I’m attempting to live outside of “the box of normal” because normal doesn’t exist anymore.* What I used to think and know is probably wrong. It feels like about every “truth” I used to follow is now debunked and no longer the truth. From calories and exercise to opinions and facts … it seems like standing in the corner of my basement and not commenting on anything is the safest route to take.
They say “if you don’t like the weather in Iowa, wait five minutes and it’ll change”. Feels like healthcare. I’ve been at the Iowa Hospital Association meeting this week, and a lot of the discussions have been around changes. Where new moms and orthopedic procedures and surgical patients used to spend several days and nights inpatient … a lot are going home the same day. Pretty soon it’ll be a drive-through service. It’s hard for someone who has been doing this his whole life to comprehend that if someday I need a new hip - there’s a fairly decent chance I’ll be going home that afternoon.**
New tests - both radiology and lab - plus new, fancy, expensive drugs are a lot of the reason why things are changing so rapidly. I was talking with someone the other day who said in the future people will only stay in hospitals for situations requiring ICUs. So where does that leave rural hospitals - I asked. “I dunno?” they responded, which gave me no comfort.
This is depressing. And it will be reality if we don’t change how we think. A friend of mine went to the ER in Des Moines last year and waited 6 hours and then just left because that is a ridiculous amount of time to wait. I hear the “problems” of the big hospitals where they have a full hospital and can’t take anymore patients while most of the rural hospitals have open beds. And if you are lucky enough to get a bed at a big hospital - your caretakers will probably have a huge load of patients and the service you receive will (probably) be very different than what you would get in a rural hospital.
Change how we think. With everything. Do you shop as much as possible in your small community? If not - don’t be surprised when your lone grocery store closes. When main street dries up because of lack of business … don’t be surprised (especially if you primarily “shop” on the internet).
If we (in the healthcare game) don’t start rethinking how “healthy” looks and embracing the changes, we will perish. And we should. Normal doesn’t exist anymore and the more we try and embrace the “good old days”, the bigger the chance that we won’t be around much longer.
This is a call to action.
*My latest and greatest idea is to start a ukulele society. **I half-jokingly told the staff that if I do get a new hip, I’m staying for 2 weeks … just try and push me out. I’m actually very serious.