Doctor’s power might just be paradox

Published 1:06 am Sunday, April 13, 2008

English class was always boring to me. I liked reading and writing enough, but some of the nuances and grammatical restrictions just annoyed me.

Many of you who’ve seen grammatical errors in my weekly column can attest to the fact that I should have paid more attention in English class.

So it’s no surprise that a few highlights of what I’ll refer to as “good” English and literature lessons stand out from my public high school days.

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One of my favorites was the discussion of paradoxes. That’s a fancy word; a friend would call it a 50-cent word.

A paradox is a statement that seems true, yet contradicts itself.

“If God can do anything, can he create a rock so large that he cannot pick up?”

As a high schooler, that sort of boggled my pimpled head.

Interestingly, despite an unshaken faith in the Father, it’s still an interesting thing to consider.

That paradox came back to me a week or so ago, ironically, when someone was talking about one of the biggest issues facing our community right now — the future of Natchez Regional Medical Center.

Buried in debt, poor management decisions and a short-term cash flow problem the public hospital is on the verge of bankruptcy.

In fact, that’s probably not strong enough. The hospital is going to file bankruptcy, but the paperwork just isn’t finished.

Last week, in discussing the hospital’s woes with a reader, the person said something to the effect that too many local doctors had god complexes.

That’s the not-so-pretty phrase some people use to describe physicians who may think they’re better than others because of the amazing, life-saving work they do.

Somehow in my head that phrase, god complexes, began rolling around with the old paradox.

Could a group of people with god complexes build something so big that they can’t pick it up?

First, most physicians I’ve met in the area — men, women, young, old, black, white — are just like the rest of us. Sure, they may earn a good living, but most of them work hard, fear and respect the only true God and send their children to T-ball and soccer like everyone else.

So the god-complex label might be overstated hype.

But what kind of powers do the physicians really have, I thought.

Essentially, physicians aren’t god-like at all — at least in terms of Natchez Regional’s future, or any large changes in the face of healthcare in the region.

They are, essentially, ants.

That’s correct, they’re ants, at least by themselves.

Lone-wolf ants can’t really get much done. Sure, they might bite you and put a little hurt on you, but they’re virtually powerless by themselves.

Group them together, however, and massive construction projects can get done. Leave a group of ants alone for a bit and watch how much of a mound they can create.

Working together, ants can mow through work.

So what would happen if our local doctors joined forces?

Could their collective support of one hospital force another out of business?

Could their combined power decide the shape of healthcare in the future?

All good questions that take me back to a bend on the original paradox.

Can Natchez-area physicians hold the power to truly change the face of healthcare, whenever and however they wish, but not be able to see it?

Kevin Cooper is publisher of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3539 or