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New Beginnings

March 31, 2010

           

A little over a year ago I was involved in a 50 car pile up on my way to work on Interstate 70 outside Hagerstown, MD during a freak snowstorm. The accident claimed 2 lives as well as caused numerous serious injuries. My vehicle, which steered clear of most of the carnage (although ended up being totaled), was nearly hit by a tractor trailer as it lost control and skidded off the road into some woods barely 10 feet from where my vehicle had stopped.

I mention this because I frequently drive by the scene of the accident. Over time I have seen the area go from torn up grass and downed trees, to a visible hole in the landscape to today a single tree bent among all the brush as the sole reminder of the events of that fateful day. Whenever possible I glance that way and think about that day, how close I came to a serious injury or death and say a small prayer for those who were not as fortunate as I.

I reflect on the events in light of the dramatic changes we will see in the next several years as health care changes. With the passage of the new law many are unhappy, some see and end to all that is good in our systems while others hope (granted an overused word in this day and age) for a chance for America to provide for those that, in some way, have been left behind in our country.

The ultimate success or failure of this new world will rest on the shoulders of the everyday doctor who seeks to provide quality care and be compensated a reasonable amount for what they do with less hassle and less risk of being sued. Is this a reasonable outcome to expect? As most things do it all depends on your perspective. M Scott Peck in his famous book “The Road Less Traveled” opens it with the statement that ‘life is difficult’. Indeed it is and always will be. The key resides in how we respond to the difficulties placed before us.

The one lesson I did learn in that fateful few seconds as the tractor trailer passed my car is that every individual (and indeed every country) is on their own road less traveled. No person or country is perfect and each has legitimate points to offer as we seek to move forward on this path. The most important points are often made by those with the quietest voices; the disenfranchised, powerless and those without a high paid lobbyist. As most people, I have tired of the screeching and rhetoric of both political parties. What we need is a radical movement to the center!

Just as the area of forest has grown in along the side of the road, the wounds of today’s political fights will heal over time. We have work to do to improve upon what has passed. After all, like life, democracy is a work in progress. I suspect many of us will be working just as hard tomorrow for our patients as we do today. Will the future be better? It all depends on your perspective.

Angelo Falcone, MD

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