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Post photographer Michael Williamson is traveling across the country covering the economic situation.

Treating The Sick Amid An Ailing Economy

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Nate DuVall was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes just two weeks ago when he came for help at Catherine's Care Center. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

GRAND RAPIDS, MI--Rick Tormala wore penny loafers with the pale blue pants the hospital had given him that morning.

The shoes hinted at where his life had been just a year and a half ago and the scrubs told of where it was now.

Tormala had been a Grand Rapids City Commissioner with a resume that included a string of important titles: mayoral candidate, a senator’s aide and an investigator for the public defender’s office. It had been his job to help the vulnerable.

When we met him, Tormala was sick, underemployed and uninsured, shuffling at a pained pace through the waiting room of a free clinic. Nearby, counters were topped with free loaves of bread for the hungry and adult diapers for the incontinent. He was the vulnerable.

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On the same day he was released from the hospital, Rick Tormala visits Dr. John Walen at Catherine's Care Clinic. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post


“I didn't imagine I'd ever be without health care,” Tormala said when I knelt down next to him in the waiting room and asked why he was there. He said that even when he lost his insurance in 2008, “I always thought I’d pick up another job, with health care.”

But he didn’t. Despite his resume, he was a 55-year-old man looking for a job during a recession in one of the hardest-hit areas of the nation. He couldn’t find anything full time, he said. So, he settled on two part-time positions: one with a company that sells computer ink and toner supplies and another as a host of his own show on a public radio station.

But he said even when he talks about health-care issues on the show, called "Tuesdays with Tormala," he never mentions his own situation. He never tells people how he and his wife went from making $130,000 to $20,000 a year, never describes how how he hadn't seen a doctor since 2007 before coming to the clinic a few months ago.

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is put myself through this,” the father of three said of walking to the back of the red-brick church and through the blue doors into Catherine’s Care Center. “It’s much easier to be a helper than it is to be helped.”

Michael and I hadn’t planned on meeting Tormala. We were spending the evening at the clinic -- taking in the rhythms of a place crammed into the 1,200 square feet beneath the church -- when Tomala came in. He was there to see Dr. John Walen, whom he had first met in April when his blood pressure spiked to 194 over 124. Further tests revealed that Tomala had kidney problems.

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Dr. Johnny Walker listens for signs of chest congestion in patient Robert Goetzel. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

On the night we met him, he had just been released from the hospital with a catheter. He wore the hospital scrubs because they were loose enough to hide the bag attached to his leg.

“You can argue what type of national health care plan is needed -- that’s a legitimate debate,” Tormala said. But, he added, some plan is needed. “I was very close to not coming here, and if I hadn’t, I would have probably stroked out somewhere and my family would be burying me.”

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Even when the waiting area at Catherine's Care Center is busy, few patients volunteer to sit in the "shot" chair. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

The clinic sits in a walkable neighborhood of tidy streets lined with a mix of stores and single-family homes. Walen, who is the medical director there, said the clinic formerly saw mainly the chronically poor, but now serves more people who are “acutely poor,” or “acutely uninsured.” They are seeing people who used to have comfortable houses and might have them again, but for now live with their parents. These are people who once dressed up for work and now spend their days sending out job applications. These are people who once had sick leave and now can't afford to get sick.

Walen has a patient who was bitten on the hand by a cat and let it get infected to the point that it now needs to be surgically drained. But the man refuses to go to the hospital because he’s afraid if he’s admitted and loses time at work, he’ll no longer have a job.

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Karen Kaashoek runs in and out of an examining room to borrow a piece of equipment needed by one of the volunteer doctors. At left, nurse Tricia Coons updates the chart for patient Robert Goetzel. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

“Every day,” said clinic director Karen Kaashoek, “every day a person comes in that door that has a story.”

The clinic, funded mostly through grants and private donations, turns away 200 people a month because there’s no space to treat them, she said. By next summer, the clinic expects to move into an old school house, which would allow them to treat 15,000 patients a year, a big boost over the current 4,800, But first, they need to raise $1.3 million. None of the stimulus money went to free clinics, she added.

“People have said, ‘Now, with health care reform, you all can close, right?’” she said. “But no matter what health care looks like, it’s not going to happen tomorrow. And in the meantime, things keep deteriorating.”

