Here is the text of Dr. John Fanning’s speech at Saturday’s Health Care Tea Party:
First, I want to thank all of you for coming out today. I have never helped organize a rally and I am thrilled to have such a great turnout. I want to thank Huntsville Hospital especially David Spillers, Rudy Hornsby, and Tonya Haggard for their help. Thanks to the Huntsville Tea Party and especially to Christie Carden, Melissa Wilson, Chad Capps, Tomas Gallucci, and Vince Kreul for all their hard work. Thanks to the Madison County Republicans for their support and to Gary Palmer, President of the Alabama Policy Institute for his support and for giving up a Saturday to travel up from Birmingham to speak with us today.
Thanks to all the health care professionals for taking time to come here today. I especially want to thank all the nurses, medical techs, pharmacists, therapists and other members of the healthcare community who came out today. Physicians do not acknowledge your sacrifice and value as much as we should. Without you we could not care for our patients.
I want all of you to understand that doctors here are not against healthcare reform. To the contrary, we want reform. We all understand the challenges facing Americans who do not have health insurance. President Obama and Congress and even our friends across the street who are protesting for the bill would have you believe that patients are dying in the streets. They want you to believe that if you do not support this bill you are an evil soul who wants people to die. Understand this: everyone of the doctors here sees patients without insurance. In fact, were it not for the altruism of physicians patients really would be dying in the streets.
Today you will not only hear the problems with the catastrophic healthcare bills in Congress, but fiscally responsible, real life solutions to our healthcare problems. I was influenced by my mother, a nurse anesthetist for over 40 years and knew at an early age I wanted to be a doctor, a healer. After college, I was given the privilege of attending medical school at the University of Alabama.
When I interviewed for medical school, I told the admissions committee that I was thirsty to drink from the fountain of knowledge. So when I started medical school they pushed a fire-hose down my throat and turned it wide open. I spent 12-16 hours a day in the first two years of med school going to class and in my apartment studying, reading and learning. During my 11 PM breaks I would watch the re-runs of M*A*S*H with my next door neighbor Sherry, who would become my wife. After my M*A*S*H break I would go back to the books.
Then came the 3rd year when I was allowed to see and care for patients. I remember walking into the ICU at UAB Hospital for the first time. I was pulling out my pen to write an order on a patient. A veteran ICU nurse looked at my pen like I had unsheathed a sword. She told me to put it back in my pocket. She was protecting her patient from a green medical student. Now I understand why she was so protective of her patient. All the nurses here understand as well. The patient comes first. I pushed my way through the 3rd and 4th years of med school and decided to go into Internal Medicine..a field specializing in treating adults.
Residency was one of the hardest things I had ever done. 100 hour work weeks, 36 hour days and countless hospital cafeteria meals with my new wife. I saw unspeakable tragedy, incredible courage and overwhelming joy…sometimes in the same patient. It was here that I saw the bond that a doctor forms with his patient. I saw what is required to be a healer. And my story is like all the physicians here. For many, the path took 10 years or more.
As physicians, we take an oath…an oath that is ancient, sacred, powerful. With this oath, we swear to treat our patients using all our knowledge with compassion, care and sympathy. We form a bond with our patients that is like no other because we are dealing with the most precious thing you have: YOUR LIFE.
Not everyone here today is a doctor or a nurse or a pharmacist or a therapist…but everyone here has one thing in common… everyone… everyone here is a patient. You may have a chronic, ongoing illness that requires a doctor’s care regularly. You may be a parent and frequently drag your kids into the pediatrician or family medicine doctor’s office for a fever, a rash or an earache. Or you may be healthy now and never see a physician but you will need our services at some point in the future.
Even the doctors here are patients as Dr. Robert Hash stated so well in his letter in the Huntsville Times this week.
Seventeen months ago I lost my father-in-law to a rare form of leukemia. During the months prior to his passing, I had the opportunity to be on both sides of medicine: as a doctor and as a family member. The care my father-in-law received was wonderful. His physicians, Dr. Manh Dang, Dr. Vuppala, Dr. Hassoun were all knowledgeable, professional, compassionate and caring;what we all expect from our doctors. The Huntsville Hospital oncology nurses gave tender care at each hospital admission. So many professionals were needed to provide compassionate care for a dying man. Respiratory therapists, speech therapists, nutritionists, home health nurses and social workers were all called upon to care for him until the end. As hard the last few weeks of his life were, the tender words and actions of those nurses and staff made the his death more bearable.
Mr. S was riding his bike near the Hampton Cove Golf Course and struck by an impaired driver. He was thrown into a stop sign and sustained massive internal injuries, a crushed pelvis, fractured femur and crush injuries to both legs among other injuries. Because of the phenomenal care he received by the Trauma surgeons and orthopaedists over his SEVEN month stay in the hospital he went home and amazingly went back to work. He told me in my office a few months ago he was going to get a new bike.
The point is that all of us are affected by this dismantling of the best healthcare system in the world. And that is why we are all here. As your doctors, we are your advocates, your counselors, your cheerleaders, your teachers and sometimes… sometimes your parents. “Stop smoking…. watch your diet… eat more fiber…. take your medicine…. get some exercise… and don’t make me turn this van around!!”
President Obama said that doctors would remove the tonsils of a sick child rather than treat that child with antibiotics because it would be more profitable. He said a physician would amputate a limb rather than treat that patient’s diabetes because it make more money.
Mr Obama SHAME ON YOU… I ask this. Mr. Obama, have you ever held the hand of teenager who was an accomplished pianist who lost most of her fingers from meningiococcemia?
Mr Obama, have you ever prayed with a family around the bed of a dying patient?
Mr Obama have you ever looked a woman in the eye and said “I am so sorry – but you have cancer.”
When I am in the ER at 3 AM seeing a patient who needs my help and I see Cardiologist Tom Wright consoling a family member whose mother or sister or wife just died, when I see Surgeon Richard Randall talking to a patient about the surgery he is about to perform instead of watching his daughter star in the school play, when I see Cancer Specialist Paul Dang making rounds at 11 PM instead of being with his family, I somehow don’t think driving a nice car is much consolation.
The practice of medicine demands much from those who choose it. It is simply too difficult, too demanding to be simply for profit. We do this because it is a calling.
Ladies and Gentlemen we are at a crossroads in America. We face a giant government takeover of our healthcare way of life that will..not might..will fundamentally change how WE THE PATIENTS will be treated. The Senate is debating this bill even as we speak and Harry Reid plans to have the first vote on the bill this very evening.
When this rally is done, you will ask yourself, what can I do to stop this train. We have information at the tables here on how you can call Senate and let them know you do not support this plan. We are fortunate that Senators Shelby and Sessions are against the bill, however we need to continue to let them know what we think.
I want each one of you to get the list of Senators who are undecided and call them today. Call them Monday. Call them the week after. Keep calling these key Senators until they know your name. When their staff asks you “Are you a constituent?” You say “Yes. This bill effects every single person in America and I am against this bill.”
WE MUST—- KILL THIS BILL!!!
I am afraid that this is not enough — I ask you what are you prepared to do for liberty? Don’t wait for someone else to go to Washington for you. Call every person in your address books- send emails to everyone on your email list, use Facebook and Twitter to let people know to call, email and fax the Senate. — AND have the courage to TALK to people about these critical issues that face our republic.
Edmund Burke said: “All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing”.
TAKE ACTION NOW