Bolton doctor's film on health care crisis garners national audience

BOLTON LANDING - Friday, the PBS television program Bill Moyers Journal aired segments of a documentary film examining perplexing aspects of the national health care crisis.

Excepts of the film, "Money-Driven Medicine," had been presented earlier on ABC's Nightline.

Local viewers were likely unaware that Bolton Landing's own Dr. Walter McConnell, a retired physician, conceived and produced the documentary.

Also, they may not have realized that a few scenes in the documentary were filmed in the Chestertown Health Center, featuring Dr. Dan Larson of parent organization Hudson Headwaters Health Network expressing his views on the health care crisis.

McConnell, who lives year-round on the shore of Lake George, is the executive producer of the documentary which details how health care in the U.S. has become expensive, is mired in bureaucracy and litigation, and has eroded the traditional doctor-patient relationship.

The documentary is headed for national release for showings in up to 14,000 theaters nationally, McConnell said Monday.

McConnell, who has personally experienced how health care has changed radically since the 1960s, said that a strong doctor-patient relationship - now threatened by the way medicine is controlled by corporations - is vital to providing effective care that promotes health.

He said Monday that the health care system in the U.S. showers money on HMO and health insurance executives and needless expenses, while offering low pay for primary-care doctors, a situation which has reduced their numbers dramatically.

The primary-care doctors are forced by this corporate-oriented medicine to provide cursory patient visitations which don't adequately protect a person's health, he said.

"We've got to get back to the old doctor-patient relationship, in which we have time to sit down together, conduct a proper exam, review a person's medical history, selectively order tests and referrals - and not order every single test because of liability," he said. "It's a matter of sharing a common bond, trusting each other and a doctor looking after a patients' wellness - keeping them healthy instead of seeing them only when they're sick."

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