Lex Hinkley is a 27-year-old nurse based in San Diego — and their frustration with American healthcare recently made waves when they posted a passionate TikTok rant that perfectly sums up everything that's wrong with our system.
She starts the video by saying, "It is virtually impossible to be a ethical healthcare worker in this extremely unethical healthcare system. The amount of times I've had to discharge patients back to situations where I knew they weren't going to be able to take care of themselves but I had no other options, is truly too hard to even give a number to. If my career as a healthcare worker has done anything to my worldview or life, it has simply radicalized me further than anyone could believe."
Then they share a really upsetting story that perfectly illustrates how for-profit healthcare puts money over patients' lives and dignity: "I've seen varying levels of this happen at every single hospital I've worked at. I've been a nurse for four years. I've worked in seven states. It is happening everywhere, and if you think your hospital is different, you're fucking wrong. Recently, as of December, hospitals in Louisville, Kentucky, came under fire for leaving patients outside on fucking sidewalks."
She continues, "They do this in front of shelters. They will drop patients off in front of shelters just like this, but sometimes they don't even take them to the shelter. They literally leave them right outside the hospital. This specific patient was left in this condition in 36-degree weather." When the local news outlet WAVE was alerted, it staked out the hospital and observed several more patients being left outside with no resources.
When a stabilized ER patient who needs more care is essentially kicked to the curb like this, it's called patient dumping. This practice is not isolated to the Kentucky hospital Lex mentioned. In just a quick Google News search, I found news reports about patient dumping in San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Colorado Springs, Colorado, all within the last year.
Patients who are uninsured, low income, or experiencing homelessness are at the highest risk of being dumped.
Next, Lex connects the dots between incidents of patient dumping and the gutting of the American social safety net: "When you defund social programs, it all ends up in the ER. When you defund senior care, when you defund psychiatric care, when you defund shelters, whether it's homeless shelters, women's shelters, when you defund the safety nets that our society needs to prevent people from beginning a crisis downward spiral, they end up in the ER."
They add, "And simply put, ER workers and hospital workers are already at their fucking wits' end. We cannot act as a catchall for every single issue in society, and yet, we are, here we are doing it. And at the very fucking same time, treating people like literal fucking garbage should never fucking happen."
Finally, Lex urges our country to start putting money back into social services: "The only way to fix situations as unethical and disgusting as this from happening is to fund solutions. We need to fund proper safety nets for our society. In this country, if you lose your job, you lose your health insurance, you potentially lose all of your income, which means you're not going to be able to pay rent. Well, then, what happens if you get sick? Do you see what I'm saying? We don't have safety nets for our poor in this country. We have a greased chute, and at the very bottom of that greased chute of poverty is a trip to your local emergency room because everything ends up in the ER, and then we have nowhere to place people."
She continues, "There are solutions for these problems, but they cost money. They cost money. And we as a society, have said that we're A-OK with 400 people having 70% of the nation's wealth while our community members get treated like this."
And that's just a sample of what Lex had to say. You can watch the full video here:
@travelingnurse / Via tiktok.com