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August 12th, 2009
03:56 PM ET

Honduras – A Peek Inside

As Honduras' political crisis drags on, my thoughts turn to the people I met there just last month. I wonder if Lohany's opportunity for an education will be affected. Will Anna Corina meet her dream of going to medical school?

I recently returned from a two-week trip to Honduras, where I visited a number of rural villages as part of a medical mission. I experienced first-hand the living conditions of thousands of Hondurans. Traveling with a group of physicians, I saw and helped treat more than a thousand Honduran villagers who don't have access to any level of medical care on a regular basis. Although Honduras has dense urban centers like Tegucigalpa, much of the country remains rural. Living conditions are rough - most villagers live in one or two-room thatched roof huts with dirt floors.

My Decision to Go
When I thought about whether or not to take advantage of a last-minute opportunity to go with my sister to Honduras, I was a little scared. I had heard about what the conditions would be like – sleeping on a hard concrete floor, an unlikely chance that we'd have any access to electricity or running water, recent earthquakes erupting throughout the country, and on top of all that, a chance of contracting Chagas disease. I had heard this disease hibernates for 20-30 years before causing severe damage to your heart and other organs and eventually killing you.

In the end, my sister convinced me to take the plunge. The group we worked with, HOMBRE, is an organization committed to providing medical care and education in Honduras as well as training to medical students. I offered to document the trip. And with that, I packed my bags.

First stop: Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos Orphanage (NPH); Rancho Santa Fe, Honduras (Translation: Our Little Brothers and Sisters)

An hour on a big yellow school bus from the Tegucigalpa airport, and we arrived at NPH – an orphanage that aids emotionally and physically abused children. More than 500 children live at NPH Honduras' 600 acres of beautiful forestland. Many of the girls at the center had been forced into prostitution, others raped. One child was found abandoned in a room filled with rats. NPH, however, was helping transform their lives. I watched them laugh together, run after each other, sing, and play soccer like any other group of kids would. I recently received an email from one of the women who currently works at NPH. She wrote us after the coup – and ended her email with the following words: "Things here in Honduras are still a bit crazy. We're all praying for peace..."

Second stop: The Impoverished Region of Olanchito, Honduras

After an eight hour journey through dirt roads on the yellow school bus, we finally arrived at Olanchito. Olanchito would be our home base for the next two weeks, as we traveled by pick-up trucks to little mountainous villages and back. In the severe heat, we got organized. The doctors categorized medicines, prescriptions, processes, and procedures. The team was preparing to see more than 200 patients a day.
That evening, before the real work started, we decided to venture out of our dorm to watch the Honduras/USA soccer game at the local bar. We got there and saw that a whole family ran the town bar. Young four and five year olds were kicking a ball or riding their bikes up and down the road one minute, and the next, reaching into the refrigerator and serving us a cold Port Royal or Imperial. Animals joined the party too. In fact, a duck walked into the bar...followed by a dog. About five local men came to watch the game, along with the 30 of us. Ironically, as the night progressed, I actually started cheering for Honduras over the USA. I always find that when I visit a country much poorer than the United States, its people remind me what is important in life and to appreciate how much I have.

Walking back to our dorm, I knew the chance of a good night's sleep was slim. I had been jarred awake each night by roosters that started their crowing at 11 p.m., along with other animals engaging in howling wars. That night turned out to be no different. The next day's wake-up time – 5 a.m.

First village trip: Three Days in Coyoles, Honduras
It took us about an hour and a half to get to Coyoles, home to the Dole banana plantation. The local priest, or Padre, spread the word that the HOMBRE group was coming; many of the villagers had been looking forward to the doctors' visit for months. I talked to one 76-year-old woman who walked three hours in the scorching heat to see one of our doctors. Her story moved me – she lived alone now, as her husband had left her years ago. She fends for herself and picked up washing the villagers' clothes to support herself. Every Sunday, she walks this same three hours to church.

Padre took me with him on a trip through town to talk with locals. As we drove through the winding, dirt roads of Coyoles in his pick-up truck, kids – laughing and playing – would run out from their homes and jump onto the back of his truck. Seeing this, I would have had no idea that Coyoles has such a high crime rate, or that the rate of child abuse is so extremely high. According to Padre, most people of the town marry young. After having their first child, it is typical to see the husband run off leaving the mother and baby to fend for themselves. Many of these women remarry, but the child of the first marriage often becomes a victim of abuse, both physical and sexual. Padre said it's not unusual for one woman to have six children by six different men. Adultery is widespread and there is a high, but unspoken, incidence of HIV/AIDS.

