Friday, April 02, 2010

Politicization of Medicine

Well, Florida doctors never stop surprising me. Here comes another kicker: a Florida Urologist posted a note on his officer door that reads ""If you voted for Obama…seek urologic care elsewhere."
I have plenty of issues with the health care legislation but it passed by majority vote and its the law of the land. Even though, I favor a single-payer system I accepted the legislation. My patients often ask me about MY opinion and I let them know but I always listen carefully what THEY have to say because I favor dialogue. Is dialogue such a bad word now? What happened with the concept of political discourse?
According to David W. Johnson and Roger T. Johnson from the University of Minnesota, ,the purposes of political discourse includes

" (a) clarifying citizens' understanding of the issue, (b) helping citizens reach their best reasoned judgment as to which course of action will solve a problem, (c) increasing citizen participation in the political process, and (d) socializing the next generation into the procedures and attitudes they need to be active citizens."

The authors emphasize that

" Thomas Jefferson, and the other founders of the American Republic, considered political discourse to be the heart of democracy. Jefferson believed that instead of the social rank within which a person was born, the basis of influence within society should be discourse in a free and open discussion characterized by conflict among ideas and opinions. He noted, "Differences of opinion lead to inquiry, and inquiry to truth."

Unfortunately, we are far removed from this process and the further we deteriorate the more we degrade what generation before us tried to build.
A sad but true state of affairs.
I hope that the next sign a doctor will post in his office will read, " I welcome your opinion and your well-being should be my primary concern."

Dr. Jack Cassell: Sudden celebrity
Mount Dora doctor's anti-Obama stance sparks firestorm nationwide
Urologist stands firm, appears on national news as blogosphere erupts over sign telling Obama voters to go elsewhere

By Stephen Hudak, Orlando Sentinel

April 3, 2010

MOUNT DORA — Doug Bell isn't a patient of Dr. Jack Cassell's, but he almost wishes he were.

The Sorrento salesman heard about the firestorm over a sign that the Mount Dora urologist posted on his office door — it reads, "If you voted for Obama…seek urologic care elsewhere" — and wanted to see it himself.

"We need more people like him to speak out and take a stand against Obama-care," said Bell, 37, who snapped a picture of the sign Friday with his camera phone and planned to post it on his Facebook page.

Reaction was swift and passionate to news of Cassell's declaration as friends and foes weighed in online and over the phone, emailing and calling the doctor's office in Mount Dora to commend or castigate him.

Fueled by Internet sites such as the Drudge Report and the Huffington Post, which linked subscribers to theOrlando Sentinel story, Cassell received invitations to appear on several national radio and TV programs, notably Neil Cavuto's Fox News show and AC360, a CNN news and commentary program hosted by Anderson Cooper. He appeared on Fox and accepted Cooper's invite Friday night.

Not everyone was a fan.

"If I was one of his patients, I would not walk away, I'd run," said Patsy Robertson, 73, of Winter Springs, a Democrat and retired nurse. "He does not need to be taking care of people's lives if that's his mentality."

Cassell, a registered Republican, believes the sharply partisan, health-care overhaul pushed through by Democratic members of Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama will harm his practice and thus his patients.

He was applauded for his chutzpah by many who dubbed him a hero.

"Doctor Jack's a true American patriot," said Dan Evans, 34, a Georgia truck driver who detoured from a delivery in Apopka to shake the doctor's hand only to find the medical office is closed on Friday afternoons.

Sandra Boynton, 68, a retired Florida nurse now living in Idaho, described Cassell's sign as "repugnant" behavior.

"As a nurse, I was taught you don't refuse care to anyone based on anything that's your personal views," she said. "I simply cannot imagine any nurse behaving in this self-centered manner. This man is a disgrace to his profession."

Cassell told the Orlando Sentinel that he has not refused to treat any patient for his or her political views and does not quiz patients about their politics, but he also does not plan to take the sign down.

"I have plenty of Obama supporters in my patient base and we have a lot of political discussions. I'm not cutting anybody out of their care. I'm not refusing care on the basis of their political beliefs," he reiterated in an exchange with Cavuto. "I hope that more and more Obama supporters come through to find out what all the fuss is about because I think we have to do something about this."

But Cassell's former medical partner in Eustis, urologist Dr. James Young, 57, a self-described liberal Democrat, said a patient's politics should be no more important to a doctor than his favorite baseball team.

"It'd be like me saying I'm not going to treat a Cubs fan," said Young, a lifelong fan of the St. Louis Cardinals. "There are a number of thoughtful doctors who feel like Jack and probably a like number who feel the exact opposite, but they're not going to put a sign on their door. As doctors, our chief concern should always be what's best for the patient."

Cassell's story, picked up by The New York Times and driven by broadcast reports and conservative talk-show giant Rush Limbaugh, generated hundreds of e-mails and phone calls to the Orlando Sentinel from Web readers across the nation, a firm majority of whom not only support the doctor's view but also his right to voice them on his office door.

"I think he's saying, ‘If you voted for Obama, you made a decision and that decision has consequences,' " said Dr. William Crowley, 76, a retired neurologist living in Texas, who praised the doctor for provoking a discussion.

Margaret Taormino, 72, a retired social worker living in Tavares, expressed a common sentiment about Cassel.

"My husband and I don't need a urologist," she said, "but if we ever do, he's our guy."

Stephen Hudak can be reached at or 352-742-5930.