Q Fever! Medical Humor & Satire

June 28, 2000 | Volume 1, Issue 2

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HMO To Employ Marmoset Monkeys As Healthcare Providers

Nimble primates cost-effective, quick learners

LOUISVILLE, KY—Harmona Healthcare, one of the nation's leading managed care providers, announced today that it would employ specially trained marmoset monkeys to provide care to plan members.

HMO enrollees would have 24-hour-a-day access to the monkeys, which will be kept in centrally located clinic-pens in several U.S. cities, including Louisville KY, Jacksonville FL, Abilene TX, and Cincinatti OH.

Dr. Reese Sussman,
one of Harmona's
new providers

The lovable tree-dwellers will be authorized to manage a variety of illnesses, including respiratory and urinary tract infections, low back pain, headache, and gout. They will also perform low-risk obstetrics. However, Harmona spokesman Richard Leikie has stated that the marmosets would not be authorized to perform surgical procedures "for at least the next few months".

"Harmona has every confidence that these specially trained monkeys will provide low-cost, high quality care", said Leikie, though he acknowledged that some plan members might put off by the monkeys' strong odor, or the fact that they use their fingers and toes interchangeably.

A Walk-In Patient Is Treated

"We understand that some of our plan members have become accustomed to having healthcare providers who belong to the same species as they do. And that's only natural. But we're convinced that once they see these little critters in action, all of those prejudices are going to melt away."

According to Leikie, Harmona has employed the tiny monkeys for years in administrative positions, where they have proved adept at deciding whether or not the HMO should authorize medical treatments for plan members.

Harmona employed Squeaky, the famous tic-tac-toe playing chicken, in a similar role until the bird's unexpected death last year at age 13. Leikie stated that employing the chicken as a care provider was never considered, as its talons made an adequate physical examination "an impossibility".

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