Padre stopped the truck at one point on the top of a stunning mountain cliff. I looked down and saw miles and miles of lush green valley. There lay the banana plantation.

It was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen. We were too high up to see the people working, but he told me there were thousands of people down there.

We treated more than 600 people in the three days we were in Coyoles.

The conditions of the people were shocking at first. Many people had missing limbs, and I was told this was the result of machete accidents in the fields. But one of the most disturbing cases I saw was of a baby that came in, not older than 1 year old. He arrived in his mother's arms, screaming. His body was shaking and purple all over. He didn't have any clothes on, and his genitals were completely swollen and red. He was drooling and in severe pain. Our doctors didn't have the capability to do the required tests to figure out what exactly was wrong, but the baby couldn't be saved.

We focused on the good that we could provide. As Padre said, even though we couldn't provide long term care for these people, we were feeding their souls.

Coyoles is where I met Lohany. She's been coming to the HOMBRE clinic for the past five years and is now the adopted daughter of HOMBRE's lead physician. The eleven year old (who didn't look much older than eight), full of energy and spunk, took care of babies, had a ball taking pictures with our cameras and was so smart she would even help out in the pharmacy.

Final Village Trip – Three days in La Hicaca, Honduras
We couldn't get to La Hicaca in the big yellow school bus, so the 30 of us piled onto pick up trucks and drove up the mountain, through swamps, in the heat. La Hicaca is very beautiful but also one of the poorest villages in Honduras. As soon as we arrived, people swarmed in and lined up to see a doctor. In addition to treating more than 600 people in those three days, the group performed dental varnishing for each person, and organized and executed a clean water project.

The people of La Hicaca got their drinking water straight from the river - the same river where they bathed and washed their clothes. The same river that had garbage scattered throughout and had animals wandering in and out. Through the clean water project, we were able to provide the entire village of La Hicaca clean drinking water. We provided water filters, essentially clay pots inside a bucket with a spigot to more than 50 families. This innovative filtering method effectively cleans and filters drinking water which is otherwise fully contaminated with E.coli and other bacteria. Two years ago, the morbidity and mortality rate for children under 5 years old here was 50%. But this year, none of the children from families who had received a filter last year showed any signs of diarrhea related illness.

I really bonded with the HOMBRE group through the trying conditions of our stay. In La Hicaca, we did not have running water or showers. Our meals were cooked daily by local women and consisted of a tortilla, beans and rice. Sometimes we had spaghetti and coffee was a treat. We slept on the hard cement floor and we often woke up with insects on our faces.

The whole experience, to me, was eye-opening and inspiring. When I heard about the coup d'état only a week after I returned, my thoughts and prayers immediately went to all of the wonderful people I had met, the children who so desperately needed help, who in some cases walked for hours to see us, and who begged us for our phone numbers so they could “hear our voice” from the U.S.


Filed under: Tony Harris
soundoff (42 Responses)
  1. Patricia Wold MD

    I am a recently retired physician who treated both Medicare and HMO patients. In the last year Medicare paid more per office visit than the health insurance company. When a company changed health insurance, many of my patients had to find another doctor since I was not in the plan.This never happens with Medicare patients. I have had more refusals to pay for medication or the need to get prior authorizations, which is a time consuming procedure, with insurance companies than I ever experienced with Medicare patients. This scare tactic with ads which state that you won't be able to choose your own doctor in a public plan applies only to insurance companies. In short it is the pot calling the kettle black.

    August 12, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  2. christine narad

    This is a wonderful description of what happens on this yearly trip. As one of the organizers of the trip, I would like to add a few notes. The trip would not be possible without the generous support of the Golden Phoenix Foundation, founded by Beth and Randy Russell. Each year the Golden Phoenix Foundation underwrites a portion of the trip to help the team buy the needed supplies for the medical clinics and water projects. The team also has several on-going research projects that allow us to monitor how we are influencing the health and well being of the children and families in the region. The overwhelming poverty in Honduras is something we do not come close to in the United States, even during our current economic crisis. Unfortunately with the current politcal crisis in Honduras conditions may deteriorate even more. Each year the feedback from the students is the same: This was a life changing trip. My hope is that this well written article will have the same impact on the readers.

