Every city is a space ship on a voyage.
In the Star Trek universe, we came to know and love the Constitution class ship named the Enterprise. It was a large space going city with food courts, storage compartments, crew quarters, exercise rooms, and a hospital. All of this plus the engines, bridge, engineering decks, science stations, and weapons stations. It all came into play as a means to take the crew to those unexplored regions of the galaxy. As they explored, crew personnel sprained ankles, caught colds, and suffered burns and other injuries. To keep the citizens and inhabitants of the star ship healthy — the sick bay was created.
Modern hospitals and clinics serve the needs of a cities population. On a day to day basis there are sprains, breaks, burns, and tooth aches to care for. Car accidents, house fires, violence, and sporting accidents all contribute a need for various levels of emergency and urgent care. To meet these needs, the modern medical facility has an Emergency Room, an urgent care clinic, and doctor’s offices for less urgent yet still important services. All of these are located through out the city.
In our cities, we have these great complexes of buildings which are hard to navigate and sometimes difficult to get to. The level of care can dictate how and where a person is taken to receive care. Just as I was taken after my accident to a given hospital based on a rotating list; the facility for care can be dictated by who accepts a given insurance group or company. To get to these places which provide medical services; a person may need to drive for more than 10 minutes. Once the person is there, it may be many hours before the initial exam of the patient is even made. All of this is contradictory to the Star Trek model of care. On a star ship, the sick bay is readily accessible and the medical personnel are quick to reach those in need of emergency care.
For myself, I endured a long process to be seen by a doctor to diagnose my injuries. In the hours after my accident where my bicycle was hit at slow speed by a turning car; I lay flat on my back in the emergency room bed. I was not allowed to sit up or move because they believed I could have a serious neck injury. I had to wait for CT scans to be ordered, for clearances to be made, and for more urgent patients to be cared for. All of that time, while I was looking at the white tile ceiling, there was no monitoring of my vitals, no nurses checking on my condition. All I had were curtains and no call button.
What I see after this experience is a need to improve how we distribute our medical care resources. I see a need to improve the wards where patients are evaluated and cared for. In my opinion, we are not optimizing our resources through use of a shared facility for multiple patients. Yes, shared equipment, rooms, equipment, and personnel can reduce the cost of care. However, each piece of equipment, each bed, and each medical professional can only serve so many patients in an eight hour period. I see a need to create a network of clinics through out a city as a means to improve availability and to improve the ability of the medical services to survive emergencies and disaster events.
I see a possible world where it is the rule and not the exception for someone to find a clinic within 10 blocks of where ever they may be in a city. I see the possibility of walk in clinics where all insurances are accepted, all injuries are accepted, and the patient is placed in an empty bed within minutes of entering the clinic. I see the possibility of shared data bases, shared expenses, and a model of business that sees each clinic as part of one large facility spanning a city rather than just a few blocks of towering medical wings. I see the possibility of change…all is needed is the will to “make it so.”