I caught a glimpse of the NBC Nightly News last week and was surprised to see a feature story about Dr. Persharon Dixon, a pediatrician who left Atlanta to work with the local community health center here after the storm. The health center has her riding around in a mobile van, a rather ingenious setup. The van and her work is sponsored by the Children's Health Fund out of New Yawk.
The broadcast gave me a peculiar feeling of pride, revulsion, and anger.
Only the first emotion is directed at Dr. Dixon. I've met her, and she's a wonderful woman and pediatrician, very sincere and caring. I have nothing but good things to say about her.
The latter two emotions I reserve for the Children's Health Fund.
A mobile health van is a good thing. A community health center is also a good thing. But so are local pediatricians. I don't claim to know the timeline or organization of CHF's involvement with healthcare on the MS coast after Katrina, but I do know this: CHF sure as hell never called me. Not to ask what I thought the kids might need, not to ask how CHF might integrate into the existing health structure, not even how we might work together.
All right, Dr. Scott: be reasonable! They have no obligation to call every pediatrician on the coast. You are a private practice, they hooked up with a non-profit. Besides, they're here helping out, just be grateful and appreciative!
First, there aren't that many pediatric practices on the coast. Here in Hancock County there are three pediatricians, and one of them already works for the community health center. How hard would it have been to pick up the phone and call the other 2 pedi's here?
Second, and more importantly, good intentions are no excuse for arrogance, particularly when intruding on someone's home turf. The CHF has a press release which notes that Mississippi already had pathetic medical care before the storm, and a shortage of primary care physicians. That may be true, but not on the coast. Me and my colleagues are not ignorant back-woods hicks who need us a little edumacation from the big city experts. We need help, not competition. Yes, we can learn from CHF's experience, but they can also learn from ours.
And so, once again, the locals continue to toil for (what somedays appears to be) naught while the out-of-towners grab the attention. "Look! Look at what we are doing for these poor Mississippi children! Look how we are helping when no one else will!"
Go ahead, call it sour grapes. I know I have it coming. But when the spotlight leaves, will the local providers leave also? Having exhausted our resources, with no outside help for us, what will happen then? I hope CHF has a fleet of those mobile health clinics ready, because that's all that may be left for health care on the coast.