    August 13, 2009 at 9:43 am |
  3. Jesse Grainger

    This article was great! When a country becomes caught in a major conflict that garners international attention (such as Honduras), it is very easy to forget the people on the ground, the people not making the high-level decisions. They are the ones most affected. This article really highlighted those caught in the crossfire. It was personal, emotional, and ultimately enlightening. Great work!!!

    August 13, 2009 at 10:08 am |
  4. deb miller

    Nicely done. Just wanted to let people know that while we did have doctors on the trip, we also had medical students, pharmacy students, nurses, NP's and translators. The children are absolutely adorable. too bad there is no picture of the donkeys on the porch in La Hicaca.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:11 am |
  5. Mike Stevens

    I very much enjoyed this post; I have had the great fortune to work with the Honduras Outreach Medical Brigada Relief Effort (HOMBRE) organization (http://www.hombremedicine.org/) on 3 medical relief missions to Honduras, and have always been struck by the quiet resilience and dignity of the people we encounter, many of whom are faced with the most abject poverty that can be found in the world. Suffering from chronic malnutrition and ravaged by a lifetime of hard physical labor, it is not uncommon to see people travel hours across mountains wearing only sandals in search of medical care. Sadly, many of the ailments that devastate these communities can be cured by well-recognized public health interventions such as providing access to clean water and appropriate sewage disposal.

    Unfortunately, the current political crisis in Honduras will only serve to worsen the living conditions for the poor majority in this country. As international aid is cut-off or severely curtailed, it is the millions struggling to survive in some of the worst conditions in the Western hemisphere who will suffer.

    I have also been struck by the generosity and courage of the host of people who donate their time and effort to help make these relief trips successful. Despite not insignificant costs of time, money, comfort and, potentially, health, literally dozens of individuals such as Sumi and her sister volunteer yearly to help bring medical care to the rural poor of Honduras. As the current political crisis will only serve to worsen the living conditions of the millions living in poverty in Honduras, it is critically important that humanitarian aid organizations re-focus and re-double their efforts to help the destitute majority in this country.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:48 am |
  6. Ed Schaffroth

    Our current system is totally 'unhealthy', broken, it favors the profiteers.

    We need health care for everyone. Europe has it and why not our great country?

    Ed

    August 13, 2009 at 11:20 am |
  7. Katie Macon

    This is an amazing piece that really personalizes the notion of poverty in Honduras and the real, tangible ways that people can get involved and help. I hope others are both as impressed and as inspired as I am after reading this.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  8. Harry Stine

    Please review page 59 of the health care bill and tell us what that has to do with health care.

    August 13, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  9. Jessica Fuller

    Thanks for highlighting the health care issues that are needed the world over! The U.S. can be both an example and a mentor to these countries. Many Americans struggle day-to-day, but very few, especially compared to those in Honduras, know what it is like to fear what comes out of the faucet or not having a road to drive on in an emergency.

    August 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  10. Lola Acherman

    Tony,

    Why don't they leave the health care the way it is and work on a plan for the millions that are not insured?
    We are happy with our health care. Leave it alone.

    Lola
    Wisconsin

    August 13, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  11. Carol Lieberman

    Hey, Tony-

    It's great to point out how much is being spent lobbying on healthcare, but how about telling us about who's behind some of the misleading names on some of the most dishonest ads we're being bombarded with? Rick told us more about the CPR/Scott connection, but what about the new "over60.org" ones and others. Just because something sounds like an innocuous organization doesn't mean it's so. We should know the story behind the ads.

    Carol
    Riverwoods, IL

    August 13, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  12. Gloria

    Regarding the Rick Pinto story, the media needs to ask Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is also from Kentucky, his opinion on whether Rick Pinto should step down. Based on the contract he signed, Coach Pinto should be terminated. With the Republicans strong stance on family values, I think it would be appropriate for the Senate minority leader and the #1 leader in Kentucky politics to comment on this situation. In my opinion, Coach Pinto showed little constraint and little respect for his family by having sex with a woman he just met. If Coach Pinto was Black, I'm sure the media would be asking President Obama for his comments.

