BURLINGTON – Eileen Whalen, president and CEO of the UVM Medical Center in Burlington has reported a massive influx of patients in the past few weeks. She blames this sudden epidemic on the health care debate going on in Washington.
“I’ve never seen so many people decide to get sick at once,” she told the press on Tuesday. “Normally people wait until winter to get sick, or at least a holiday weekend for any major injuries, but this issue is affecting Vermonters in a big way.”
Long lines at the E.R. and even longer waits for scheduled appointments are now common, not just in Burlington, but all over the state. Urgent care clinics, medical offices, and private practitioners are all being overwhelmed. Raymond Fitzmittens spoke to a reporter outside Rutland Regional Medical Center as he waited in line to be seen for the leg he had just broken.
“Yup, I was planning on getting wasted over fourth of July weekend, doing something stupid with my buddies, and then breaking my leg. You know, normal holiday stuff. But honestly, I don’t know if I’ll even have health care in July, so I had to break my leg now instead. It’s a little inconvenient, and sure as hell not as festive, but what choice do I have?”
Fitzmittens’ sentiments were echoed all across the state as Vermonters started coming down with next year’s flu, and getting a jump on future ski injuries. Whalen is hopeful that the federal government will pass meaningful legislation that ensures health coverage for all people, because she isn’t sure the hospital can keep up with the current demand.
Until they do, people like Raymond Fitzmittens will be waiting in line. “I just hope they get it sorted out down there in D.C.” he said with a note of optimism. “Because I don’t know my future, I’ve had to schedule all four of my remaining lifetime colonoscopies for this week. I wish I could space them out every ten years like I’m supposed to, but that’s just not the reality anymore.”