The National Broadcasting Company is mostly known these days as NBC, possibly because loyalty to the Nation seems far from its sights. The disloyalty is annoyance enough, as it retails self-serving messages from the White House without regard to the needs of actual citizens. Yet its most recent foray into advocacy journalism is going beyond partisanship into the realm of real propaganda and disinformation.
Last weekend the Today show did a feature on something called “shared medical appointments.” That means just what it sounds like, groups of patients being herded into crowded examining rooms to be treated in the presence of others. The Cleveland Clinic has been offering these appointments and apparently some patients enjoy aspects of being loaded in to the Doc.
NBC’s chief medical editor, Doctor Nancy Snyderman, see-no-eviled her way through the entire presentation. Why, folks love meeting other folks. And folks can ask other folks questions. Folks can learn things from other folks, too. In fact, sometimes Patient A can deduce something relevant about her own condition by listening to the doctor quiz Patient B about her condition. Besides helping you to get your head into the news, there is also plenty of gallows humor from wisecracking fellow clients to liven the atmosphere.
You see, we may have a shortage of doctors soon, explained Snyderman, because Obamacare will be bringing in a flood of new patients. This approach will help us manage the scarcity of resources. The summation is given by Doctor Marianne Sumego of the Cleveland Clinic, in a relentless crescendo of optimism: “You have extra time, extra information, extra resources, extra understanding.”
WHAT HAS BECOME OF MY COUNTRY? As a youngster, I eavesdropped on a conversation between my parents. My late mother was describing the crippling poverty of a family we knew. She was telling my Dad how they were forced to seek medical treatment in a “charity ward,” sitting in a big room without privacy as the overworked doctor navigates from island to island through this sea of human misery. This image has lingered hauntingly in my memory since that day.
In later years, I saw scenes just like my Mom had depicted. They were in films and documentaries, showing life in impoverished countries or in regions decimated by natural disasters. The director hardly needs an actor to utter a line to sum up this picture of desperation. It is enough for the camera to move slowly across the room in the hospital or clinic, with people sitting forlornly on every chair and every table.
Now it turns out all this is ideal. Where did we ever get the idea that a single doctor should invest time alone with an individual patient? That is the wasteful indulgence of a fatted-calf society comprised of people who have too much and share too little. Better to do things the old Soviet Union way, with lines around the block for every good and service.
I find all this so chilling. This is way beyond 1984. This is not Doublespeak but Backward-speak. It used to be better to go to a real doctor, but now we find that a nurse practitioner or a physician’s assistant can do just as well. It used to be better to go to a real hospital, but now we find that an outpatient clinic can do just as well. It used to be better to take a real medicine, but now we find that a generic facsimile can do just as well. It used to be better to drive a real car to the doctor’s office, but now we find that a bicycle can do just as well. It used to be better to have an appointment with a doctor, but now we find that a public examination in a crowded ward can do just as well.
Perhaps I missed my political calling when I shunned the label of Progressive. It turns out I was, to quote Harry Reid, “on the wrong side of history.” I foolishly thought modernity was a good thing, that mankind was growing and improving and upgrading as science and technology taught us more about the world. I had no idea that Progress meant going from the automobile to the horse and buggy.
Thank you, NBC, for showing us how to socialize during medicine. We eagerly await your next special touting mass graves.