If someone loses a job and sees a car repossessed as a result, she said, that person will eventually find another job and be able to buy another car. “But if you lose your insurance and you’re a diabetic and you stop taking your medicine, you go blind or you lose a leg," Kaashoek said. "Those things don’t come back.”

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Dr. Johnny Walker doesn't only treat patients on nights he volunteers at the clinic; he also takes out the trash. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

Nate DuVall, who dropped from 205 pounds to 147 pounds in about a year and a half, said he didn’t tell anyone how sick he felt because he didn’t want to be a financial burden on anyone in his family. Two weeks ago, when the 22-year-old’s mother finally convinced him to go to the clinic, he learned that he had Type 1 diabetes and was on the verge of falling into a diabetic coma.

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Nate DuVall had lost 50 pounds before he sought help at the clinic. Karen Kaashoek notes his weight: 154. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

“You wouldn’t know it by looking at me now, but I was pretty big and strong,” he said. “I was a tough guy.”

He wasn’t sure of his height, but he had an inch or two on Michael who is taller than six feet. The three of us were talking in the exam room when Dr. Johnny Walker walked in. He is a retired emergency room doctor who was married in the church above the clinic and who baptized his children there.

“Hey stranger,” he said. “How much did you gain?”

“She said I’m about the same – 154.”

Both looked disappointed.

“How’s your blood sugar?”

“Lower, but not good," Duval said. "But I think that’s mostly my fault.”

How badly did he really feel before his treatment began? I asked.

“A dead horse,” Nate said. “That’s how I felt.”

“He looked like he’d been in a concentration camp,” the doctor said. “He was a sick boy,”

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If Nate DuVall had waited much longer to seek medical attention, the doctors said he would have fallen into a diabetic coma. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

Nate said his decision to go to college and study environmental science came after he filled out more than 100 job applications and received no offers. Now, he’s hoping to find a part-time job while he works on his degree.

“They definitely saved me a lot of money and a lot of hardship,” Nate said of the clinic, clutching a bag of free insulin. “Eventually, I would have keeled over and they would have had to ER me, and then you’re talking what kind of bills.”

It was after 7 p.m. when the clinic closed. Michael and I drove downtown, cruising through mostly quiet streets when we came to a plaza where more than a hundred people had gathered. Each carried a small white candle. We found out that it was a health-care vigil, one of hundreds organized across the nation by MoveOn.org in opposition to conservatives rallying against President Obama's health-care reform plan.

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Erika Dekker holding her son Caleb, age 2, while her other son Lucas, 6, holds a candle during a health-care vigil. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

While the majority of the crowd clustered in the middle of the plaza, watching the stage and waving signs, a homeless man named Tim Ehlert stood alone in the back, clutching his candle in the same hand as a plastic trash bag. Inside it were a few empty cans, and when I asked him about them, he said he was collecting the cans to pay for his prescriptions. He has 13 medications and each costs him $1, he said, listing off drug names used to treat his bi-polar disorder, chronic pain and high blood pressure. “I’m stuck,” said the 48-year-old. “The doctor said I’m disabled enough not to work, but yet the federal government says I’m not disabled enough to get disability.”

Barbara Ritter, 58, had come with her son, Steven, 26, who has no insurance and has gone to the free clinics. “I’ve been one of those people sitting on the sidelines,” she said. “Tonight, I said I have to get out. I have to do something.”

She hadn’t planned to get on stage to tell her story, but at the last moment, she walked up and described a childhood devastated by her brother’s diagnosis of leukemia and the insurance company’s refusal to pay his medical bills. She said she was 10 years old when her brother, then 13, died. After that, she watched heir father, who owned a grocery store in Idaho, slip deep into debt.

“When you work your whole life, you think 'That’s not me,'” she said, adding that she and her husband both have good jobs. “But we’re only one illness away from it being us.”

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Barbara Ritter came to the health-care vigil in Grand Rapids with her son, Steven, who doesn't have health insurance. Photo by Michael Williamson/The Washington Post

By Theresa Vargas  |  September 4, 2009; 10:23 AM ET
 
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Comments

Grand Rapids Michigan is a beautiful place to visit, and neighbors are truly helping neighbors in this story. But that is not a solution. Coming from Canada, I know that Canadians have health care no matter what happens to jobs. We do not need to replicate the Canadian system, but we DO NEED to come up with a solution, no matter how complex the process may be. Our American people are tuly altruistic, but we need to focus together and come up with solutions, no matter what our politcal differences may be. What kind of a society can care about neighbors except when they get sick or lose a job? The parties can wrangle all they want about solutions, but we must have solutions.