    August 13, 2009 at 12:45 pm |
  13. bsweet61@twitter

    I'm retired and have medi-cal not medicare. I'm a 61, yr. old female.
    I had spinal surgery with metal rods in my back and. I'm still not..
    able to work. because of my condition.

    August 13, 2009 at 12:53 pm |
  14. Linda

    The comment on your report regarding health insurance for young people was incorrect when it stated that health insurance is cheaper for someone 23 than someone age 50. That refers to life insurance, not health insurance

    August 13, 2009 at 12:55 pm |
  15. julio

    HI TONY ,i want to know how an anchor like PAUL W agree with someone to show up at OBAMA town hall meeting with a bare gun just because he had a licence.why not himself when he went to the white house at the diner wth the press.uper darby,pa

    August 13, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  16. Jennifer Harlow

    This is such a touching portrayal of the relief and hope brought to these villages by organizations such as HOMBRE. As more and more international aid is suspended due to the current political crisis, the efforts of humanitarian organizations will become even more important. Thanks for such an honest and inspirational piece.

    August 13, 2009 at 1:34 pm |
  17. Paul Kanter

    This blog is the answer as to the future of news online. This is a real news story. Call it a blog. But a great story. And the kind of story I'm usually interested in hearing about but usually don't see on TV. So great job, Tony! CNN is the best when it comes to world news.

    August 13, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  18. Emma Davidson

    Hi, Tony, I like your dynamic 2 hours show. I am your admirer But today I was very disappointed.

    Ali Alchi gathered people.
    He said that 57 economists said that recession is over. But he failed to mention that each and any of those 57 economists said that it still only on economic indicators. They said that regular people will not feel ending of depression for sometimes.

    So, why he asked a question: “Do you feel that recession is over already?” Was his goal to receive a negative response?
    Can it be different? NO, no way. Look what all economists said.

    Did Ali Alchi try to prove that Obama’s Stimulus plan does not work? It looked like this, definitely.

    What it has to do with Tony Harris?

    Thank you.

    Emma Davidson. I am Russian Jewish. I emigrated from former Soviet Union 34 years ago.

    P.S. Sorry, my English is not perfect.

    August 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm |
  19. John

    Great write-up. Definitely captured the story really well. I think I will always be amazed by the spirit of the children that we saw. They were almost always happy even in the midst of such poverty.

    August 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
  20. Jud Kastner

    Looking around the world the United States still has the best of everything. As you can see from this article the people of Honduras and many other Latin and South America countries have very little especially in basic needs and health care. This article is up lifting and as it says the care that these individuals is very miniscule compared to what we have to offer and is available in the U.S. Unfortunately, as one had stated – we are caring only for their needs in a temporary way – they couldn't provide for long term care but care for their souls. Let's hope and pray that this care both physically and more important spiritually can be continued around for all the destitute and poverty stricken people around the world. A little unrealistic but hopeful.

    August 13, 2009 at 3:34 pm |
  21. Becky

    You summed up the trip beautifully. As Christine said, there are many people who made this trip possible. Thank you to the students, residents, nurses, PA's, NP's, attendings and other volunteers along the way who helped us see 1200 patients in 6 days!!! It was an amazing experience that will stick with me throughout my career.

    If only Americans realized how good we have it! I know our health care system is not perfect, but we are so fortunate for what we have.

    I hope HOMBRE and other programs like it will continue to help those in need for years to come and in doing so may help improve our health care system too.

    August 13, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  22. Dave Remund

    Very touching. I witnessed similar conditions firsthand in remote (and some not so remote) parts of the Philippines earlier this decade. Those of us fortunate to live in fully developed, stable countries tend to forget that not all people have such nurturing conditions. Thank you for a powerful reminder.

    August 13, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  23. Eric Padua

    As a doctor who went on this trip to Honduras, I'm thrilled to see this story get out there. The current controversies in health-care seem to consume too much of the nation's attention. It seems almost selfish to be so preoccupied by who will pay/administer our own health care when people in other parts of the world struggle, truly struggle, to live a a life that knows no health care at all. Thanks for telling our story, Sumi.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  24. Loan

    Great reflection! You really captured the needs of the people and the change that is required to improve the human condition. It devastated me to see the injustice and impoverished way of the life that they led. It should be a natural right to have medical care.

    August 14, 2009 at 12:33 am |
  25. Pat

    America is so broke Why??????????? then can Obama and his family spend 250,000 to vacation in Marha Vineyards next week.

