Some months ago, I was having severe stomach pain. My bloodwork revealed that I was anemic. My doctor recommended a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy and colonoscopy. However, I live in a backward city with poor medical care. We have a tremendous shortage of specialists. In fact, there isn’t one neurosurgeon within 400 miles of my home. Auto accident victims have to be transported by helicopter to a major medical center.
The waiting time to see a gastroenterologist in my city was almost two months. In the meantime, I was in severe pain and was rapidly losing weight because I could only eat bland food. I tried to contact The Mayo Clinic in Pheonix. I was told that there was a 6-month wait to get an appointment with a gastroenterologist. The representative, however, said that if my physician sent a referral, I might get an appointment sooner. She sent one out but I heard nothing back. It has been more than six months since the referral was sent. I also asked the Mayo Clinic’s representative whether I could fly out to Pheonix and come in through the emergency room. In a hostile tone of voice, she said that she didn’t know. I subsequently found out that a U.S. hospital cannot turn away patients who need emergency treatment. (I also have excellent medical insurance which always pays for all my medical treatment.)
I was also told that I could not be seen at The The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota because one has to go to the closest geographical location to the patient’s residence.
Luckily, I was finally able to get an endoscopy/colonoscopy in my home city. A precancerous polyp was removed from my colon. That was where I was losing blood. I went through months of unnecessary suffering because I live in an area with poor medical care. As I already mentioned, I could not utilize the top-notch physicians at The Mayo Clinic in Pheonix.
I have read the “U.S. News and World Report” ratings of medical care in the U.S. I was shocked by the disparity of medical care in this nation. Wealthy coastal areas in New England, California, NYC and Washington DC have the best hospitals and physicians. Those who live in rural areas or small cities have medical care that is grossly inferior to the more affluent coastal regions. For example, the average life expectancy in my city is 5 years lower than in the wealthier coastal areas. This disparity in medical care is a national disgrace. As the wealthiest nation in the world, we should be able to provide every citizen with quality medical care.
The Mayo Clinic is an exception. By building facilities in rural areas, they are able to provide the best medical care in areas that need it the most. Unfortunately, I could not even get my foot in the door, so to speak. In fact, I was given the feeling that I was not wanted as a patient at The Mayo Clinic.