Friday, January 9, 2015

Bells and Lullabys

A number of hospitals that I’ve worked at have ways of letting the whole place know when someone has had a baby.  The child pops out, someone somewhere pushes a button, and over the loudspeaker little bells ring and lullaby music penetrates to every corner of the building.  I understand why they do it.  The birth of a child is a joyous event for a family and for the community as a while.  That being said, I’m not so sure that’s true for the baby itself.  If you think about it, the kid had it pretty good.  Warm, snug, and well fed.  Not a care in the world and nothing to do but take naps and lie there, coiled up, looking at one’s own endlessly fascinating genitalia.  Perhaps this is why it’s said that men spend the first nine months of their life trying to get out of the womb and then the next 70 years trying to get back in.  It’s really a helluva deal.

Of course, being ER folks we have our own twisted perspective on these announcements.  We know from statistics that that over 40% of births in this country are covered by Medicaid, and that Medicaid patients go to the ER at double the rate of those with private insurance.  We know that most private pediatrics offices solve the problems of after hours care by referral to the ER.  We know from experience that as a society our families are failing, and that many have become dependent upon institutions to care for their children rather that doing that work themselves.   So when we hear the music, all we hear is more work for us.  Job security, I suppose.  But on the whole, we’d rather not know.

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