaction to it was emotional, visceral. And then I thought about it during the day, thought about what the article said, what they said. I don’t know anything about Texas politics, the state budget, economics—I can’t comment there. I have no doubt our elected officials have been getting many, many calls and messages, mostly from “us.” They represent us, the people, our interest is their interest, all for the good of the community.
So I thought about the comments, especially the ones questioning why less than 40% of us get our care at UTMB, implying (to me and maybe many of you) that the care we offer leaves a lot to be desired. I’m part of that 38% that lives on the island and gets all my care at UTMB. My two kids were born at UTMB and have received all their care here. My wife forfeited her appendix to the venerable Sally Abston here. Why did I have that reaction? Because I choose to go to UTMB for my care, and I’m proud of the care my family has received and proud of the people who have provided it. It’s not a compromise. I’m not short changing my family or ignorant of choices a few miles up I-45. I’m not parking a Ford in the GM lot. I’m not ready to discredit our entire clinical enterprise on the basis of a naked and unexplored statistic. Why don’t more of us come here? I love UTMB, but if I lived in Clear Lake, I may not want to haul my wife and kids 45 minutes to and 45 fro’, especially if there was a good community doc in the neighborhood. Or I might not be comfortable having someone I know handling some embarrassing personal condition. And yes, we’ve held the mirror up to ourselves and been very critical—a difficult thing for anyone to do. We know access can be an issue. We know our buildings are old and tired. I know chances are the fellow in the examination room next to me drives a 1980s pickup, not a BMW. He works hard but may not have insurance. I’m proud my UTMB doctor will treat us with the same respect and compassion.
These may be bumpy times, and no one in Galveston, Houston or Austin can say with any clarity exactly what sits ahead in our path. But I’ll continue to put my faith and my care in the hands of my UTMB colleagues, and have no regrets about it.
(As a footnote, a few pages later in the same edition of the News, this letter from a grateful patient ran. And patient satisfaction scores are up. I’m feeling better.)