A Piece of My Mind
November 28, 2001

Within the System of No-System

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2001;286(20):2513-2514. doi:10.1001/jama.286.20.2513

My waiting room is bigger than yours. It seats 228 and by mid-afternoon it is usually packed. On a good day patients will wait two to three hours to see me or one of the other clinicians who work here. On a bad day the wait can reach five or six hours. Not as many patients complain as you might think. Almost all are uninsured, and they have nowhere else to go. Our "acute care" clinic is a large county-hospital walk-in clinic—the portal of entry to the public health care system in a county in which 360 000 of the 1.3 million inhabitants are uninsured. The numbers are alarming, but the stories underlying them are even worse.

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