As first noted in tonight's Countdown w/ Keith Olbermann diary by CityLightsLover, Keith Olbermann read verbatim to the viewing audience an entire essay written by one of the show's producers, Rich Stockwell, in response to what Stockwell saw at the free health clinic held in New Orleans this weekend past. After Olbermann called for a fundraising to hold the clinics, around $1.7 million was raised.
The column read on the show, transcribed in part below, is at the same time moving, disturbing and gut-wrenching. I have reproduced some of it and added the video. If you have not seen this, watch it. If you have not read the transcript, read it.
The next free clinic, produced through cooperation with the National Association of Free Clinics, intended to target Democrats who are known to be weak in their support of the public option, as many of you are aware - New Orleans is Sen. Mary Landrieu's state - is to be held this Saturday in Little Rock, Arkansas - Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor's state.
In the segment tonight, Olbermann explained that "the idea of focusing frustration about the pace of reform and focusing the anger against the Bart Stupaks and the Mary Landrieus of this world into something positive," was the brainstorm of Countdown senior producer Stockwell, and that the brainstorm "wound up raising $1,700,000, and so far has gotten free health care to just over 1,000 of our neighbors..."
Did it work, he asks rhetorically? "Did it put political pressure on anybody? As Rich found out when he went to New Orleans to represent us, it damn well better put pressure on everybody, even those of us who already consider ourselves ardently pro-reform."
Olbermann then proceeds to read what he refers to as the "compelling" essay in total. The essay can be found on the MSNBC site. "I have changed," as a result of seeing this event, writes Stockwell, but he is heart-sick to think of the people who could not make it to the clinic, or did not know of the care they could receive at the clinic.
As I stood, Stockwell writes, my eyes welled up and overflowed:
Countdown producer bears witness to America's health care shortcomings
updated 7:39 p.m. ET, Mon., Nov . 16, 2009
Senior producer, 'Countdown'
New Orleans, La. — - It happened as I watched a 50-something woman walk out, after spending several hours being attended to by volunteer doctors. "She's decided against treatment. A reasonable decision under the circumstances," the doctor tells us as she heads for the next patient. The president of the board of the National Association of Free Health Clinics tells me why: "It's stage four breast cancer, her body is filled with tumors." I don't know when that woman last saw a doctor. But I do know that if she had health insurance, the odds she would have seen a doctor long ago are much higher, and her chances for an earlier diagnosis and treatment would have been far greater.
After watching for hours as the patients moved through the clinic, it was hard to believe that I was in America.- edit -
Countdown chose to highlight and raise money for the Association of Free Clinics because we knew the work they do is so vitally important and we wanted to show in real terms how great the need is. We invited several politicians to attend so they could see first hand how critical the situation is. All declined. Some explained that they talk with constituents all the time and know very well of the need for reform.- edit -
I spoke with a nurse who was there not as a volunteer, but as a patient. He works two part time jobs at hospitals providing quality care to those who have the one thing he doesn't. Many of his patients share his condition of high blood pressure, but they are fortunate to have insurance to pay for him to care for them while he goes without.
COMPLETE ESSAY AT LINK
Stockwell concludes by stating that he was "overwhelmed by the work and dedication of the medical volunteers and others at the event in the convention center in New Orleans, but is left with a question: "What does it say about us as a nation of people who can live in a country so rich and yet allow this to continue?"
This is a question that the corporate-owned, the 'I've got mine"-minded Randians, and the delusional, uneducated and the ill-informed like to dismiss. The corporations-and-profit-above-all free-market right wing sociopaths or sociopath worshipers who seized on to this effort by Olbermann and the Association of Free Clinics in order to portray it as simply "exploitation" of the poor need to be there - to look the persons who were diagnosed and whose lives may have been saved, among them, as seen at previous clinics, an infant with a heart condition, a laborer with a large tumor where his lower lip should have been - look these persons in the eye and tell then they are being exploited.
You can still volunteer for the Little Rock clinic by going to the NAFC link provided above.