Saturday, March 05, 2011

Sign the Civility Pledge | Coffee Party

Sign the Civility Pledge | Coffee Party

Helicopters and Hospital Wars

The hospital behind my house has been taken over by one of the biggest hospitals in the country. It has a helipad that was used for emergency landing by the five major hospital systems in the area, until now. Now that well lit helipad is the base for the Cleveland Clinic helicopter, exclusively and the other helicopters have to use the parking lot, "the other helipad". You can see it in the picture behind the orange cones. There is a hospital war going on in my neighborhood. All of the hospitals are placing facilities here because people in this county have insurance and money to pay for expensive care. Within a few miles of my house, I will soon have dozens of doctors offices, an urgent care, and three hospitals. For my view of what's happening here. Check out It might explain why our health care costs are going up. These duplicate facilities are cheap to build.

While helicopters are needed in emergency situations, they do crash more frequently than airplanes. This particular helipad is way to close to residential areas and people coming and going in the parking lot! The other helipad/parking lot is surrounded by trees and buildings and it is dark at night. There is also an unlit cell tower in the path.

This video was taken from my backyard just before the helicopter lifted off.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Ohio's Senate Bill 5

I have been a teacher for well over 3o years in Ohio, and I see the passage of this latest bill is a huge insult to all of us in the profession. Yes, teaching IS a profession and we are professionals. We do not deserve to be treated like children who are naughty and need our fingers smacked to keep us out of the cookie jar. Policemen, firemen, social workers are professionals too. As far as that is concerned, NO ONE who works for a living should be denied the right to organize and strike if they feel it is necessary to improve their working conditions or get a decent wage for their labor. This bill is a slap in the face to just about everyone.

Teachers are expected to do a multitude of things that used to be the job of parents, churches, communities, and the "private sector" as well as raise test scores and maintain discipline. Now we are being blamed for state deficits. The claim seems to be that PUBLIC EMPLOYEES are greedily robbing everyone else of their "HARD" earned money, and that the taxes we pay (public employees pay them too) are going into the pockets and pension plans of teachers, police officers, social workers, firefighters, EMTs , nurses, etc. If THEY didn't demand so much, we wouldn't have these deficits and this big government. Privatize education and get rid of the unions and everything would be just hunky dory.

Well, sometimes you get what you ask for, and the proponents of this bill may very well get two systems of education in this country, the private one and the public one. Then if they want their children to attend a good school, they can pay for it out of their own pockets. If you can't pay for the good school, your child will get public schools that are poorly funded with over crowded classrooms and poorly trained teachers. Certainly, this bill will make young people think more than twice about going into debt $20,000 or more to enter this profession. The same is true for police officers, firefighter, EMTs, social workers. Those veteran teachers who are hanging on after they could retire, mentoring young teachers, teaching education courses for little pay as a part-time job, or working part-time or as substitutes will quit. Then we will see how the law of supply and demand works in the public sector. I remember when we have had teacher shortages, especially in the fields where there is the most demand. Merit pay is going to fix this they think, but I don't know how you determine the merit of someone who can wipe the noses of a class full of kindergartners with a smile, or patiently explain for the 40th time in one day how to solve an equation or create a citation in a term paper. I would love to see any of those legislators who passed this bill spend one month in a classroom. If they say they have been there, then I would like to know why they left.

Republican leadership at both the state and national level has refused to even consider raising taxes to pay for the debt. Yet, the debt is so large that no amount of cutting will keep it in check. Why? Because, they say, " If we increase taxes, we will slow job growth and the economy." Well, if the bill passes, they have just given a tax increase in the form of pay cuts and increased insurance premiums to a lot of people. This takes money out of the economies of local communities, not only hurting the public employees, but those who depend on the purchases made by these employees. Schools and safety services have already been cut until they can't bleed anymore. Yet, they are expected to find more cuts.

