A patient I'll call Linda Soto comes to my clinic every three months to discuss her diabetes, high blood pressure and depression.
Over the past two years, I've gotten to know Ms. Soto well. I know she has a bachelor's in business, she loves to dance and is active in her church. She is open and talkative, so time flies during our visits.
Today her blood pressure is higher than usual and I ask if everything is okay. She says she's anxious because she came straight from the unemployment office. Three years ago Ms. Soto was laid off from her job as an administrative assistant. Eventually high rents forced her out of her suburban house and into a studio apartment in a new neighborhood. She became socially isolated and depressed.
Finally last Christmas, she was hired as a seasonal employee at a local big box store. It was obvious she felt overqualified. "Well it's retail," she'd say. "But you gotta start somewhere, right?" She was determined to get hired full-time after the holidays.
Instead the store hired her as an "on-call" worker, meaning she works unpredictable hours at unpredictable times. Often her shifts fall on Sundays when she'd like to go to church. Some weeks she actually earns less than she would if she was collecting unemployment.