Posted by: jhogg | September 4, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

OK. Why is it we can provide seemingly unlimited FREE health care, clinics, hospitals, medical personnel to places like Iraq and Afghanistan (yes I know we are killing them) but not here? Maybe if Michigan declared war on Washington?

On the other hand why is it that the American people cannot receive the exact same health care that all members of Congress and their families receive? This care is paid by the American taxpayer? In addition these same members have military medical personnel at the Capitol 24/7 to take care of them and access to all military hospitals. During the entire health care debate not one of these people, congress, has yet to give up this coverage. We will not get into the taxpayer paid for dental program.

So what is going on or are the American people regarded as to simple to understand all of this?

Posted by: KBlit | September 4, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

And amid this, we continue to have folks deny the need for health care reform in this country.

The real miracle of Catherine's Health Center is that those stories happen day in and day out, every day! Led by dedicated volunteer docs and a handful of dedicated staff members, this clinic sees more than 400 patients each month, every month....and turns away another 200 who need the assistance. It's a real faith walk. And this is just one free clinic in one small midwest town.

This, in a country that spends untold billions on healthcare every year. There has to be a better way.

Thanks for telling the story.

Posted by: helen11 | September 4, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Yet another compelling read. Thank you.

After hearing all these stories, is it any wonder that the house with all of the whimsical lawn ornaments was a necessary stop on the drive?

Posted by: Jumpy66 | September 4, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

National single-payer health care- Medicare for all- is the solution. Please check out http://www.hr676.org/ to find out how you can support the effort make our health care system work for us, rather than the insurance companies.

Imagine our health care dollars going to health care for a change!

Posted by: ancient_mariner | September 4, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Seniors are upset with Obama’s healthcare plan ...

obama is not worried ...

If his plan becomes law there will be a lot less seniors ....

Posted by: UpAndOver | September 4, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

"Seniors are upset with Obama’s healthcare plan ...

obama is not worried ...

If his plan becomes law there will be a lot less seniors ...."

Posted by: UpAndOver
*******************************************
Only if they die from stress induced by right-wing lies about "death squads". That's something for which you and your fellow no-nothings can really be proud.

Posted by: st50taw | September 4, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Good article.
I am amazed at the criticism leveled at Canada health plan for everyone. Anyone can look at the statistics. They simply live longer than we do.
Only in American would we fight for the right to die at a younger age.
That is downright pathetic.

Posted by: vrob125 | September 4, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I have been having tooth pain for over a month. I called the dentist I used when I had insurance and they said they can't do anything. They gave me a number to call and the price was more than my paycheck. I had to go into HU Dental School to get emergency treatment. I already developed an infection that would have killed me. Why can't we pay more taxes like Canada, so we can have a better health care. If something is not done soon, the crisis will be more than an epidemic. Better health produces more productivity at the work place. I hope someday and and sometime, the law makers will consider this.

Posted by: eksanantonio | September 4, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

The Public Option IS the compromise!
It's not a liberal agenda - but a health care plan for ALL Americans.
And will enable small businesses to provide affordable health insurance for their employees!
My friend's small business employer (150 employees) just raised his insurance rates from $300 a month to $700!
Why do Republican voters LOVE the Insurance industry where CEOs make MILLIONS enjoying their yachts and mansions - while DENYING benefits to their INSURED?

Republicans FOR the Public Option!

Posted by: angie12106 | September 4, 2009 2:54 PM | Report abuse

>>>>Seniors are upset with Obama’s healthcare plan ...

THOSE seniors are upset because they bought the LIES from rightwing pundits and Republicans!

We're Republicans and LOVE our "socialized medicine" - Medicare!
And we agree with Obama - Medicare Advantage SHOULD BE CUT!
Taxpayers shouldn't be paying the Insurance industry $180 BILLION a year to subsidize wealthy and upper middle class seniors!
If seniors want more coverage than standard Medicare - they should pay for it themselves!

