Today is the optional feast of Saint Frances of Rome who serviced the poor and needy of Rome at the time of raids by Ladislaus of Naples during the time of the antipopes when Rome was in turmoil. Her chief ministry was to serve just as was the apostolate of yesterday's saint Saint John of God, who founded the Hospitallers of Saint John of God in 1537. Today we can thank men like John of God for the concept of hospitals, though the HMO's today are a far cry from what John and his fellow brothers ever envisioned. In fact, the whole concept of serving others has seemingly been lost on society today. Doctors and medical personnel have seemingly forgotten the Hippocratic oath they took when they received their medical degrees. The care and concern for the patient has been forsaken for the almighty dollar and miles and miles of redtape that deprives a human being of not only proper health care, but their very dignity as a person, something his Holiness Pope John Paul II has been emphasizing for years in upholding the standard of human dignity for all who are made in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ and that includes all who have a soul.
And that is what is so sorely missing today in the hospitals, clinics and doctors' offices - soul! Much has been said in these pages about the "soul of America" and today we address the "soul of the physician." Why is it medicine and health care have become something only the very, very rich can afford? Before we go any further, we're not advocating in any way socialized health care for that will only deplete whatever quality still exists. We already have socialized health care in Medicare and there are few we have ever found who are satisfied with that process. Patience is a virtue and patients must practice many virtues in order to stay patient with the inept, incompetent and ill-advised prescriptions and diagonoses being meted out today. The latter are dictated by money and big drug companies who funnel millions to these doctors to prescribe their brand. Sadly, many times, as we have discovered over the years, these "channeled prescriptions" can be to the detriment of the patient who must pay out exorbitant funds if it is not covered by their insurance - and more often than not, it isn't. Once the patient discover the medicine is not the cure, they're stuck with bottles of pills that are useless. No refunds, only more money piled on as many doctors play the guinea pig game, saying "well, try this." To their credit, some doctors will give free samples, of which they receive endlessly per gratis from the drug companies, to their patients to prevent this raking the pocketbook. We contend that with the money and lavish gifts these drug companies confer on many doctors, hospitals and HMO's, they could easily lower their rates. But they have created a monster and that monster is the government which regulates everything ad nauseum...and that is often the source of the nausea. We've heard so many horror stories of poor treatment, incomplete diagnosis and disdain for the soul, even experienced some ourselves in our family, that we can see the problems clearly. Medicine has become Godless! Doctors are too often more concerned with their golf scores than the numbers on the thermometer. They've become hardened to compassion and human dignity. Too much emphasis is placed on being well while the sick are discarded as nuisances.
Jesus said in Matthew 9: 12, "It is not the healthy who need a physician, but they who are sick. But go, and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I have come to call sinners, not the just." We are all sinners yet people are no longer even considered sinners but rather numbers, all fostered by the government and their burocratic red-tape that ties everyone up with no one willing to take the blame or offer solutions. Too many doctors are specialists and pass the buck if this organ or that illness doesn't comply with what they studied in med school. It has become an impersonal profession that prompts millions to long for the country family doctor who knew you by name, knew all aspects of medicine. We seemed to get along fine back then. Oh, there were illnesses we couldn't understand such as polio, the flu and the common cold, not to mention cancer and heart attacks; but other than polio we're still in the same boat. As much as organizations tout that they have the cure or a new report is published in the Medical Journal that there is a breakthrough, very, very few are successful. Either it becomes a placebo or government, especially the powerful drug lobbies shoot it down. We speak from experience here for back in the late seventies, this editor had, as a client at his ad agency, a company called The Mollenhauer Company in San Diego, operated by a very ethical and fair man named Frank Mollenhauer who, through years of research and with a cadre of medical experts out of Canada, produced a pill for smokers and non-smokers that cleaned out the lungs. It was called "Cloud-Chasers" and was advertised nationally until... Until the FDA stepped in and literally shut Frank and his company down, confiscating a warehouse of product with nary an explanation only that they could because they were the government. It turned out that they would have granted permission to distribute and promote the product if Frank was willing to sell out to the large drug companies who control the FDA or pay an obscene amount to the FDA itself. Frank, because of his honest work ethic and concern for the consumer, held out. He couldn't see something that cost only a few dollars to produce and which he sold for a few dollars over cost at $9.95 a bottle, would be transfered to a drug company where one pill would cost more than that and be regulated through prescription. It's ironic that today, with all the talk and products out there railing against smoking (which by the way cost much, much more than the vile product they're trying to eliminate) none have the effect that Cloud-Chasers was proven to have. The ingredients contained in these pills were proved to clean the cilia in the lungs which nicotine clogs up.
So when we hear our government launch these platitudes about caring for the people and children and what's best, don't believe it for a second. It's all politics with nary a thought to the moral, physical or spiritual good of the person or country. The medical profession has basically misplaced its soul. In fact, the only ones who proved they care are those who minister to the people with nary a thought of profit. For the most part, the only ones we can think of are mostly saints today - St. Frances of Rome, St. John of God, and one who is soon to be a saint - Mother Teresa. There are many, many Catholic Orders today who minister to the sick and are doing the best they can for they continue to see Christ in all they care for. But sadly, too many Catholic hospitals and Orders are being undermined by the government and HMO takeovers that leave them helpless and those they minister to even more helpless. When Christ comes again will He find a compassionate people who take care of their own or a civilization of selfish, greedy professionals who took advantage of a system the Holy Father speaks out against constantly and reminds all of the inherent responsibility for those God has bestowed the great gift of healing and compassion.
Our Lord reminded us often that the poor we will have with us always and that they are blessed. The Pope reinforces this and Mother Teresa personified it. We must remember Christ's words in Luke 12, 19-21, "And I will say to my soul, 'Soul, thou hast many good things laid up for many years; take thy ease, eat, drink and be merry.' But God said to him, 'Thou fool, this night do they demand thy soul of thee; and the things that thou hast provided, whose will they be?' So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich as regards God." Too many in the medical profession have become fat and lazy, rich and apathetic because they have laid up treasures for themselves. We can't forget Jesus' words further on in Luke 12: 48, But of everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and of him to whom they have entrusted much, they will demand more." The people and God demand more of the medical profession today for they have been given much, specifically the gift of healing. If America and the medical profession is to reclaim its collective soul, it must start by remembering who they are treating - men, women and children with souls. Too many are lost and haven't a clue how to cure and that is the soul of the problem. They're lost and don't understand the words of Our Savior in Luke 4: 23, "Physician, cure thyself!"