I’m a personal injury lawyer. Part of my job–and part of what I am proud to do–is report and comment on incidences of medical malpractice, dangerous drugs and avoidable injuries to patients. My law firm has a strong history of ensuring that people harmed during surgical procedures receive adequate compensation for their pain and suffering while being assured that responsible parties are held to account.
But I also know that doctors, nurses, pharmacists and all other health care providers work every day to provide invaluable services to people with illnesses, injuries and chronic health problems. An article and an editorial that caught my eye the Thanksgiving week reminded me that not only do health care provides work tirelessly to serve patients, many do so for free.
My latest University of Virginia law school alumni magazine contains a cover story on Remote Area Medical. RAM volunteers include pilots, veterinarians, optometrists and dentists, in addition to doctors and nurses, who travel throughout the United States and around the world for a few days or a couple of weeks at a time to treat children and adults who might never receive any other medical care, either because those people cannot afford health services or because they live in places where health care providers simply do not practice.
Closer to home, as I was reminded by Virginian-Pilot editor Roger Chesley, financially struggling Tidewater residents in need of low- or no-cost medical care can visit the Chesapeake Care free clinic any weekday. The clinic’s mission, carried out each day by its volunteers, is to “provide health care services to employed individuals or individuals with inadequate income who cannot afford health care and who do not qualify for other assistance programs or have health insurance.”
Understandably, since the onset of the recession, the demand for Chesapeake Care’s services have skyrocketed. The clinic continues to fulfill its mission, however, thanks to the nearly three hundred doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists and others who work there regularly without charging for their time or efforts.
While I will never shy away from my own mission to protect patients from preventable medical injuries, I will also gladly take this opportunity to offer my thanks for all the health care providers who do the same–especially the ones who do so on their own time and their own dime.