Posted by: angie12106 | September 4, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I am quite sure that there are people now who are wallowing in unemployment and bankruptcy who never imagined that they could get there. They were well invested in an overpriced house with a usurous mortgage while their realtors, bankers and morgage holders were taking them to the cleaners. Why do not these same people not see a similar threat in denying health care to more than twenty percent of the population and underinsuring at least as many more? Epidemics and diseases do not take a social history. They are not as selective as Mr Madoff was. They will go from swine to human beings, sneakily and kill and maim without selection. Healthcare access for all, appropriately, harbors nothing but good. Challenging to deliver, but good.

Posted by: Draesop | September 4, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

This is how things really are in our country thanks to those who would rather kick the can down the road than buck up and join the rest of the western world with Universal Healthcare. The right wing's pride for their ideology that everything gov't is bad except for bombs and prisons are destroying this country.

Look around.....the 47 million without health care is not some phantom group or Mexican day laborers as you convince yourselves. It's your neighbors and probably some of your friends. The employer based health care system does not work. Period. It's time to make a change and that is Universal Health Care options for each and every citizen in this country. Private companies can offer supplemental plans, HMO styled plans, or whatever else they want to make money, but they can no longer be the sole option for Americans because they're tossing millions on the street to die.

Medicare works for anyone over 65 and it can work for the rest of us as well. In fact it could help lower costs since all we do now is use private insurance to collect premiums from the healthy and then dump the aging and sick onto Medicare. Pool it all together and risk is properly spread out.

Posted by: theobserver4 | September 4, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Ironic - how many of the people in this area are the famed Reagan Democrats who fell for that old alzheimers riddled POS lies 29 years ago.
I have a lot of difficulty having ANY sympathy for that sort of person - they voted for ole Reagn and then Chimpy etc and now they're whining about the lack of health care

Posted by: Trojan14 | September 4, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Medicare for all is the solution. My mother is served well by the present medicare program. She can afford more so she pays an additional 185.00$ a month for supplemental insurance offered through my dad's former employer. Such a rational efficient system. I also happen to be a practicing physician and regardless of what right wing demagogues claim the system works well. Generally I am satisfied with my reimbursements. I am reimbursed in a fair and timely manner in the vast majority of cases. I work in a tertiary care university medical center and can always point to some services that may be deemed experimental for which reimbursement is more problematic. This is no different from private insurers however.
For the life of me I do not know why people are so frightened of government sponsored medical care. Certainly it will cost more in taxes, but then there will be fewer, hopefully no, out of pocket expenses incurred. Like the old Fram oil filter commercials; "pay me now or pay me later". This is a zero sum game; medical care must be funded, how is the only question. Choice willl still be available to those who wish individually to purchase supplemental insurance in a vibrant competitive market or through employers who wish to provide this benefit.

As for limiting the range of treatments; the public health care system must be empowered to sponsor research into best practices and outcomes since there is so much variation in cost and variety of treatments for the same problem across the country. Much information regarding outcomes is already available. Thus the system must be empowered to enforce best treatments and practices. I don't know how many people realize but this is not a radical idea. There are hospital formularies. I cannot without sufficient justification prescribe in the hospital drugs not on the formulary list. Insurance companies also already limit drug prescription choices; not necessarily on the basis of cost only.
Thus there is nothing radical about medicare for all except a more rational efficient way of delivering care than what we now have.

Posted by: kkish | September 4, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

It is so very sad to watch Americans on the news these days. Massive unemployment. Lack of health insurance and health care. Saddest of all is the inability to discuss the health reform proposals in a civil manner. Frankly, the screaming, the exaggerations and outright lies, and the intense anger are scary. It looks like an hysterical emotional fit. Over health care?? They seem to be working themselves up to violence. What is really happening?

Posted by: Akamai1 | September 4, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for this moving story. I want to send it to every opponent of health care reform, as I can't imagine how someone cannot be affected by these individuals' stories. I think most people who are against health care reform have no idea how desperate the situation is for many people. Perhaps I am naive, but I can't imagine people are okay just turning their backs on their neighbors. How can we not look out or care for our fellow Americans? There but for the grace of God go I.

Posted by: candle96 | September 4, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why the GOP doesn't care about their fellow Americans. Vote the rest of them out of office. P.L.

Posted by: EAguard54 | September 4, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

IT IS OBAMA'S FAULT

I don't understand why the GOP doesn't care about their fellow Americans. Vote the rest of them out of office. P.L.

