I learned from my dad what our nation's health care system should be – available to anyone, regardless of income – not the get-rich-quick gaming of taxpayer-financed programs that makes our medical industry system the most expensive, with the sorriest results, in the world.
Dr. Melvin Rackleff took Hippocrates seriously. He was a general practitioner and the only doctor in Depression-era Clayton, Ill. He treated everyone in need, whether they could pay or not.
My dad had been a U.S. Navy Pharmacist’s Mate (now Corpsman) in World War I, decided to become a doctor, and worked his way through Chicago Medical School until he graduated in 1927. Our home in Clayton had no indoor plumbing, a wood stove for cooking, and only partial electricity; we had only one car.
After serving his community for 15 years, Dr. Rackleff was drafted in 1942 as a U.S. Army doctor and served in field hospitals in England during World War II, treating mass casualties from our invasion of France and drive toward Germany. He stayed in the Army after the war until retiring in 1958, and became a Veterans Administration doctor in Winston-Salem, NC for the next 10 years.
Even after he retired to Dunedin, Florida, he continued to read every issue of the AMA Journal and regularly attended lectures on medical advances at the local hospital. He died at age 95. He was a good provider but never rich. I wear his medical school class ring every day to remind of how to live a useful life of dignity and service.