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VCU Story Hits Home


I've taught as an adjunct instructor at Virginia Commonwealth University for seven years and, reading President Eugene Trani's recent mass e-mail to the VCU community condemning “Losing Patience” (Cover Story, April 8) as among other things informed by anecdotal evidence, I thought I'd supply yet another, apparently inconsequential tale of VCU Health System woe.

Last year I suffered a life-threatening bacterial infection and, having no health insurance whatsoever through Trani's university, sought help as an indigent person at the VCU Health System emergency room. For being sick and poor at the same time I was treated more or less like a criminal by the reception, medical and administrative staff, with whom I eventually insisted on speaking after a 10-hour wait in a room that looked like something from Dickens. Friends had to bring me food because I couldn't go to the cafeteria for fear of losing my place if my name were called in my absence. On the bright side: As an uninsured, emergency patient I was only charged $12,000 by VCU for a two-night stay in their luxurious accommodations. Really, VCU is altogether too generous.

Whether it's disavowing his romance with Philip Morris, making excuses for the VCU Police, delicately explaining the origins of dubious degrees, or just sending out teary eyed resignations, Trani's mass e-mails are a joy to read. Their rhetorical fancy footwork leaves one breathless. I wonder who writes them.

Having never been to the emergency room in my adult life, this experience really opened my eyes in so many ways, and has made me a much more politically conscious and empathetic person, and a better teacher.

Arney Turk, Richmond

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