----

Obama has spent 80% of his political capital on bringing COMMUNISM to the USA, with the obvious push-back.

HE IS THE BLAME -- no one else.

HE is the pushy, arrogant Harvard Law know-it-all -- who has NEVER held a management position in his ENTIRE LIFE.

HE IS THE BLAME -- no one else.

Posted by: russpoter | September 4, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

As a few others have, I do wonder where the churches are in this discussion. Universal health care, at least at a basic level, should be something the Abrahamic Big Three and probably others agree on.

Posted by: TexLex | September 4, 2009 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Does anybody have any doubt that this country needs health care reform?

We need government agencies looking into hospitals' accounts. Government needs to know how much hospitals, doctors, dentists are charging for their services. Why do we need copayments? Myself and my employer pay over 500 dollars/month for my INDIVIDUAL PLAN(just to cover myself) and I still need to pay 15 dollars everytime I visit my doctor. Last time I went to a doctor was last month to remove a fat tissue from my back. The whole process was a joke. I saw my general practitioner and paid 15 dollars, and she said that I needed to see a nurse in the Surgery Department in another town 30 minutes from my house. Ok, I went to see the nurse and I paid 15 dollars for a 5 minutes visit. The nurse told me the same exactly thing that my M.D. told me. Ok, she told me also that I could FINALLY set the day of my surgery with a clerk. The day of my surgery came and I had to pay again 15 dollars. Total of the bill: 45 dollars. What a joke is the American health system. Do not tell me "maybe you have a bad health insurance". Nope... as a government employee I had a very high quality plan. What I really have bad is a poor health care system in my country where health is treated as business, profits, etc. Please Americans...WAKE UP!!!! If you keep listening to REPUBLICANS AND SOME DEMOCRACTS YOU WILL END UP BEGGING FOR FOOD IN THE STREETS, AND YOU WILL ALSO BE LIVING IN THE STREETS BECAUSE EVEN YOUR CAR WILL BE TAKEN AWAY TO PAY MEDICAL BILLS!!!

Posted by: lucavalcanti | September 4, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

Great story!. This and others like it are chaning my mind on the health care issue. No, I don't believe there is a federal government answer. Medicare, Social Security, the US Postal Service, General Motors and Amtrack are just a few examples of how the gov't runs things - into the ground. We cannot be free of tyranny AND dependent on it at the same time. I do think we employees need to look to our employers for benefits choices (401K or HMO?) If Uncle Sam has a role here, it's to legislate employer tax credits for providing health care insurance and for individual tax credits to offset premiums.

Posted by: surfingsam | September 4, 2009 5:31 PM | Report abuse

It is important for all of us who are on the side of health care reform to stand up, speak out, write to and call your congress people, write to Pres. Obama, and continue to do so. It is not acceptable to believe that the opposition is too strong, they are just too loud and getting too much coverage. Tell our lawmakers who represent us that you want health care, universal health care. Yes, universal health care. That means everyone in, no body out. Everyone covered. Speak out! Speak up! Get out there and show your support. If you get campaign requests, write back telling them you want health care for everyone and when they back it and get out there and support it, you will be happy to help them get into office or stay in office. Tell them to co-sponsor HR676 the single payer bill in the House, and SB703, the single payer bill in the Senate. We must get active and stay active until we get universal health care.

Posted by: janejaehning | September 4, 2009 5:58 PM | Report abuse

When will health care reform take place?

1) When Americans learn to take care of THEMSELVES and not whine to the government for everything...an expensive, wasteful and freedom losing way to handle most problems. Adult diabetics as well as MANY problems can be solved by LEARNING about your own body and what it needs and what it doesn't need and How to take care of it...no excuses.
If this is NOT serious enough for YOU to take care of, why should anybody else do it.

2) When the government is HONEST and will say that there are about 12 million that really need help and that 177 million are happy with what the present system with some improvements.

3) When the government quits being a bunch of little babies behind the wheel, outrageously vilifying insurance companies and doctors FOR OWN THEIR AGENDA.
Insurance companies are HIGHLY REGULATED by State governments...HIGHLY REGULATED.

4) When this present government GETS OUT OF BED WITH the Ambulance Chasers and the Slip and Slide Lawyers like Edwards. He, like others, bring phony science into court, turn those court rooms into soap operas and wipe out the High risk Obstetricians and drive up the cost of insurance so they can live in Palatial Estates.

