Today NPR had a story called "How Oregon is getting 'frequent fliers' out of the ER." Basically, the idea is that if someone visits the emergency room often, a social worker will take that person's case and help the patient with some underlying needs. In the example given, the patient was homeless. The social worker bought him shoes, a pillow, and a sleeping bag, and then eventually got him into housing.
There's an attitude in this country which would cause people to say, "The hospital shouldn't be buying people shoes. If you spend money on anything but medical care, you are mis-using your funds."
But the care the social worker gives reduces the number of times the patients visit the emergency room. The net result is that the hospital spends less money.
This ties in with my recent post "Violence prevention." In my post "Stewardship," I raised the question of where do I want to focus my efforts. Which specific aspects of caring for my community and the earth are my unique calling? It seems to me that my calling has to do with prevention, with building something positive, with reducing the need for things like emergency room visits and prisons.