Friday, March 28, 2014
Dr. Boutros, Rep. Fudge and Sec. Perez Highlight "Get Covered" Event
MetroHealth President and CEO Dr. Akram Boutros
hosted U.S. Representative Marcia Fudge and Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez before a standing-room only crowd at MetroHealth's West Dining Room today.
The trio was on hand to encourage Ohioans to sign up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline and to tour MetroHealth's "Enrollment on Wheels,"
a mobile unit that travels around Cuyahoga County enrolling residents in the health insurance marketplace. Following their tour of "Enrollment on Wheels" with Representative Fudge, Dr. Boutros and Secretary Perez took a separate tour of MetroHealth's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
"It's an honor for us to host U.S. Representative Fudge and Labor Secretary Perez for this timely and important topic," Dr. Boutros said. "We know that when people don't have health insurance, they don't get the care they deserve. They wait, they prolong, they hope that they are going to get better, and often, they don't and they have to come in. Every emergency that comes their way becomes a life-altering event, sometimes throwing them into bankruptcy."
Dr. Boutros noted that the highest cost of health care is associated with chronic conditions, and that the earlier the patients get chronic conditions taken care of, the better their results - both financially and medically.
Representative Fudge explained the event's location at MetroHealth with a reference to MetroHealth Care Plus
, which has signed approximately 30,000 previously uninsured residents up for health insurance since its inception.
"We're here at MetroHealth because of the tremendous outreach and the leadership it has provided to get people covered," Representative Fudge said. "When no one else thought this could work, MetroHealth did. They had a vision that most institutions did not have."
It was Lori Smith, however, whose husband has experienced frequent hospitalizations and surgeries since a partial knee replacement led to infection at another health system, who moved some in the audience to tears. When her husband, Patrick, was unable to return to work, they were kicked off of their old insurance plan and found refuge as patients at MetroHealth and as participants in MetroHealth's Care Plus plan. She credits Dr. Brendan Patterson
with saving his life.
"That was probably the biggest relief I had ever felt in my life because I had felt fine knowing that Patrick would be okay with Dr. Patterson and now I knew he was going to be okay being covered," Smith said. "I'm not ashamed to say, I sold my car so I could pay his medical bills. I sold my wedding ring. You do things you have to do and then you have Care Plus."
Now, though Patrick Smith continues to have medical problems, Lori knows he'll be okay.
"I'm incredibly worried, but I know he's going to be okay, because, one, he's here at Metro, and two, I don't have to worry about that extra bill," Lori Smith said. "I don't know what we'd do without it. I thank the good Lord that we happened upon it."
The press conference and tour were followed by an actual enrollment event at "Enrollment on Wheels" from Noon to 5 p.m. "Enrollment on Wheels" will be making further appearances this weekend
As Dr. Boutros hosted Representative Fudge and Secretary Perez in "Enrollment on Wheels," Representative Fudge turned his way for a quick comment.
"Without this hospital, I don't know where we'd be," Representative Fudge said.