Minnesota vs. Arkansas Healthcare

My Experience at Saint Luke’s Hospital where their motto is: THE PATIENT, ABOVE ALL ELSE


Several years ago I was traveling to Lake Superior to escape the Arkansas heat when I had some pain. I called my daughter who told me a walk-in clinic could give me antibiotics that would cure it quickly.

After checking into a motel in Duluth, Minnesota, I asked the desk clerk if there was a clinic nearby. She said Saint Luke’s was close and they would see walk-ins.

I drove to the hospital and easily found a parking spot. My walk to my mailbox at home is longer than the walk from the parking lot. I was impressed, a parking space for a customer — what a novel idea.

I walked up to the counter and told them I needed to see a doctor. I was immediately taken to an examination room where a Physician’s Assistant interviewed me regarding my symptoms and ordered lab work. Simultaneously, a young lady entered the room and entered some of my demographic information (name, address, medications, and allergies) into a computer terminal. In less than five minutes, a Medical Doctor entered the room with the results of my tests and handed me a prescription.

The last order of business on my way out was an inquiry about health insurance. The entire time spent inside Saint Luke’s Hospital was much shorter than the time I am accustomed to waiting before even talking to any medical staff member.

A good friend of mine and former Mayor of Fort Smith went to another Minnesota clinic for an evaluation. He told me he walked into the Mayo Clinic and picked up a magazine on the way to the counter. He walked out of the clinic after the evaluation without having time to open the magazine.

Life expectancy is about 4 years less in Arkansas than Minnesota. Nobody will touch a patient in Arkansas without first making copies of insurance cards. At Saint Luke’s, they didn’t even know my name or have a single record about me in their entire system. I never touched a sheet of paper or filled out a single form.

In Arkansas, the first order of business is to make a copy of the patient’s insurance cards. Then, virtually every clinic and hospital will hand you a clipboard with a stack of papers to fill out even if you have been a patient for years. What can go wrong when a clipboard is passed around among sick people? The third leading cause of death in the United States is medical errors claiming more than 250,000 lives each year. That was reported in 2016 by the Washington Post.

I don’t think that includes illnesses caused by germs, pneumonia and other things while under hospital care? You would think that a patient scheduled for a CT scan or anything else would not need to sit in a waiting room filling out information that the hospital already has.

I was on a hospital board years ago and I have talked to many medical personnel. They tell me that hospital administrators are concerned about the bottom line and a myriad of things but something like the motto of Saint Luke’s Hospital is not on their radar. Most had never ever had a conversation with an administrator. No administrator had asked them what they needed to be able to do their jobs a lot better. Few administrators walked in the Emergency Rooms of their own hospitals and witnessed the treatment or lack of treatment of injured patients. If they had, they would have seen that most Emergency Rooms have the organization of a Zoo.

Only 29.8% of Emergency Room patients actually see any medical personnel within 15 minutes. I think they are afraid to publish the average wait times. “Anecdotally, there’s no question that it’s getting worse,” said Dr. Sandra Schneider, Professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Rochester in New York.

Schneider said out of 1,500 emergency physicians recently surveyed, 200 personally knew of a person who had died because of the practice of “boarding.”

Boarding means keeping patients in an emergency room bed when they should be in a regular hospital bed. Schneider said the practice eventually creates a backup in the emergency room.

Hospital Administrators are DEEPLY involved in POLITICS. Hospitals and Nursing Homes gave $64,000 to Governor Hutchinson’s campaign. That does not count individual contributions from Administrators or the contributions to Legislators who got Obamacare passed for them.

I know that hospitals have valid excuses for some problems such as illegal aliens or legal refugees pouring into America with diseases that were eradicated in the U.S. 100 years ago. Also, too many people run to Emergency Rooms with a headache instead of taking an aspirin. If hospitals don’t treat hangnails in a timely manner they can be sued. Too much of what hospitals are forced to do has nothing to do with healthcare but is the practice of Defensive Medicine to avoid malpractice suits. I think this will be remedied with the Trump Healthcare plan but mismanagement and lack of management and leadership will still envelope our clinics and hospitals. Fraud, waste and abuse permeates hospitals just like it permeates our government. We can do better.

Duluth is a port city the same size as port city Fort Smith. It was home port for the SS Edmund Fitzgerald that sank in 1975 losing all 29 crew members. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” was my favorite song in 1976 when Gordon Lightfoot released the album Summertime Dream.


One Response to “Minnesota vs. Arkansas Healthcare”

  1. Carolyn Walker Says:

    Having been involved with with emergency rooms or hospitalizing my mother, daughter and husband over the last 10 years, I could tell you some horror stories. That damn clipboard is a constant irritation.
    Baxter General Hospital is the worst with wait times and incorrect diagnosis.

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