If you are on Facebook or an email list, you have probably already seen the photo circulating of the handsome, young emergency room doctor in green scrubs, along with his letter to the editor addressing the issue of government-mandated health care.
A quick search found that Dr. R. Starner Jones is real and is a "seventh generation Mississippian and his extracurricular interests are golf, hunting, fishing and college football. He specializes in emergency medicine at The University of Mississippi medical Center."
Dr. Jones probably had no idea when he wrote that letter in August 2009 that more than a year later, in the heated debate that continues to swirl around government-mandated health care, it would go viral through emails and on Facebook. That is exactly what has happened although, as is the case with many viral forwards, the letter has been changed a bit from the original version.
The original intent, however, remains the same as verified by Snopes and Truth or Fiction. As an emergency room physician, Dr. Jones makes an observation about the health care "crisis" in this country as someone who is on the front lines of health care.
The letter first crossed my desk in emails circulated months ago but in the past two weeks it has seen new life as it hit the pages of Facebook with everyone from friends to a local elected official agreeing and passing it along.
Here is Dr. Jones' original letter, published in the August 29, 2009, Clarion, Mississippi Ledger:
Dear Sirs:The unauthorized revised version has changed "Dear Sirs" to "Dear Mr. President," indicating it was sent to the White House which is not the case. Some of the body content was also changed as noted in this Facebook version making the rounds:
During my last night’s shift in the ER, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient with a shiny new gold tooth, multiple elaborate tattoos, a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and a new cellular telephone equipped with her favorite R&B; tune for a ring tone.
Glancing over the chart, one could not help noticing her payer status: Medicaid.
She smokes more than one costly pack of cigarettes every day and, somehow, still has money to buy beer. And our President expects me to pay for this woman’s health care?
Our nation’s health care crisis is not a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. It is a crisis of culture – a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on vices while refusing to take care of one’s self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.
A culture that thinks I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me.
Life is really not that hard. Most of us reap what we sow.
Starner Jones, MD
Dear Mr. President:It was followed by the message, "If you agree ... pass it on." America has done just that ... passed it on.
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.
While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one pack of cigarettes every day, eats only at fast-food take-outs, and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer.
And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care? I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture" a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance.
It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me". Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.
ROGER STARNER JONES, MD
However, there are those who have taken exception to Dr. Jones' thoughts including this blogger who took the time to respond but didn't take the time to look it up and realize she was responding to the revised letter, not the original. Would her thoughts have changed? Possibly not. Hers was a "feel-good" approach to what Dr. Jones sees as a real-life, practical problem. If the answer is to buy ourselves into feeling good, as indicated by the blogger, what happens when the money runs out?
Just as the health care bill caused vigorous debate in this country, Dr. Jones' letter has encouraged a dialogue that continues six months after health care was passed against the wishes of the majority of the American people, and even as polls show most are still against it. Those who were against the forced health care bill may take their anger to the polls and be the cause of a shift in Congress in November.