Dr. Crowley

I was born in the first year of the Hoover administration, and so have experienced the changes in health care brought about by science, technology and politics. I have a vivid memory of a visit to the doctor in 1935 or 1936. As I write this I can see my very young mother, see the doctor and his office, see his nurse in her starched nurse’s uniform, with the no longer seen white nurse’s emblem of office she wore in her hair. (The brain is a marvelous and at times bizarre instrument; I had not thought of this incident in 80 years, but today, as I write this, is my mother’s birthday, and Dr. Crowley leaped out of the distant and buried past and into mind.) My only other surviving memory of that visit to the doctor is that it cost my mother three dollars, a not insignificant sum in the midst of the Great Depression, so the visit was not a casual one.

It is well to recognize that the visit to Dr. Crowley was before the discovery of penicillin, before antibiotics, before health care insurance, before, actually, the doctor could realistically do much more than to diagnose what was wrong and advise you to lie down and hope it goes away. The other thing to remember is that Doctor Crowley was a sole proprietor of his business, with little to no government interference. He sank or swam as a private practitioner depending on his competence as a doctor and businessman. It seems to me that returning to the days of Dr. Crowley is not entirely possible, but even an approximation would be welcome. The country is different from the country of 1936, and that needs to be kept in mind. Whatever is decided in the future, I hope the government restricts itself to doing the minimum necessary to provide the basic needs of a modern health care system, while allowing technology to flourish, allowing medical schools to admit only those qualified, allowing the pharmaceutical industry to bring new drugs to market in a reasonable time, and to allowing private insurance companies to compete for business nationwide. But the greatest thing government can do is to allow Dr. Crowley to be Dr. Crowley.

The doctor, through the ages
Was an honored, learned man
A confidante of sages
Ever since the time began
But politics intruded
Saying kindness made it fair
That all should be included
The result Obamacare
But now we will replace it
With a simpler, fairer game
So good all will embrace it
And it won’t bear someone’s name
Now the torch is passed to Donald
Fixing health care his first move
And along with sainted Ronald
Dr. Crowley would approve

Leave a Reply