In December, I accompanied my gentleman friend to a doctor’s appointment in College Station. The preliminary chit-chat with the doc yielded more information than I could possibly have anticipated! I’m sad to report that yet ANOTHER of his physicians affiliated with a corporate-owned Brazos Valley medical practice is retiring. This one, however, wasn’t riding off into the sunset as quietly as his predecessors. He confirmed what my gut has been telling me for more than a year now – Grimes County, we have a health care problem!
The bulk of my working career has been in health care, with a large amount of that spent in human resources. I’ve worked for nonprofit, for-profit and corporate owned facilities and people leave jobs for a lot of reasons – money, advancement, family circumstances. In this instance, however, the problem appears to stem from a top-heavy organizational structure - too many chiefs, not enough Indians - and a philosophy influenced by forces outside of the Brazos Valley which has made working there unpalatable for many.
This brings me back to the specialist referenced above who openly stated that when you don’t like the working conditions, you leave. My concerns about this “hexit” have been reinforced by experiences shared with me recently by now former employees higher up the chain of command who “saw the writing on the wall,” and got the heck out of Dodge. The bottom line is that the trusted network physicians who were part of our lives for decades are not happy with how they’re told to run their practices. They’re retiring or leaving for greener pastures, which incidentally, are NOT necessarily in the Brazos Valley and this has huge implications for the health and welfare of many Grimes County residents.
In the past, the Big School conducted or participated in periodic assessments of the state of health care in Grimes and the surrounding rural counties. I know this because I covered several of these “reveals.” I haven’t found evidence of any such assessment since covid. I propose that if Grimes County’s physical and mental health and access to services by some segments of the population was as compromised as they said it was before covid, it’s even worse after covid! It’s almost like the medical powers that be now have covid amnesia. ‘We’ll forget what it was like before covid. We’ll forget what we did to people during covid and we’ll avoid comparisons of then and now so nobody will recognize that we’re changing the game plan.’
I worry that things aren’t going to get any better. Several TV programs I’ve watched which have examined medical trends say there is a shift in thinking in medical schools when it comes to the Hippocratic Oath.
One seasoned physician interviewed emphatically stated that his allegiance is to the patient in front of him - not to a corporation, not to a medical society, not to a set of rules established by “experts” and not to the government. By design, that’s not necessarily the mindset of today’s medical school graduates.
How do we reverse this? I don’t have all the answers but I think we start by insisting on our Patient’s Bill of Rights being respected again. Second, we call, email or write our hospital board members and elected officials about our bad experiences. It’s the squeaky wheel which gets oiled. Third, we do our homework and find out where candidates stand on health care issues before we “hire” them. Many of these elected officials end up on health care committees on a local, state or federal level.
If we do nothing, the words of clinical psychologist and author Henry Cloud become a self-fulfilling prophecy - “You get what you tolerate.”
The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Connie Clements. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Clements is a freelance reporter for the Navasota Examiner and an award-winning columnist.