The Tea Party groups have made taxes the issue, but I think we need to look elsewhere for the root of the problem. I pay about 30% of my income in taxes and health related insurance premiums, about evenly divided between the two. My pension fund pays some of my insurance as well, and my husband is on medicare. Then the government is using a large chunk of what we pay in taxes to pay for health care for the elderly and those who don't have health care. Then if we become ill, we pay a deductible and about 20% of the costs in addition to the money going from our income to pay for insurance and the taxes. Duh! Gee, I wonder why our taxes are so high? Then you can look at the banks, auto companies, stock and housing speculators this country has bailed out and the two wars we are paying to fight that IMHO we shouldn't have gotten into anyway, the wealthy who are hiding their money off shore, the underground drug and illegal worker economy that is the one of the largest businesses in the US, pays no taxes, sucks up a lot of tax money trying to stop it, and corrupt politicians that are stealing our tax money and failing to pay taxes themselves. I can think of lots of ways to solve the deficit problem.

But Republicans don't really want to solve it, they couldn't blame it on the unions anymore. There wouldn't be anything for Glen Beck to talk about and the Mother Grizzly would have to go back to Alaska instead of leading tea party rallies. Politics just wouldn't be politics if we actually tried to SOLVE the problems. No, lets just blame it on the public employees and if they don't like it, -----

Maybe they should run for office and throw the bums out! Haven't we been here before?

Ohio State - Political Cartoons
"Uncle Sam Walks the Plank." eHistory @ The Ohio State University. last visited (March 04, 2011)

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Egypt and other "Allies"

"It is a tragic mix-up when the United States spends $500,000 for every enemy soldier killed, and only $53 annually on the victims of poverty."- Martin Luther King Jr.

So the people of Egypt are demanding freedom and jobs! That is what most of us want, freedom to express ourselves, some control over our lives and the means to live; enough to eat, money to care for our families, education for our children, health care. Oh yes, I forgot to mention clean water. Most of us don't demand to live in luxury, but we do like some security and comfort. The United States spends billions of dollars every year on arms for our "allies", training for their soldiers and maintains a "balance of power" in strategic areas of the world. Often we arm the very countries that will later have revolutions and use the arms we have given them against us,their neighbours or against their own people when they demand the freedom we say America supports. Egypt gives us cause for reflection on American foreign policy. The tear gas lobbed at the protesters was made in America and the dictator they are protesting against is the one we supported. We fear the arms we gave them getting into the "wrong" hands. Perhaps we should reflect on the words of Dr. King and give the kind of aid to citizens in other nations that we would like to receive if we were in their place. I believe in the golden rule, and I would prefer bread to bullets any day of the week. Power to the people of Egypt! If the wrong people gain control, we have only ourselves to blame. It is hard to do much damage with a meal or a job that will provide for a family. People who are employed and well fed tend to avoid revolution. On the other hand, people armed and hungry tend to use their weapons against someone. It is time to change our foreign aid to something we and the rest of the world will find palatable.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Medical Monopoly

I haven't written on this site for quite some time. Interestingly my last post was on health care and that is what has prompted me to write again. This time it was a helicopter buzzing for 15 min. several times a day just a few yards from my backyard that prompted me to examine what was going on with health care in my own community.

It isn't so much the noise and the fact that it vibrates my windows, but the motivation of the institution that has their helicopter stationed here that bothers me. I have lived here 26 years behind the helipad and never once complained. Medical helicopters save lives. We all know that.

But this was a community hospital before the Cleveland Clinic Foundation bought it out and the helipad was available to all of the medical helicopters in the area, 5 by my count within 30 miles of Medina. None of them were stationed here in a residential section of town with little space for expansion. Flights were from the hospital out to trauma centers or to the CCF or University,Rainbow babies and Akron Children's Hospital. The helipad served Medina and the surrounding area. The CCF helicopter will be going from Medina out to pick up patients within a 250 mile radius and returning to Medina to sit on the helipad awaiting an emergency call from either our hospital or another Ohio hospital, maybe even from neighbouring states.

Now maybe I am just a cynic, but it appears the Cleveland Clinic is attempting to create a health care monopoly, not only in the Cleveland area, but expanding South with their purchase and plans for Medina General Hospital. They are avoiding creating new facilities or closing services in the costly areas of the inner cities where citizens often have no health care or are on government provided plans like Medicare or Medicaid, and instead gobbling up hospitals that would strategically place them where there are many wealthy suburbanites with health insurance. They will leave the trauma care to the likes of Metro and Akron General while taking away their competitions' most lucrative patient base with competing facilities linked to the CCF.

