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APhA CEO Blog

Steve French is the reason primary care needs reform

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August 10, 2009

We lost a friend on Friday. Steve French was a hard working, good human being from Ripley in my home state of West Virginia. He managed a farm, took care of his family, and together with his wife and daughter, was raising two nephews because he loved them and it was the right thing to do.

Steve had an ache in his leg that should have been seen by a doctor. He died of a likely heart attack. Any pharmacist, nurse, or physician who talked with him would probably have insisted he get checked out. But no one had a chance to offer that advice. He didn't have health insurance and didn't want to burden anyone, so he just lived with the pain.

His family and friends will miss him, but we need to learn from his death. Let's recommit to building a collaborative system that assures hard workers like Steve that they will have a home in our health care system. Let's be more accessible as pharmacists and make it obvious so people don't wonder any more whether it's OK to bother the pharmacist who looks too busy. Let's not let the lessons of Steve's death go unheeded.