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THURSDAY NIGHT IS HEALTH CARE CHANGE NIGHT

Last month, our community lost an angel.  A woman whose caring and compassion affected not only me personally, or those of us here on The Great Orange Satan, but the DFW metroplex and the State of Texas.

Come with me below the fold so we can talk about a woman who I was lucky enough to call my friend.

I know that we've already had a condolence thread for our dear friend and fellow Kossack, drchelo.  What many of us perhaps didn't know, in fact what I didn't know until I asked around, is how much she affected the lives of so many others during her own far-too-short life.

She was the first woman to specialize in hematology and oncology at Baylor University Medical Center here in Dallas.  Ever.  Talk about breaking down walls/ceilings.

However, where her example of the kind of change health care needs shines brightest is perhaps her work as medical director (and honestly, one of TWO employees) at the Trinity Works Medical Clinic for the homeless.  It might be best to let her words speak here instead of mine.  From her diary last June:

At the Industrial District warehouse location, most of our patients were street people, and some who lived in subsidized housing and worked, either in the sheltered workshop or low-paying jobs.  As time went on, word got out "on the street" that there was a free walk-in clinic and the patient numbers grew to where I was seeing about 60 patients a week in the teeny little clinic.  Foot problems were a large part of the practice, as people who live on the streets had little opportunity to change their socks, people living in shelters rarely removed their shoes (they were likely to be stolen), and folks spent all day essentially walking around.  We would buy socks and Desenex spray in bulk.  Often Jackie would have three or four patients with their feet soaking in antiseptic footbaths, and she would pare calluses, trim toenails, and doctor blisters - literally washing the feet of the poor.

60 patients a week in a 700 sq ft space.  Amazing.

After her passing, this woman who had been so kind to me during my father's death (she was not only my friend, she was my landlady as well), this woman who really could have done anything she wanted (she often played the fiddle at the North Texas Irish Festival, too)... this woman's life spoke to me.  She didn't ask "what can I do?"  She just did it.

I think the fact that such a clinic is even required in this, the "richest country in the world", speaks volumes about what is wrong with our health care system.  No one should go without a basic level of medical care.  Not Bill Gates, and not the gentleman who asks for money on Stemmons Freeway every afternoon with his gorgeous little yellow lab puppy.  No one.

I was perhaps most moved to tears when our across the way neighbor asked about her and I had to inform him that she had passed.  His eyes welled up and he said, "You know, she saved the lives of so many people with HIV back in the day... she made HOUSE CALLS.  HOUSE CALLS.  The world lost an angel, I'm telling you."

Yes, yes it did.  Rest in peace, my friend.  May your vision of selfless health care come to some sort of fruition for your legacy.

Just to let you all know:  Dinner tonight is later than normal... so I won't be able to hang out in the comments for a while.  Thanks for reading, and talk to you soon. :)

Originally posted to Inside Loop 12 on Thu Jul 30, 2009 at 06:00 PM PDT.

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