Trauma is expensive for hospitals.
"Individual trauma centers are historically expensive to operate. Patients require helicopters, high-end equipment and top-notch surgeons to be ready at a moments notice. And often, trauma patients cannot afford the services they receive, making the trauma department a money-losing area for many hospitals.

For example, about 7 to 9 percent of MetroHealth's patients are trauma but those patients make up about 16 percent of the system's uncompensated care. MetroHealth, which is supported by Cuyahoga County taxpayers, serves some of the highest volumes of poor patients in the region." Sarah Jane Tribble, The Plain Dealer

Within a short walk from my house and the MGH/CCF there is now a new urgent care center associated with University Hospital and there will soon be a new Emergency room built by Summa Hospitals associated with Akron General. CCF has plans to expand and improve their emergency room. We do have emergencies here in Medina County, but I think this is more a matter of intense competition to gain market share more than an effort to serve the community. One wonders about the future. What if the CCF wins the competition? What if they have their monopoly? Is NE Ohio putting all its eggs in one health care basket? Didn't we learn a lesson from Lebron James? When you have a national reputation (in this case a worldwide reputation) community takes a back seat to ambition. When the Clinic decides to dump us what players will be left to pick up the pieces of our health care, and who will play in the Medical Mart we are building?

So while I may complain about the noise of helicopters, the rest of you should be concerned and ask questions about what the Clinic has in mind for the Cleveland area. The are expanding to Du Bhai, and have looked around for other university partners,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some Thoughts on Health Care Reform

Health care expenses for all of us will continue to increase.
  • Our population is aging

  • There are more expensive treatments being developed

  • Neonatal care has improved, and it is expensive

  • Our population is less fit and our diet is worse

  • Drug and alcohol addiction is increasing

If no health care reform takes place government expenses for it will continue to increase tremendously. The status quo will be more expensive than reform. Under the current system, government is paying for the highest risk people while the insurance companies make a profit on those who are cheapest to insure. We are not going to let people die on the streets because they do not have insurance. That means that either we will pay for it through our taxes or increased costs at hospitals that serve uninsured people in emergency rooms.
The government pays the majority of the costs for people with the highest health bills; elderly, disabled, low income children. The government also pays when the insurance runs out or people exhaust their savings and ability to borrow.

Health care reform must address:

  • Wellness and prevention- Community based programs that provide nutrition counseling, fitness advice, well baby clinics, prenatal care, education and screening for common diseases and conditions, reproductive and genetic counseling. Much of this can be done through small groups in hospitals, community centers, schools, senior centers, libraries, etc.

  • Efficient service delivery- School health programs for children, on -site health care providers in senior centers and senior apartment complexes. Support for caregivers should be increased. Maintaining a severally disabled individual at home is less expensive and in most cases more desirable than putting them in nursing homes, but there is little support for caregivers.

  • Training additional health care workers- Government grants to train doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals. We must find ways to encourage young people to go into this field. We need more training programs.

  • Research and development- Additional government investment in disease prevention and treatment. Businesses that use government supported research to create new drugs, etc should have a limited patent protection period.

  • Tort reform and malpractice insurance- less litigation and more accountability. Better safety procedures to prevent errors.

  • Patient records, billing, confidentiality and access to information-patient records should belong to the patient and be portable, and digitized.

  • Mental health and addiction treatment- Should be available on equal basis with treatment for physical conditions.

  • Insurance regulation-insurance companies should no longer be able to cherry pick clients. They should not be able to refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions.

  • Treatment research- government must research effectiveness of treatments. This is the only way to prevent the research results from reflecting the bias of those profiting from the treatments. This research should be available to the public in terms that the average person can understand.

