Healthcare is a mess. I say this in my 29th year of emergency medicine. There are more sick people, fewer nurses, fewer physicians and fewer hospital beds.

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A visit to the ER anywhere might take hours, or might take days to weeks if you need to be transferred to another hospital.

There may not even be an ambulance to transfer you if you need it.

So here are a few tips:

  1. Take your medication as prescribed. Keep up on the refills. See your specialists; even if it’s by Zoom. If you have access to routine care, don’t put it off. If you’re on dialysis, don’t miss. Get what you can when you can, because it’s harder to get in an emergency than you might think.
  2. Get in shape. If you believe in freedom then for goodness sake get off of the couch if you can, put down the snacks (I know you can) and start, even if slowly, to lose weight and be fit. The less you depend on others to take care of you, the more free you are and the more you are able to help others. That’s what a good citizen should do. Good citizens do not neglect their bodies, abuse their bodies, then insist on their right to be cared for by others.
  3. Know what your local hospital has and know what the hospitals have when you travel. Not every facility has a cardiologist, or an OB unit, a dialysis center or even an operating room. In a crisis, go to the nearest place and hopefully you can be transferred in a timely manner. But don’t assume that any hospital has everything you need. Small hospitals in particular are losing resources and closing left and right.
  4. If you can buy flight insurance in your area, so that you have access to a helicopter for transport, then by all means do so. It might save you $50,000 to $90,000 dollars if you have a critical illness or injury.
  5. Don’t take unnecessary risks. This is not the time to experiment with stunts on the ATV, to go rattlesnake hunting or to pick a fight with a stranger. The care you need might not be available.
  6. If you drink too much, try to cut back. If you smoke, try to stop. If you are considering methamphetamine or heroin or any other mind altering drug as a hobby, just say no. If you’re addicted, please, please seek out help. There are professionals who want to guide you out of your addiction. You have no idea how empty our hospitals would be if there were no tobacco, alcohol or drugs. And don’t get me started on marijuana, which causes far more problems than it’s worth in loss of motivation, motor vehicle accidents, violence, psychosis and terrible vomiting and abdominal pain.
  7. I own firearms. If you do, then great! But please, train with your firearms. Understand how to use them safely. Keep them stored properly and out of reach of children and criminals. And if you have a bad temper, if you aren’t disciplined, just don’t carry a gun. Get a bright flashlight, a can of pepper spray and learn to keep your mouth shut and walk away.
  8. Please remember that emergency rooms, inpatient units, ICUs, are all full to overflowing. The staff, already beaten up by COVID, are at the end of their collective ropes. Many are actively seeking other jobs, and will take their years of experience in saving lives and walk away as soon as they can afford it. Be nice and try to understand that this is a complex problem but that it is not the fault of the folks trying their best to help you. Ditto for fire, EMS and police.
  9. Stay safe and pay attention. It isn’t going to get better anytime soon. And if that makes me a prophet of doom, then so I am. But I don’t ever remember a time like this. It’s unprecedented. And honestly, right now I’m somewhere between terrified and exhausted.

Don’t say you weren’t warned!





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