    Do we as taxpayers pay for that too?

    He just spends, spends, and also WhY? do we have to give Africa all that money?

    Come on enough is enough.......no wonder our country is going broke.

    The money he is spending unnecessarily could help pay for The Health Care Reform.

    Why? can't we have the same health care program as congress and our President.

    He needs to Read The Health Care Bill before signing and stop lying to The American People.

    August 14, 2009 at 12:48 am |
  26. Vernetta

    Please talk about those of us how can afford health care today, but won't be able to afford it if it continues to spiral out of hand. We must do something. It is almost too late now.

    August 14, 2009 at 7:32 am |
  27. MK

    Great story - it is truly enlightening when you get to see first hand the conditions in which so many people in this world have to live. Sumi, your portrayal is inspiring, and I'm really thankful for those like you who spend countless days hleping those in need abroad as well as here in the U.S.

    August 14, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  28. Marc Sampogna

    I'm an avid dog lover, and think what Michael Vick was involved with was horrific. however, I do believe people deserve second chances, and hearing him speak at the press conference today demonstrated some of his contrition, as well as maturity as a person. Rick Pitino had a very good quote the other day, e.g. "When you admit to your mistakes, they become part of your past. But when you lie about them, they become part of your future." Vick has admitted to his mistakes, and from the sounds of it, will be working to make sure others don't follow in the path he took.

    August 14, 2009 at 11:25 am |
  29. Billy C

    Mike Vick was persecuted by a fanatical group of people who have lost touch with reality. Half the world considers "dog" as a food.

    The ugly little secret about dog lovers is that they support a breeding program/process which kills puppies for not having the proper coloration, ear structure or facial/snout structure. Anybody who owns a purebred dog is much more guilty of dog murder than Vick will ever be.

    Mike is now being forced to play the contrition game just to make a career in the game he loves and is a bonafide superstar in.

    As was mentioned, everybody in the NFC East is going to have a nightmare trying to stop the Eagles offense with Vick and Donavan in the backfield.

    Prediction is Philly gets over the hump and wins the Superbowl this season.

    Go Mike from a brand new Eagles fan.

    Bill

    August 14, 2009 at 11:34 am |
  30. Dick Davidson

    A gov't that can't run Medicare, Social Securty or Amtrak, do you think we really won't them to run our O'Bama Care. I say NO THANKS!

    August 14, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  31. Lorna

    If you want another viewpoint on the state of the "Recovery" ask a disabled person. Ten years ago, according to the President's Committee on the Employment of People with Disabilities, 75%of the disabled community was unemployed and only 2% of that 75% dido not want to work. As a disabled person who has been disabled for 15 years, I can tell you the best way to get money flowing into the economy is to invest in doing whatever it takes to help the 73% of the unemployed disabled working again and paying taxes. Then we will truly be on our way to a sustainable recovery.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:17 pm |
  32. Otis Scott

    MR.Tony . I like to no how many hospital recieving funds from the Federal govenment and clinic. People do not no that the Govenment is alread in health.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:52 pm |
  33. Dan Markley

    This is a genuinely important post because it brings attention to the exigent nature of the current political and economic misfortune of a rarely discussed country. Structural violence has utterly dismantled the honduran people of their ability to thrive, not dissimilar from many of thier neighboring countries in central america.
    Having the privilege to be a part of this outreach trip was truly a blessing. Everyone worked with fervor and diligence to attempt to provide relief to the Honduran people with the few resources we had. It is imperative that awareness is raised. As affluent Americans, it is our duty to be invested in providing reprieve for countries stricken with poverty, and not fall victim to the insidious complacency of wealth.

    August 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  34. annie kautza

    You really captured the experience well. I volunteered with Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos – Honduras (www.nph.org) for a little over 2 years as a Registered Nurse in their clinics, and now for the past year and a half I have been working for the NPH International Medical Services team. This was my fifth year participating with the HOMBRE medical brigade to Honduras, and feel quite blessed to be a part of it. Each year I continue to be amazed by the people we work with and meet during our trips. I always come back from these trips with more than I am sure I was able to give. You are exposed to the reality of life in developing countries. You learn the difference between "want" and "need", and learn how important it is to live in solidarity with the people of the world. We are all in this together. We need to recognize our duty to help the marginalized and voiceless rise up. We all deserve basic human rights – including access to clean water, which is something this medical team has managed to provide now for an entire village, with hopes of increasing the project to expand to other villages in dire need of clean water sources.

