Monday, June 11, 2007

Heartless or Pragmatic?

A Nashville woman seemingly has to choose between her family's financial well-being and a distant relative's health.
Pam Melson, who works at a Nashville-area clothing factory, would like to donate a kidney to someone at the far end of her family tree. The challenge is that the procedure would require her to miss quite a bit of work, and her employer is unwilling to guarantee that her job will still be there for her when she returns.
My first thought was that FMLA would apply, but that turned out not to be the case. Exacerbating the issue is that, by her own admission, Ms Melson has "missed more than a month of work this year, mostly to care for her three children when they were sick." Seems like she's got a few more issues than cousin Donnie (Hammack).
Cost of care doesn't seem to be an issue: Medicaid (i.e. you and me) is paying for the procedure. The challenge is really about job security. Does an employer have an obligation to hold someone's job who simply wants to play Good Samaritan?
And this isn't about nationalized health care, either: the gummint is already paying both Ms Melmick's and her cousin's med bills for the transplant.
For me, the key was this sentence: "Dr. Mark A. Wigger said Hammack could probably survive for another five years without a transplant." There's nothing particularly urgent about this, so I'm curious why Ms Melmick appears so bitter. I happen to think transplants are a great thing, and I applaud her altruism in wanting to help her cousin. But she also claims that she's "her family's sole financial provider....(and) can't afford to risk her job."
Seems to me, charity begins at home.
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