Humans of Right Care: Mary O’Connor Mack

Mary at an RCA protest

“I learned that healthcare was often unfair when I was training to be an operating room technician. It was the year 1999 and—based on my experience—I saw that patient care could be unequal along the demographics. For example, women’s concerns were often dismissed more than men’s, people of higher socioeconomic status were given more respect and better explanations, and it seemed the elderly were cared for less carefully than younger people. Doctors in training were frequently given more responsibility than they could handle; moreover they felt they couldn’t ask for help without appearing incompetent. I observed this phenomenon of a teaching hospital several times while scrubbed in. Furthermore, attending physicians were not often physically present in the OR—attending. I lost all my naivety about how hospital systems worked.

Soon after I completed my OR tech training, I developed a serious and complex heart problem, which steadily progressed to heart failure, and It was then, as a patient, that I entered the labyrinth of the US healthcare system. I fully experienced many of the same patient scenarios that I had previously witnessed as an OR scrub tech.

Currently, it is well known that healthcare in the USA is astoundingly unequal. Having health insurance no longer ensures that care and needed medicines are affordable. Insulin price-gouging and the subsequent rationing deaths prompted me to join Boston’s Right Care Alliance, in hopes of organizing with others and helping to force change in the USA. So far I think we are making a difference because our actions have been in the news and influential people are paying attention.

I am optimistic and hopeful that change will happen in the near future, and we need to keep the pressure on. If you are reading this and are considering joining the RCA, do it. Healthcare can no longer remain a privilege of only the wealthier US population. A health system designed around privilege is unethical and barbaric. Please Join the Right Care Alliance and help to shine a big light that compels legislative change to ensure we all finally have an absolute right to Right Care in the USA.”

Welcome to “Humans of Right Care,” our new blog series inspired by the photojournalism project, Humans of New York. We want our members to be able to tell their stories about why they fight for right care, and get to know each other through these stories. We spend so much time working on campaigns to help others, but we can’t forget that all of us are people with our own stories of self. Let’s take some time to share them!

“What was the moment when you realized that greed and dysfunction in the health care system was a serious problem? What was the moment you decided to fight back? Are you hopeful things can change? If so, where does this hope come from?” 

These are the questions that inspired Alicia Tran, Chris Noble, and Mary Mack to share their stories. If you want to tell your own story in pictures and words, to be published on the RCA site and social media, email for more details.