    The priests we coordinate our trips with in Olanchito are some of the most humble people I have ever met. They are so dedicated to the people of one of the poorest regions in the country. Each day I see them doing God’s work. They walk for hours to visit their communities, on difficult terrain and in harsh weather conditions. Without their endless efforts to help coordinate these medical trips, they would never be possible.

    thank you for your inspirational article about the wonderful people of this beautiful country.

    August 15, 2009 at 11:33 pm |
  35. sandy

    I understand there may not be a public option in the health care bill. If this is true I would be very unhappy. It has been wrong all along and very immoral for insurance companies to be making money on the backs of sick people. The fact that share holders make money because people are sick makes me SICK TO MY STOMACH. How many of those people who don’t want the government messing in their business, wanted the government to do something in the Terry Shivo case. The person who yells the loudest about the government and taxes are the same people who yell the loudest when the public safety (food, water, streets, disease control, etc) is jeopardized. I’m for single payer; if not single payer then faze in non profit insurance companies. I’m also for lawsuit reform, so if you have to compromise in any area, make it that one.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:14 am |
  36. Mary Mason RN, BSN

    Tony, let's get the record straight here!!!

    it is amazing to me that quality of life issues have not and is not being addressed at these so-called health forums and town hall meeting which is no more than a ditch effort of these so-called right groups trying to hamper the efforts of our President who is trying to expose over charge and waste of high cost medical expense and our ER rooms turing into medical clinics which i see almost every single day of my life and the older population who recieve medicare are taking advantage of tax payers it is a sham a cover up we need to go back to home healthcare for the elderly population who are seen at there home where medical professional can see these population of people give them expert advice as well as educate them on diet, excercise, OTC remedies that will cut cost!!! insurance companies needs regulation they are ridiculous in chargeing americans for premiums that most of us don't even use!!!!! by the way can we have a forum on the show from the real nurses and real MD's who work in this field and expose what is really happening please!!! i think the right wing will shut their mouths up seriously!!!! Let the Truth be told!!!

    August 17, 2009 at 11:28 am |
  37. rob hager

    There seems to be tremendous concern that if a public option for
    healthcare is passed that people will see a reduction in the quality of healthcare and may be denied needed healthcare by the government.
    I can't see in a million years that the government would deny needed
    healtcare. I do know that the insurance companies have a vested interest
    in denying claims or in reduction in re-imbursments for claims if they can
    get away with it. It seems to me that the public option would drive costs
    down by creating needed competition. Healthcare costs and healthcare
    insurance has risen faster in cost than anything else in this country. It is
    time to put the insurance companies in their proper place. The people
    have to responsible as far as taking care of themselves.

    August 17, 2009 at 11:29 am |
  38. Peg

    I am more concerned about big government involvement than the current situation. If 80+% of the people are already covered, then why not just restructure. Leave those of us alone that are currently satisfied, and work on the remainder. My part isn't broken and doesn't need fixing! I am 55 years old and have some health issues-I've been paying for my PPO my entire adult life and don't want my options removed at this crucial point in my life. Government has shown it is incapable of handling such an enormous task. Let's not give them something this critical.

    Thank you.

    August 17, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  39. Linda Crawford

    The Big insurance companies who give huge contributions to the Republican Party and especially Republican Senators and Blue Dog Democratic Senators have basically lied their way to frightening the population.
    Why? So much money is involved. A public option would force the colluding insurance monopolies who make money by DENYING care to reduce their profits and give better service.
    But what is most amazing is that Americans are so uninformed and so easily propagandized. The people who shouted down Senators when they tried to answer questions used the Nazi Brown shirt tactic that served the SS so well.
    If we had been allowed to have a dialogue, people might have receieved real information. The Rep;ublicans wanted to prevent a debate because they only really care about the money class. The very sad thing is that they can manipulate people into supporting things that are not only against their economic interest, but are harmful to them. By using fear, racism, and fake religious piety, they manipulate the uniformed and easily controlled.

    August 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  40. Sig Floyd

    Why don't people get it? Health care is being rationed NOW, by greedy executives for private profit! As a result, the neediest don't get any care at all. How could government "rationing" possibly be any worse?

