Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 1 Dispatch (6/27) – Chicago, Illinois to Hammond, Indiana

We had a great launch in Chicago with several people joining me for the initial part of the Walk. Four of the major local networks covered us.






In these dispatches I will be mostly sharing the healthcare stories of real people. Details of the Walk (places visited, meandering thoughts, meditations, etc.) are covered in the Twitter feed (@walk4healthcare). For all stories published here, written consent has been granted for public posting and a full paper trail of such documented. I am deeply grateful for all those who have spoken with me and it is my privilege and obligation to present them to the wider world. These stories speak to the heart, to the mind, and represent, in the fullest sense of the word, the bedrock of “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” which I hope shall not perish from the earth.

Martha: Joined us on the walk. She finds it shameful that a country can’t provide basic healthcare for its citizens like any other developed country does. “Civilized nations care for those in need,” she added. She especially noted that the connection of healthcare insurance to employment status was a big problem as it is, of course, not uncommon that those who are sick become subsequently unemployed.

Addison: Addison’s a young college student who has just voted for the first time in the last election. He is enormously patriotic but as he embarks on a Study Abroad trip to Italy this coming fall, he is embarrassed that back in the U.S. there isn’t healthcare for all as he has learned is the case in Italy.

Ron: This is a gentleman I met along Martin Luther King Drive on the south side of Chicago. He was working painting a fence. He waved his hand towards the streets beyond and said, “Yes, there’s many people here without health insurance. Yes, without healthcare.” He shared a story of a old lady he knew who had a change in insurance that now made it too expensive to get her insulin for her diabetes. What happened was that this lady was on Medicare and was in the hospital for some time. An insurance salesman actually met her in the hospital and convinced her to change her insurance (Ron didn’t know the exact name but it was something like “Well Care”). But what happened was that this ‘new’ plan didn’t cover the old lady’s particular type of insulin so she ended up spending out-of-pocket $129 a month for her medication.

Rev. Joseph Felker: Rev. Felker is the Chairman of the Chicago Baptist Institute who I met as I stopped by one of their outdoor events. It was a ‘Healthy Walk” event actually. He told me, “we should have had healthcare for the uninsured years ago. It is a travesty but hopefully the change we are seeing is a start.” The Rev. Dr. Clifford Tyler (President of the Chicago Baptist Institute) concurred, saying that, “Healthcare reform is long overdue. With the wealth of this country, it’s a shame that people don’t have healthcare.” They were very nice and gave me a couple bottles of water and lots of best wishes for the journey onward to Washington, DC.

Well: those are the people I had a chance to interview along the way. I did meet a few more people but I had to make time so I could reach Hammond before dark. I’ve ran marathons and, yes, even while walking one can ‘hit the wall.’ It happened around the 20 mile mark (approximately the IllinoisIndiana border) and I felt like giving up. I know its hard to believe but, yes, I felt like turning back. But hearing these stories not only is important for the world to hear but also gave me inspiration to keep going. I reached the Hammond Fairfield Inn (many thanks to them for providing a complimentary room) at 10:30 at night. My hopes of walking only during daylight hours was a bit ambitious but I made it …

Ogan Gurel, MD

1 comment:

  1. Well done on day one! Keep it up!!!!! Wish you were coming through NYC! Health Care is important for us all! We'll spread the word as you make your way! S~