By Philip Caper, M.D.

Dr. Margaret Flowers of Maryland, one of our nation’s most prominent advocates for single-payer health reform, visited Maine May 9-11. Her two-and-a-half day visit was sponsored by Maine AllCare, the Maine chapter of PNHP, and was prompted by the May 10 unveiling of her portrait and that of longtime PNHP national coordinator Dr. Quentin Young, painted by Maine artist and social activist Rob Shetterly as part of his series “Americans Who Tell The Truth.”

The unveiling was held at the Portland Public Library, and was kicked off by Portland Mayor Michael Brennan. The event was co-sponsored by 21 additional Maine organizations, and was attended by about 125 people from around the state.

Margaret’s visit started Wednesday evening when she attended Occupy Maine’s general assembly and potluck supper. Thursday began with a radio interview of Margaret by former Green Party vice-presidential candidate Pat La Marche on WZON-AM’s “The Pulse Morning Show.” Margaret then gave pediatric grand rounds at the Maine Medical Center, followed by a meeting with Portland Press Herald editorial writer Greg Kasich. She then conducted a “lunch and learn” session with about 100 medical students at the University of New England in Biddeford. Following the luncheon session, Margaret was interviewed for Public Access TV for southern Maine.

These events were followed by a rally in Portland’s Monument Square attended by 60 or so Occupy Maine and labor activists, the portrait unveiling with an address by Dr. Flowers (a video of Margaret’s remarks is available here) and a dinner with Maine AllCare board members and invited guests.

Friday started off with a panel discussion held at the headquarters of the Maine Medical Association which was co-sponsored by Maine AllCare and the Maine Health Policy Study Group, a group of Maine physicians interested in health policy. The panel, titled “Beyond Patient Care: The Role of Physicians in Health Care Policy,” comprised four physicians, one a member of the Legislature. The panel discussion was attended by around 25 physicians — and one lobbyist from Johnson and Johnson. It was recorded in full (as was the rally and unveiling the previous night) by Patty Wight, a reporter from the statewide Maine Public Broadcasting Network. Margaret and I were interviewed by Patty following the panel. Patty’s coverage resulted in a nice segment on MPBN Friday evening.

Margaret then recorded a video interview for Rob Shetterly who explained why he selected her and Dr. Young for his “Americans Who Tell The Truth” series (Americanswhotellthetruth.org).

Following that, Margaret, Rob Shetterly and I video-recorded a roundtable discussion conducted by Garrett Martin, CEO of the Maine Center for Economic Policy (one of the sponsors of the unveiling), that will be repeated six times in the next two weeks, and carried on Time-Warner cable. It is estimated to reach 300,000 Maine households.

Margaret and I then stopped by the Lewiston Sun-Journal for a briefing of their editor and health care reporter before she caught her flight out to Detroit.

Quite a couple of days. I think we made an impression. There is more information about the visit on our website www.maineallcare.org.