I'm a nurse on a small OB/GYN unit. we get a variety of families who deliver their babies at our hospital. recently, i had a couple who were not married, and just had a baby, (which happens quite frequently). the new mom was unemployed, on medicaid and welfare. however, in the room, the boyfriend (also unemployed) had a laptop computer, an Mp3 player, top of the line cell phone, and the new mom had her finger nails and toe nails professionally manicured. they live together, "unofficially." when asked if they would like to sign paternity papers, which is protocol for unmarried couples, the dad said no. his reasoning was they could receive more help from the state if they didn't... meaning he would not have to pay child support as she would be on welfare, receive money, food stamps, WIC, etc... from the state to live on. i try not to be judgemental. i also know for a fact that with any good program created to assist the needy, there will always be people who find a way to take advantage of it to receive everything they can, for free. they feel entitled, as if the world OWES them, rather than taking steps to better themselves and achieve self sufficiency. it's supposed to be a temporary support, not a lifestyle of choice. unfortunately, there are those that settle for that type of lifestyle. consequently, i find myself in an emotional and moral dilemma. i don't know what i can do to be a patient advocate, when inside i feel like saying "if you need money so bad, why don't you start by selling your electronics.... you are milking the system."
people do get judged harshly when they are on assistance. i think it is unfair to categorize all those who need help, and place them in a predetermined category which denotes "losers" and "users" such as this family. but i myself have walked in those shoes. i KNOW what it's like to go to food pantries, stand in line for "TOYS FOR TOTS" at Christmas, be the recipient of charities, and have to live in shabby low income housing, because my husband left us when i was pregnant with our fourth child. and i had to jump through the hoops of the welfare system just to survive. i have been there, done that! but i could not settle for a welfare life for me and my children, after growing up that way and knowing the hardships it entails. the problem is, i don't know how to displace the anger i feel when i encounter a situation such as this. they seem content to live how they are living. i took the pain of my divorce and used it as a catalyst to motivate myself to strive for a better life for the kids and i, by going to college and attaining a degree.
as a professional, how can i best help people like these, as they are my patients? do i just shrug them off....? i do not want to enable them. i do not want to judge them. but what does one do when they are not willing to help themselves.....