Medical despair in disparity

| April 13, 2016
gerald deas

Dr. Gerald Deas

By Gerald W. Deas, M.D.

Definition: Despair—To lose all hope and confidence.

Definition: Disparity—Inequality… difference. Below one’s class.

A few years ago, a new but old word appeared on the landscape of health care and that very descriptive word was “disparity,” especially in health care.

When a group of people, especially those in a minority, have been considered to be unequal and expect the same services that are delivered to those in the majority, and do not receive them, they lose all hope and confidence. I captured this thought in a poem that I wrote entitled, Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. The third verse of this poem is as follows:

How come folks…Who are in power…Have the nerve…To think that…Other folks will…Not be missed if…They are lost and…Therefore  to keep them…Alive is no gain…Don’t they realize…That they are also…Here today and gone tomorrow. The phrase “who cares,” becomes part of their thinking and whatever is available becomes the norm, whether it is poor housing, unequal education, employment or health care. In other words, hope dies.

The Rev. James Robinson, a doctor of theology who taught at both Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, related in a lecture at Union, “When  the intentional breaking of a person’s will, is accomplished by depriving him of affection or respect and inciting him to despair, “soul murder,” will take place. The result can cause suicide (killing of oneself), infanticide (killing one’s children), parricide (killing of one’s parents), homicide (killing each other), and even deicide (killing of one’s God).

Medical disparity has to start with someone and end someplace of power. Often, when our government claims that they are broke due to unjustified wars, usually, funds that were available for healthcare and broken bodies are lacking. Major cuts take place in hospitals, extended care facilities, outreach clinics and local communities. Hospitals will be first on the list of cutbacks, thus, will find themselves unable to render adequate medical care. With the 40 plus million uninsured, it will be difficult for them to receive any proper medical care that is usually rendered in the emergency rooms throughout the country. Emergency rooms are frequently used as a replacement for private doctors who are often overextended.

Despair in disparity also rests on the shoulders of those who are providing medical care. If they are not in tune with those who need their care and cannot afford it, this creates an underserved  and unhealthy population. It is therefore crucial that physicians adhere to the Hippocratic Oath which they pledged to upon finishing their medical education. The service that they pledged should always be given without any consideration of ability to pay.

So, to my fellow physicians and medical caregivers, let’s remove despair and erase disparity from  those who are in desperate need of medical care.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Category: Health

About the Author ()

Gerald W. Deas, MD, MPH, MA is a physician, poet, patient advocate, playwright, media personality, political activist and public health crusader. Read his full bio at

Comments are closed.