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I recently traveled to Scotland on vacation. My second day there, I woke up with symptoms of conjunctivitis. Our group’s tour guide directed me to the A & E (Accident and Emergency, the equivalent of our E.R.) at the local hospital. He assured me they would be able to see me, even though I wasn’t a Scottish citizen.

When I arrived at the hospital, the staff member at the window asked how he could help. I told him my story. He asked me for my name, address and date of birth. That’s it.

Standing next to him the whole time was another man in scrubs who had listened to my story. He was the nurse and asked me to follow him.

Within 15 minutes, I had met with a nurse and a doctor, who made the diagnosis and gave me an antibiotic gel to apply to my eyes. When I returned to the front window, the gentleman there wished me a pleasant trip and a speedy recovery. When I asked him how much I owed, he said: “Oh, there’s no charge. Isn’t having to come to the A & E stressful enough?”

This is part of Britain’s National Health Service: No charge for emergency care. What a different experience I would have had visiting the E.R. anywhere in the U.S.

Why couldn’t we rise to the same level of civilization here? Free E.R. for all would be a great start on the road to dignity and respect for all human beings.