A Big Thank You

Truly a lot to be thankful for this year, thanks to modern medicine

You'd think they would get to be blasé about it.

Oh, sure parents and grandparents are thrilled with joy. But if you worked in a maternity ward, watching the miracle of life every day, wouldn't you get jaded?

Not so you would notice. My family has spent a good deal of time at the UT Medical Center in recent weeks; my first grandchild decided he didn't want a Christmas holiday birthday and insisted on coming NOW. So after a week of being held off, little Sawyer Cagle moved from the womb to the neonatal unit.

Over the course of weeks, my son and daughter-in-law and the grandparents were hosted by a happy, upbeat maternity ward staff who seemed to be as thrilled with Sawyer's successful entry into the world as we were. Totally professional. Caring. The neonatal unit is a marvel and I shuddered to think what would have happened with my children, 30 years ago, had they been six weeks premature.

Sawyer is already back on the farm. He's perfect, if a little small at this point. The greatest danger is infection, so the dogs are really unhappy they haven't been allowed to play with the new puppy.

The medical community in Knoxville is a marvel, take it from one who knows. We have great doctors and the nurses and technicians are totally professional and caring. We are indeed lucky and we ought to stop now and then and give thanks.

I've had surgery at three different Knoxville hospitals over the last 10 years. My friend kids me that I'm the only guy he knows in modern times who came back from the dead. I did spend two years pretty much sitting in a wingback chair and hobbling around on a cane. But I'm now fully recovered. No one really knows why, but I'm not asking any questions. While being in a hospital is not something I liked or ever want to experience again, I can honestly say the staffs at Baptist, St. Mary's, and Park West made my stays as pleasant as possible.

There is jockeying and jostling over market share, the locations of hospitals, as well as mergers and acquisitions. But that's for the business types to worry about. What we can appreciate is all our friends and neighbors who make up the medical community. Add them all up and it's in the top five of area employers. Medicine is a driver of the economy and people come from all over East Tennessee to Knoxville for treatment.

But even more important than the economic impact is the impact it has on the health and well being of our populace.

We need to do everything we can to ensure the viability of our medical services for both those reasons.

We have two threats to our wonderful medical community that are immediate. Gov. Bill Haslam has refused to ask for $1 billion in additional Medicaid (TennCare) funds that would mean a lot of charity care sapping the strength of our hospitals would be paid. Evidently it's because the conservatives in the Legislature think is smacks of OMG OBAMACARE.

We also are in a category in which our hospitals are not getting full reimbursement for Medicare costs. Because our hospitals are so efficient, the profligate hospitals in California and New York and Boston are being rewarded at a higher rate of reimbursement.

If one of our local doctors and one of our local hospitals have saved your life, saved the life of a loved one, or delivered to you the most beautiful grandchild ever, you might urge your legislator and your congressman to ask the hospitals what they need and help them get it.

I have to sign off now, it's almost Black Friday. I have to go to town and get Sawyer a soccer ball and an Xbox. We already have the rocking horse.

And Thanksgiving is a good time to acknowledged how blessed we are that the boy is with us, is healthy, and truly made possible by the wonders and the genius of modern medicine.