What is the path from healthcare as we’ve known it to a society where everyone has the resources necessary for their full development? The mire of healthcare reform in the United States and the constant vigilance necessary to develop public health systems in other countries can obscure the need for a longer term strategy. Today we are sharing the translation of an article from Spain that describes how capitalism corrupts health care, and a strategy to move from our defensive stance today towards a decentralized collective system of healthcare owned and organized by workers and the community.
Our #healthseries was conceived and collected throughout 2016 at time when the Obama administration was winding down, and before the ascent of Trump or the more recent rumblings of the right in Europe. For workers in the health industries the changing political winds are part and parcel of the day to day conditions as funding and regulation changes continually intrude on the work, caring for other human beings who often have no other options. The debate in the United States over how to provide health care to a nation increasingly burdened by the costs and dissatisfied with the status quo has returned with a vengeance. One of our editors and contributors, S Nicholas Nappalos, comes at these issues as a nurse and organizer, and tries to unpack the implications of the growing health crisis, what alternatives we really have, and what health for-and-by workers and the community could look like.
What’s at Stake in the Health Care Debate?
S Nicholas Nappalos
The 2016 election cycle has show…Read More
Medicine is draped in the language of commerce and science that hide the social forces that sustain and shape health in society. Gender is particularly central both to the experience of health industries and in the sustenance and production of health. Our contribution today comes from Melissa Sepúlveda Alvarado, a Chilean medical student and anarchist organizer. Her argument shows not only how patriarchy shapes health, but also how medicine reproduces patriarchy itself.
Health is about life, and health work makes business of our basic human functions. It should be no surprise then that health care is under attack globally where the decay of the neoliberal order has incited conflicts over who will control health resources. Over the next few months Recomposition will explore the health care perspectives and proposals for alternatives. We are proud to present the first installment in our Health Series with an interview that comes to us from members of the Health Sector Workers Network located in Aotearoa/New Zealand. They discuss attempting to build cross-workplace and cross-trade solidarity, the recent series of Junior Doctor’s strikes (the equivalent of residents in the US), and building workers resistance to health austerity.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself. What kind of work do you do, and how did you get involved in the health workers movement?
My name is Al. I’ve worked in the public health sector, off and on, for most of my adult life,…Read More
Vicious Care – sketch by Monica Kostas
This week’s piece comes to us from fellow editor Scott Nappalos, a healthcare worker in Miami. He writes about the challenges of salvaging human interactions and compassion while working in a profiteering healthcare system that renders impotent patients and healthcare workers alike.
We Carry Our Failures:
Working With People in a Dehumanizing System
My patient would come back to the hospital just as soon as he left. We’ll call him Mr. Jones. His arm was mangled by a rare cancer that took his digit and much of his sensation and movement. He wore a hat over his thinning hair that read ‘Vietnam Veteran’. Rare cancer, God only knows what he was exposed to there. He took to me and would greet me and discuss his condition even when I wasn’t assigned to him, “it’s miserable” looking to his hand “living like this”.
Everyone took him to be a problem. They accused him of being a drug addict and using the hospital like a hotel for room and board, as he would sneak off the unit to smoke, talk to vets, buy junk food, and tool around outside in his wheelchair. Doctors would discharge him and he’d come right back. No one believed the stories he gave that were enough to get him readmitted, essentially living in the hospital for months despite discharges.
In this post we reprint an article which appeared in the Workers Power column of The Industrial Worker newspaper in February 2008
Workers have been organizing at a low income reproductive health clinic for the past few months.
It all began when the company, which was on solid footing, had gone on a hiring spree and improved a lot of working conditions. The federal government began requiring any recipient of aid (the majority of our patients) to prove citizenship. Undocumented workers don’t actually need to strangely, all they need is to indicate that they’re permanent residents. The net effect on the industry has been to cut 30% of the funding to all low-income clinics generally. That is the real target of this federal assault, to cut social funding under the guise of racially based nationalist sentiments.