Being politically active while practicing medicine is fraught with hazard. That is why the majority of physicians remain close-mouthed during this critical time for their profession. Let me provide a few examples.
One new patient walked out after seeing my T Shirt with the 2012 Penny, and heading saying, “Tax for Nothing” (for NOT purchasing health insurance) (AND, simultaneously, “’Thanks’ for Nothing”) – “Obama, We Don’t Want Your Change.”
Another patient (from the UK no less) told me I was being unprofessional, photographed the sign on my door, and walked out. (They were unaware that Governor Jan Brewer had posted a photo of it on her Facebook page months ago.)
For many years I cared for a wonderful fellow who is a local TV weatherman. Long ago, he made it clear that he favors health care for everyone, which he considers a Right. Over the years, we had a number of honest and calm conversations about this issue. Unfortunately, when I posted a sign on my office door saying that, “If you voted for Obamacare, be aware that I will close my doors before it is fully implemented,” he took personal offense.
Upon seeing that message, upset and comfortable, he walked out the day of his appointment this past April. He wrote, informing me he was sorry that he had to discharge himself from my practice. I, in turn, left a phone message telling him I did not accept his discharge, asking him to call back. I pursued this effort several times until he finally did phone me. As luck would have it, his call came while I was riding in a NYC Taxi on my way to the 4/15/10 Tea Party in the Big Apple.
We had a good chat, telling each other that emotions got in the way for both of us. I admitted that if I had to do it again, I would reword my sign, not mentioning anything about those who voted for the health care bill.
A few weeks later, my patient returned to my office only to find himself overcome by feelings of sadness when he saw the sign that remained on my door. By then I had added two T Shirts to my Anti-Obamacare message.
Almost in tears, he told my back office nurse that he was sorry, but he could not stay. A doctor’s office, he said, should be “Like Church” – and politics should be excluded from it.
Little does he know how intensely we both agree. I wrote him, letting him know how sorry I was that we had parted, and that I had been hoping to welcome him back with a great big Man-hug. There has been no further contact.
I can’t help but wonder if any conscientious Pastor would hold his tongue if Uncle Sam told him what sermons he could read – or not – and how much money should be deposited on the Collection Plate.