Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thoughts on Dr. Jones' Letter

Disclaimer: This post is going to be completely out of the ordinary for me. Some of you may not like what I have to say, some of you may applaud me for saying it. I really hope I don't offend anyone in the process of typing out my thoughts, but I guess that's always possible. If you feel the urge to comment after reading (whether here or on Facebook), please be respectful to me and to anyone else who may have shared their thoughts. Open, respectful dialogue is encouraged, but I will not tolerate ugliness.


Many of you have probably seen the letter that's circulating around Facebook right now. You know, the one from Dr. Roger Starner Jones, the ER physician from Jackson, Mississippi. The one that was originally written to the editor of a Jackson, MS newspaper, not the President of the United States.

While at one point in my life, I probably would have re-posted this letter, it saddens me now that so many people are doing so. However, the way I think and feel about various topics has drastically changed in the past 18 months and I don't, or can't, expect anyone else to necessarily feel the exact way I do.

For the sake of beating around the bush, I'm just going to go ahead and put it out there. Ethan has received, and is currently receiving, Medicaid and SSI benefits. When he first qualified, right after his birth, I kept it fairly hush-hush for fear that the exact type of judgments passed along in Dr. Jones' letter would be passed onto me and my family.

When Ethan no longer qualified a year later, due to our income, we struggled to pay his medical bills and we became a little more vocal about getting the help we needed. Thankfully, the fund that you all helped to establish for us made it so that we didn't have to go into debt, but we're the lucky ones in situations like this. Not everyone (heck, not most people) who experience a medical crisis have a community like ours to surround them and keep them from drowning.

But, now that I'm no longer working, Ethan qualifies for medical assistance again. How many of you would point your finger at me for abusing the system? How many of you would point that same judgmental finger at someone in the grocery store, swiping their EBT card, who could very well be in the exact situation we're in? Unless I'm painfully unaware of how y'all feel about our current arrangements, I'd guess that no one would ever question why I'm not working and why Ethan is receiving Medicaid. But, you've spent time with us. You know our story and our hearts. You know that we're in this for the right reasons.

The person in the grocery store, though? Maybe she's a stay-at-home-mama of a sick child, too. Maybe that bag of Cheetos in her cart is the cheapest thing she can buy to make her child happy. Maybe that bottle of wine she's buying with a $20 bill is her moment of sanity in an otherwise crazy day. Unless you stop her in the parking lot and ask her to share her story, you'll never know. But not knowing doesn't give you, me, or anyone the right to judge.

Let's be honest here. Other than the fact that Ethan's not smoking a pack of cigarettes a day or drinking beer, what's the difference between him (and Jeramie and me as his parents) and the ER patient in Dr. Jones' letter? Should the fact that Ethan is wearing a pair of Stride Rite shoes and that his Mama and Daddy are passing the time on their iTouch give a physician room to judge?

Since when did someone being on Medicaid take away their right to be happy? Not indulgent. Happy. Since when did it mean that someone doesn't already purchase their own private insurance, even though it's not enough, and since when does it label one as "irresponsible" or "dependent"?

I hope we never find ourselves in Jackson, Mississippi, needing ER assistance from Dr. Jones. I pray that this type of judgment has not been passed over my family from within Duke University Medical Center, or from the hearts of any of you. I pray that the next time we find ourselves criticizing another we'll remember Zechariah 7: 8-10...
"And the word of the Lord came again to Zechariah: 'This is what the Lord Almighty says: 'Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts, do not think evil of each other.'"


Anonymous said...

I absolutely love that you shared your thoughts on this with us. Forget politics. Let's find a way to help one another more efficiently, and to embrace and love one another without judgement. I adore you guys.
--Adam B.

Derek said...

Beautifully written and so true. Thank you for reminding us that every situation is different and that as easy as it can be to make judgments it is rarely, if ever, the right thing to do.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Joye! You are very right that every situation is different. I do know of a few people that have/are abusing the system simply by making bad choices in their live. But then there are families like yours that are completely opposite. If I were in your shoes, I would most definitely choose to stay at home as well. You are doing what is best for Ethan, which is all that really matters!

Jenn said...

You are so awesome. I agree with everything you said. And you said it so much more nicely than I would have, which is why I kept my mouth shut. Jesus didn't tell that rich guy to sell everything he had, give all the money to the poor, and then demand an accounting for how they spent every penny.

mossfamily said...

Joye- this is beautifully said. And in our current world, it is so easy to point a finger & stick our noses up. And it is very convenient to FORGET that Jesus sought out & helped the foreign, downtrodden, & poor and charges us to do the same. It is not our place to judge, but rather to HELP! If i were in your shoes, i would be doing just the same. Your time with Ethan is much more precious and important than a choice between insurance or not!

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