    August 17, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  41. Constance Eaton

    I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT HEALTH CARE REFORM IS IN DANGER OF BEING WATERED DOWN. MY HUSBAND AND MYSELF HAVE PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS AND HAVE BEEN WITHOUT HEALTHCARE FOR TOO MANY YEARS. I HAVE HAD TO PAY CASH FOR TWO MAJOR SURGERIES WHICH WIPED OUT OUT SAVINGS AND MY 401-K. THESE WERE NOT OPTIONAL SURGERIES. I AM DISABLED AND CANNOT WORK AND MY HUSBAND IS SELF-EMPLOYED. THE PUBLIC OPTION MUST BE INCLUDED.
    I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE ARE WHINING ABOUT HEALTHCARE WHEN THEY ARE NICELY COVERED AT THIS TIME. I WAS COVERED NICELY FOR MOST OF MY LIFE WHEN WORKING IN THE CORPORATE WORLD IN A HIGH LEVEL POSITION. BUT, WHEN I WAS INURIED BY A TRUCK ACCELERATING THROUGH MY CAR WHILE ON THE JOB ON MY WAY TO A JOB RELATED MEETING, IT WAS AMAZING HOW FAST THE COVERAGE I THOUGHT I HAD STARTED ABANDONING ME. HOW CAN LARGE INSURANCE COMPANIES THAT I PAID PREMIUMS TO FOR YEARS, SUDDENLY TURN ON ME AND NOT PROVIDE THE COVERAGE PROMISED BY CONTRACT. ISN'T THAT ILLEGAL. I HAD TO HIRE SEVERAL ATTORNEYS TO TAKE EACH OF THE INSURANCE COMPANIES TO COURT, WHICH TOOK YEARS. THIS INCLUDED MY LONG TERM DISABILITY CARRIER, A VERY LARGE MEGA-INSURANCE COMPANY WHO JUST REFUSED TO PAY MY LTD COVERAGE. FIVE YEARS LATER, I JUST RECEIVED MY FIRST CHECK. OUT OF THE BACK PAYMENTS THEY OWED ME AT 60% OF MY INCOME WHICH WAS A 6 FIGURE INCOME, MY ATTORNEY RECEIVED 70% AND I RECEIVED 30% TO TRY TO SORT OUT THE BILLS I OWE AND FURTHER MEDICAL NEEDS. HOWEVER, I WILL NOW RECEIVE LTD FOR ONLY THREE MORE YEARS BECAUSE THE INSURANCE COMPANY DELAYED SO LONG. I AM DISABLED FROM THIS ACCIDENT AND CANNOT WORK. THE COST OF MY MEDICAL MAINTENANCE EACH MONTH IS ABOUT EQUAL TO MY SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INCOME WHICH TOOK FOUR YEARS TO START RECEIVING AND THE LTD INSURANCE GETS TO DEDUCT WHAT SOCIAL SECURITY IS PAYING ME FROM WHAT THEY PAY ME. THEY SYSTEM IS TRYLY BROKEN. EVERY INSURANCE COMPANY OPERATE LIKE CROOKS DOING EVERYTHING THEY CAN TO NOT LIVE UP TO THEIR CONTRACT. THEY LIKE TO RECEIVE PREMIUMS AND ARE HOT TO TROT IF YOU ARE A FEW DAYS LATE PAYING THEM BUT WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO YOU, YOU ARE LEFT HANGING WITH NO HELP. HOW IS IT LEGAL THAT I SHOULD HAVE HAD TO HIRE ATTORNEYS? ALLSTATE AUTO INSURANCE, THE INSURANCE COMPANY FOR THE TRUCK DRIVER, GOT OFF WITHOUT PAYING ANYTHING. I WAS IN FABULOUS CONDITION, HAD LIMITLESS ENERGY, NO ACHES OR PAINS AND WAS RELISHING IN WHAT A BEAUTIFUL DAY IT WAS ON THE DAY I WAS INJURED. I WAS STOPPED AT A RED LIGHT. WHO WOULD EVEN DREAM THAT A TRUCK WOULD ACCELERATE INTO THE BACK OF ME AT A RED LIGHT! IT TURNED MY LIFE UPSIDE DOWN. I WAS THE MAJOR BREADWINNER FOR MY FAMILY, ONE ELDER LIVING WITH US AND SEVERAL ELDERS NOT LIVING WITH US.
