An 89-year-old woman walked 3,200 miles in 14 months for a cause she believed in — and then got herself hauled off to jail for reading the Declaration of Independence in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. If she could show up for her cause, suggests Kim Ankenbruck, RPh, what are we willing to do for ours?
I read with great interest the article “The political-medical complex” by Robert L. Mabee, Rph, JD, MBA, posted at the Drug Topics Blog on December 10, 2013.
I have spoken with Mr. Mabee on several occasions in the past year and value his opinion. His qualifications as a pharmacist, a lawyer, and an MBA, as well as his values and common-sense approach, made him a sustaining voice of reason as I tried to make sense of a profession that has been hijacked by the chains, the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical companies, and indeed, even our once-trusted academic institutions and state boards.
A bill of goods
In our profession, as in many other professions and occupations, those of us who do the actual work at ground level have no voice.
We have never been able to organize, we are afraid for our livelihoods, and we do not have the funds to influence and elect politicians who will represent us.
We took university faculty members at their word when they promised that the profession would soon be elevated above “count, pour, lick, and stick” and pharmacists would finally be acknowledged as the equals of other healthcare professionals.
We kept thinking that if we just held on and kept increasing our skills and working hard, that this dream would eventually materialize. All we needed was time.
Meanwhile, the chains and hospitals kept cutting back our support staff and increasing our responsibilities, ensuring that we remained exhausted and isolated by long hours, lack of breaks, and outlandish schedules.
Our compliant and people-pleasing personality styles, our extreme sense of responsibility, and our self-destructive work ethic have all taken a toll on our energy and self-esteem. We have become our own worst enemies.
Meanwhile, the big chains infiltrated our state boards of pharmacy, donated money to our colleges and universities, and accepted kickbacks from the pharmaceutical companies.
Staff and professionals at local hospitals and doctor’s offices became employees of huge corporations as their hospitals and medical complexes were bought out and swallowed up.
Medical decisions were increasingly dictated by insurance companies, P and T committees, and hospital administrators, as well as by the CEOs of the medical machine.
One woman’s choice
I’ve been reading a book titled “How to Live … A Search for Wisdom from Old People while They are Still on This Earth.” In it, I came across the story of Doris Haddock, aka “Granny D.” At the age of 89, Granny D. walked 3,200 miles in 14 months to support the McCain-Feingold bill, which sought to limit lobby-based, or “soft,” campaign financing.
Two months after finishing her walk, Granny D. was arrested, handcuffed, and taken to the police station for reading the Declaration of Independence aloud in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington D.C.
When she appeared before the judge two months later, she said:
“Your honor, the old woman who stands before you was arrested for reading the Declaration of Independence in America’s Capitol building. I did not raise my voice to do so, and I blocked no hall …. Your honor, we would never seek to abolish our dear United States. But alter it? Yes. It is our constant intention that it should be a government of, by, and for the people, not the special interests .… In my 90 years, this is the first time I have been arrested. I risk my good name, for I do indeed care what my neighbors think about me. But, your honor, some of us do not have much power, except to put our bodies in the way of justice — to picket, to walk, or to just stand in the way. It will not change the world overnight, but it is all we can do.”
Take a stand
The time will come when those of us who know what is going on will have to stand up.
Many of us are afraid. We have been disrespected and harassed. Our lives have been upended. Our self-esteem is in the toilet.
Those who have not been “excised” have been forced to endure brutal working conditions, threats, and ill treatment. District managers, store managers, and even some of our technicians spy on us, second-guess our decisions, and report us if we step out of line.
The public and other healthcare professionals treat us with disrespect, and we grovel and apologize in fear that we will lose our jobs.
We work on the ragged edge of control, hoping every day that we will not hurt or kill someone because of the pressure and stress.
And now there are rumors (and substantiated evidence) that our pay will be decreased and our hours reduced so that our employers do not have to provide us with benefits.
If you have not been shaken up or forced to change, your time is coming.
Those of us who have been forced to face the truth are out here. Our numbers are escalating. We are hurt and angry at what has happened to us.
Maybe it is time to unlock the golden handcuffs and make a leap of faith.