SAN MATEO: Retired Doctors Volunteer Time
The doctors working at the Samaritan House clinic in San Mateo are "pioneers in a world of retirement," the New York Times reports. Ranging in age from 61 to 82, these retired professionals are giving their time and expertise -- at no charge -- to those in their community who are unable to afford health insurance. Much of the staff, including the radiologist, immunologist, nurses, translators, and even the handyman, are volunteers; only the medical director and administrator are salaried professionals. Marc Freedman, an expert on aging and author, said that Samaritan's volunteer physicians "are representatives for a new generation of older people who refuse to go quietly out to pasture, who are demanding a vital role in American life." But the staff say they are simply returning to a profession and life they love. One doctor said, "All my life I went to the office every day. I loved it. I loved relating to people. I love talking to people. I love helping people." These caregivers -- who retired at the top of their fields -- are practicing medicine "the way they were trained to practice half a century ago." Neurologist Dr. Leon Cohen, 72, said, "We're liberated from the compromises in modern medicine we used to make." He added that doctors are able to spend time getting to know their patients, saying, "If you're going to be arrogant enough to tell someone what to do, the least you could do is know about the conditions in which they're living." Samaritan House which is "not a business," but "pure medicine," does not worry about service fees. All the medical equipment was donated, and Mills-Peninsula Hospital does laboratory work and x-rays free of charge. The only start-up cost was a $30 state licensing application fee; private donations cover the liability insurance for the doctors and nurses. Internist Dr. Steve Marks, 76, said, "Sometimes I think we should be paying the clients for what we get out of this. There's a feeling I have about being a doctor, I can't explain it." A colleague continued for him saying, "It's who we are" (Rimer, New York Times, 12/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.