    WE NEED THE PUBLIC OPTION! WE NEED THE PUBLIC OPTION! WE NEED THE PUBLIC OPTION! MY HUSBAND HAS BEEN TURNED DOWN BY EVERYONE INCLUDING KAISER WHICH WE BELONGED TOO TWICE BEFORE. BUT THIS TIME, WE RECEIVED THE CLASSIC LETTER PRESIDENT OBAMA TALKS ABOUT, WE ARE NOT LONGER CHERRIES FOR THE PICKING. MY HUSBANDS AGE AND PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS THEY SAID IN THEIR REJECTION LETTER, WOULD HURT THEIR BOTTOM LINE. THEY CAN ONLY ACCEPT PEOPLE WHO ARE YOUNG AND HEALTHY.
    LUCKY FOR ME THAT WHEN I WAS FINALLY APPROVED IN APPELLATE COURT BY SOCIAL SECURITY, I BECAME ELIGIBLE FOR MEDICARE WHICH WORKS VERY WELL. I PAY EXTRA FOR PART D COVERAGE WHICH ACTS LIKE AN HMO SO HAVE A PRIMARY CARE DOCTOR WHO REFERS ME TO SPECIALISTS. I DESERVE THIS CARE. I PAID HIGH TAXES AND MAXIMUM SOCIAL SECURITY TAXES DURING MY 40 YEARS OF WORKING.
    IT HAS BEEN AN EXPECTANCY FOR MANY YEARS THAT WHEN THE BABY BOOMER GENERATION HIT THE MEDICARE RANKS, THAT THERE WOULD BE A FINANCIAL ISSUE. I KNOW THERE ARE WAYS THE GOVERNMENT CAN PAY FOR THE BABY-BOOMERS WHO PAID SO MUCH INTO THE SYSTEM DURING THEIR WORKING YEARS. SUCH OPTIONS AS:
    FIRE ALL THE REPUBLICANS WHO WASTE OUR GOVERNMENT'S TIME, COLLECT NICE SALARIES AND BENEFITS AND JUST TRY TO MAKE SURE EVERYTHING PRESIDENT OBAMA PROMISED US DURING HIS CAMPAIGN DOES NOT PASS. THIS WAS NOT THEIR POSITION IN PASSING ALL OF PRESIDENT BUSH'S TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY AND THEIR OWN SALARY HIKES. WE NEED AN EFFICIENT GOVERNMENT THAT WORKS. PRESIDENT OBAMA IS PROBABLY THE MOST INTELLIGENT AND HARD WORKING PRESIDENT WE HAVE EVER BEEN BLESSED WITH. ANYONE WHO GETS IN HIS WAY OF CREATING WHAT HE PROMISED IS NOT A PERSON I WANT REPRESENTING ME!
    WE ABSOLUTELY NEED A PUBLIC OPTION. I TRUST A PUBLIC OPTION MUCH MORE THAN ANY TAINTED, GREEDY, INSURANCE NON-PROVIDER THAT EXISTS IN THE SICKENINGLY GREEDY HEALTH INSURANCE INDUSTRY. WHY DOES THE HEAD OF UNITED HEALTH CARE TAKE HOME $3.2B PER YEAR? WHAT DOES HE DO THAT IS SO VALUABLE EXCEPT PROMOTE PRACTICES THAT LEAVE THE PUBLIC HANGING WITHOUT THE PROMISED COVERAGE THEY PAY THEIR PREMIUMS FOR. HIS ONLY JOB IS TO ANSWER TO MAKING A PROFIT FOR HIMSELF AND THE SHAREHOLDERS. THIS IS NOT ONLY ROBBERY, IT IS ASSASINATION. HE WOULD RATHER PEOPLE DIE THAN PREVENT DISEASE AND PROVIDE FOR THOSE WHO GET SICK.

    August 17, 2009 at 12:46 pm |
  42. Kim Kuzma

    Amazing article. Experiences like this one help me remember not only that we are very blessed to live in the United States (and often completely unaware of it) but also that there are many contented people in the world who lead lives of great simplicity. What a blessing that these Hondurans have help from those more financially privileged to tackle issues beyond their control. Thanks for documenting this trip!

    August 21, 2009 at 10:39 am |