:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Tuesday, June 28, 2005  

Ultrasound Business Launched

The Topahkal Collaborative saw the birth of our Ultrasound business this past week. On saturday, June 25th, we did our first 6 ultrasounds, charging $75 per study. 2 were pregnancy dating ultrasounds (usual cost $250 or more). three were pelvic ultrasounds and one was a RUQ liver/gallbladder/kidney ultrasound (usual cost at least $500).

There was one interesting/frustrating glitch in the process. We had been verbally promised official Radiology backup from the University for $20 per ultrasound, which is a great price. They backed out at the last minute leaving us hanging dry with patients already scheduled. I called the major radiology groups in Albuquerque but they turned me down citing LIABILITY as their reason. a valid concern in a litiginous society based on fear and conflict escalation. we've put the word out and will cross our fingers - we are looking for a radiologist who isn't owned by a corporation or living in such profound fear that he or she cannot take on some reasonable risk. In the meantime, we plan to start with simpler studies that don't require Radiologists and do what we can.

We were blessed with a generous outpouring of private donations and grants, that allowed us to purchase the ultrasound machine outright. We received two substancial grants ($25,000 from the EMA foundation and $7,000 from the NM Conference of Churches) and donations from 37 private individuals who shall remain anonymous but well loved. Along with purchasing the machine, we also have a fund of $5,000.00 that we can use as scholarships for folks who are in financial distress. One of the patients seen on the first day for a prenatal dating ultrasound received the first scholarship already.

Same as with the clinic, instead of doing a sliding scale, we offer patients two possibilities which we feel are more honest, less invasive, less bureacratic for us, and more respecting of people's dignity. Folks can either make a payment plan after they receive the service, or they can receive a scholarship. the idea with the scholarship is that someone in financial distress can receive the care they need with no concern about having a debt. We let the patients know that if they are ever in a better financial position in life, they can consider contributing something back to the scholarship fund to help another person out who might be in the same situation. this has worked very well on the clinic end so far. i suspect part of what makes it work well is that our prices are affordable (human scaled) to begin with...

i'm not a parent so i may be well off the mark here, but i felt that day like i was going thru a birthing experience, at least emotionally. after working so hard for a year, bringing that machine to life for the first time was a sweet, scary, amazing, fear producing experience. i realized the day after how much stress i was carrying thruout that process and i owe a debt of gratitude to my friends and coworkers who handled my tension much better than i did.

on that note, in the next post, i would very much like to introduce the amazing people i am working with. i'll ask their permissions first.



posted by andru | 6/28/2005 09:30:00 PM | (0) comments |

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