5) *Preexisting conditions are NOT a problem in states with Risk Pools.
*End the government ban on Interstate Insurance Competition
*Allow Insurance to be even more portable.
*Allow more groups to form Insurance Pools

All the above are very reasonable changes for starters that will help tremendously with out killing businesses or taking away health care from the 130 million Americans who are very happy with their present care.

Last but NOT least. Vote for those that are competent and will READ the trillion dollar bills they inflict on everyone else and FORCE congress to be apart of EVERTHING that they inflict on everybody else.

Posted by: ekim53 | September 4, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Hey Obama, why don't you FIX MEDICAID to take care of the those that are TEMPORARILY unable to take care of themselves even though NO ONE is denied healthcare in America. Yes, Instead of SCREWING UP the BEST HEALTH CARE IN THE WORLD FIX MEDICAID.

Posted by: ekim53 | September 4, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Powerful story and great testimonial, but I'm not one who needs convincing. I wonder if Palin is listening and thinking of her last child, or is Palin thinking about her needs, capitalize on the moment, so she has enough designer cloths and media attention to feed her ego.....

Posted by: tonyreeves | September 4, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, Grand Rapids has some of the best medical care facilities in Michigan (perhaps second only to the University of Michigan hospital). In the past 15 years, Grand Rapids medical facilities in the areas of pediatric, oncology, and other areas have grown exponentially.

Michigan State University recently opened a medical school in G.R. There are several long standing hospitals in or near the city which are well respected. Michigan Avenue in downtown is now home to a Grand Valley State U. nursing school and other medical research and practitioner facilities.

Thus, goes the irony of the story. The free clinic is within a few miles of these wonderful medical facilities.

Grand Rapids, Michigan's second largest city, has been for years a beacon of growth and stability in a state otherwise dominated by Detroit and the auto industry. The downtown has seen extensive rebuilding and has a thriving arts and entertainment district. Grand Rapids has the only professional ballet company in the state. Graduate programs for Grand Valley, Western Michigan, Michigan State, and several private colleges are in the city.

Grand Rapids and its immediate environs is home to office furniture manufacturer Steelcase, Amway (now Alticor), Wolverine World Wide (Hush Puppy), Meijers (a unionized store which even gives Walmart a run for its money in the Midwest), and more.

It is a metropolitan area of over 500,000.

All this, and Grand Rapids, like every other city in the nation, has too many folks like those in this story who are uninsured.

As a former resident of Grand Rapids and Fairfax County, Virginia, I prefer the former to the latter. (The traffic is WAY less in Grand Rapids and the bridges which span the Grand River are way more attractive than those that span the Potomac.)

So, how is it that we maintain the quality of medical treatment that is abundantly available in a city like Grand Rapids and at the same time provide humane and compassionate medical treatment to those who currently do not have readily available access to such facilities?

The answers are not easy. However, we do need more leadership and diplomacy and less politics and demagogues.

Health care is not a Republican or Democratic issue. It is a human issue.

Posted by: rburgess1 | September 4, 2009 8:47 PM | Report abuse

No pushing .......

illegals first .....

Posted by: UpAndOver | September 4, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

More than 60 percent of all bankruptcies in America are caused by catastrophic medical bills (an estimated 700,000 a year!). This atrocity does not occur in any other developed country.

Where is the Republican plan to put an end to this injustice?

WHAT CAN ORDINARY PEOPLE DO TO HELP?
Call your two senators and your representative in Congress to demand a proper health care system for all Americans. Don't be silent on this important issue. And don't believe the flat out lies being disseminated by Republican special interests and Fox News.

FIRED UP AND READY TO GO! WE SHALL OVERCOME! EACH ONE OF US HAS A VOTE!

Posted by: MHibernia | September 7, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

Catherine's Care Center, The Oasis, West Michigan Center for Family Health...all non-profit places I've gone to as an uninsured Grand Rapids resident. Each was an outstanding resource that met my health needs.

As tough as being unemployed and not having health insurance is, it brought value in taking a hard look at the personal health choices I needed to make in order to sustain my health. I needed to accept my circumstances and live within the means.

Posted by: itsonly10AM | September 9, 2009 11:36 PM | Report abuse

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