A relative of mine recently was in a hospital, then was moved to a care facility. My wife joined other relatives one day keeping him company and waiting for the doctor so they could ask questions. They waited hours.

“How’s it going?” I texted her. “We’ve seen the therapy dog more than the doctor,” she texted back.

The health care system in the United States is broken.

Insurance companies deny tests and treatments recommended by doctors. They cut reimbursements, forcing doctors to see more patients. They require so much data that some doctors look at their laptops instead of their patients while they talk.

Pharmaceutical companies charge hundreds or thousands of dollars for a pill they can manufacture for pennies. Sick people die while the CEO smirks before Congress. They develop drugs solely to make as much money as possible, and they play games with patents to stop cheaper generic versions of drugs from coming to market.

No one knows what anything costs. Ask your doctors how much a drug or a test will cost and they will answer with some variation of: “I have no idea. The girls up front might know.” Providers will charge one patient 10 times more than another for the same thing, depending on what deal was negotiated beforehand with which insurance company.

This mess makes us forget the many things we have to be thankful for with regard to health and wellness.

Doctors today have the power to remove an organ such as a liver or a kidney from one person’s body and transplant it into someone else, extending that person’s life for years. For this issue of Pinal Ways, we spoke to county residents who have experienced this magic, either as a donor or a recipient, and we share their stories. It will make you grateful this is possible in case someone you love needs a transplant. Hopefully it will also make you want to register as a donor.

We like to incorporate a historical perspective into our coverage of the county. The town of Florence’s 130-year hospital saga is fascinating. It will remind you there was a time in which hospitals operated with no running water, and that a snake might crawl under a door into a birth delivery room.

Programs that invite foreign-born doctors to ease the shortage in designated rural areas have benefited Arizona, including Pinal County. In this issue we also take a look at a naturopathic approach to health, the power of hypnosis to change people’s lives, and a movement that combines yoga with 12-step addiction programs.

Keep this Pinal Ways to read when you’re at a hospital or your doctor’s office. You might be stuck there for a while. | PW