  • Limits on drug advertisement to doctors and the public. Should be limited to providing the facts.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Finding the Center

I haven't posted here for quite a bit. It isn't that I'm no longer watching the political free for all, just that I'm tired. Tired of all the hurtful things that we say about each other, tired of the promise to reach across the isle being shoved aside to get votes and news coverage. Tired of the members of Congress who do try to discuss the issues being drowned out by the words of the radicals and reactionaries. I'm not just talking about the disruptive right messing up town hall meetings; I'm also talking about the liberal left pouncing on anyone, even conservative Democrats, who expresses even the slightest hesitation to spend, spend, spend, on social programs and economic stimulus. I posted a comment in response to an Orcinus post about Blue Dog Democrats. Someone suggested I was a "concern troll", another called my post sanctimonious (Well , maybe it was a bit). I tried to clarify my meaning today. Not sure if it will help to convince the posters that I am not a troll. It isn't that I oppose health care reform, or helping out those hurt in this economic mess, its just that I don't think we are doing a good job of analyzing the problems ,and everyone knows that the first step in solving a problem is deciding what it is?

My friend Charles and I have a lot of political discussions. He's a mostly Republican; I'm a mostly Democrat. One thing we can agree on is that both of us care about this country and its people. We often agree on other things too. We believe in doing volunteer work to help others, the importance of a good public education system, and that children are being brought up in a world that is more violent, and less nurturing than the one we were brought up in. He's a devout Christian; I'm a UU, but we agree that the values we share are not reflected in most of the mass media. We agree that the war on drugs is failing, but we disagree on how to fix it. We agree that the health care system is in shambles, but we disagree on a public system. We could probably agree that, regardless of how it is funded, fixing it will require a major overhaul, and a change in behavior for Americans regarding diet, exercise and drug and alcohol use. His son is a medical researcher, so I think we could agree that our government should spend more on research to prevent and treat diseases like Alzheimers, cancer, diabetes, etc. We both believe in taking care of our natural world. He is a member of the farm bureau and despite my decision to be a vegetarian, I have to admit that he knows more about animal welfare, and caring for our land and water than I do.

The point of this post is that both Charles and I are in the middle, and no one is listening to us. Not to either one of us, because I think he would want the people shouting at the town halls to be quiet and talk about how to fix health care, and I would like the liberals to stop throwing money at every problem instead of carefully analyzing the situation and deciding how to fix the problems. Maybe the Blue Dogs represent us both.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama in Cleveland

Clevelanders came out in mass last evening to support Barack Obama for President. I was fortunate to get a good spot in the crowd to catch the enthusiasm and hope that everyone was counting on to bring a victory in this Tuesday's election. Standing among the thousands gathered there, praying together with the Rev. Otis Moss, listening to our National Anthem, reciting together the Pledge of Allegiance and singing “This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land” with Bruce Springsteen one couldn’t help but reflect on the diversity of the crowd and the urgency that we all feel to heal the divisions in this nation and pull together for a brighter future.

If Senator Obama wins Ohio tomorrow, the economy and Ohio’s position as second in the nation in unemployment will certainly be a factor, but the possibility of having a leader who will bring this nation together has been the energy that electrified his campaign from the very beginning. Ohio has seen more than its share of divisive and negative politics over the years. The reason we are a swing state is that our population reflects the tremendous diversity of the country providing ample opportunity for politicians to point out and capitalize on our differences. The crowd last night was desperate for the message that Obama gave us, “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America - there's the United States of America.” His appeal is to the America we can be when we work together, and that is a welcome change for a state that has been one of the major political battlegrounds .

We have heard
a lot of criticism of Obama as being all lofty rhetoric and idealism. Yet traveling on the Interstate past farms and suburbs, riding on the rapid transit, standing among the tall buildings, I was reflecting on the tremendous idealism of our Ohio ancestors, people who came here with hope, dreams and a can do attitude. This city, this state, this nation wasn't built by cynics; it was built on dreams, hopes, and faith that if we worked hard together we could do anything. No particular group can take credit for the wealth that was passed on to this generation. It came to us because of the hard work of people who overcome tremendous differences and obsticles to create a better life for all of us. We have to believe in us again and somehow, we have to come overcome our differences to pass it forward for future generations.

Yes we can!"
I may be an idealist, but I believe in the people of the United States of America.

Be sure to vote!

See the Video below.