Posts Tagged ‘Health care’

Fix the right problem

March 2, 2009

It’s going to be a wild few weeks in Washington, as Congress begins to debate President Obama’s first budget. I can’t even begin to predict how it will turn out. And while I do have my opinion, I won’t share it with you – I try to  avoid discussing politics here. Every now and again it is necessary, but for the most part this blog concentrates on Heart Defects.

But today we have to talk politics, just a little bit. Part of the budget involves rethinking our health care system. Admittedly, cost are getting out of control, private insurance makes you grit your teeth, and Medicare is a pain. You think an encounter with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can ruin your day? The IRS are rank amateurs when compared to to Medicare!

But before we start to run around and make things worse by trying to fix it, let’s look at what we have:  Somewhere in America a cell phone rings. Its owner, an Emergency Department nurse for a major hospital, is being called to duty. A child was born with a Congenital Heart Defect in a rural hospital just an hour ago;  the patient is stable and is being brought in for evaluation followed by  surgery. She takes one final sip of her coffee, tosses the cup, and heads back to Emergency.

Meanwhile, in the Republic of Vietnam, just over 1000 children have recieved lifesaving operations to combat their heart defects. The program is ending, and it has been such an accomplishment that the State President and the city’s Party Committee Chairman both attend.

And the Children’s Heart Fund of Ethiopia finally has an operational hospital… 22 years after being officially recognized. As of February 17, they had already performed fifteen surgical procedures and ten catherizations.

My God… can you imagine living with a Heart Defect – or any chronic illness – in one of the countries of the world that doesn’t have the resources to provide the level of medical care that Americans are used to? Or in a country like Zimbabwe, where Cholera is rampant, inflation is eleven million percent (11,200,000% as of August 2008) and the President seems to be plumb fool crazy?

Trust me, America has one of the best Health Care systems in the world. The debate shouldn’t be about trying to make it better… just about paying for it. True, every system can be improved, but when you try to do too much – try to fix health care and the payment system, and tie the two fixes together – that’s when the problems occur. So let’s do one segment at the time.

We need for every American to have a doctor – someone they can see for “little things”. Coughs, sprains, a broken finger, the flu… the day to day things that you might need to see your doctor for. These doctors can also pass us on to a specialist if that is what we need. To accomplish this, we naturally need more primary care doctors. We ain’t got them right now, so there’s a good starting point: Figure out how to get more people into Primary Care medicine.

And we need to figure out how to pay for this medical care. Going to the doctor is not cheap, as we all know. It doesn’t matter if you have private insurance or Medicare/Medicaid (or neither), we need to figure a way to make medical care affordable – without drowning ourselves in the paperwork. We also need to make sure the medical staff is fairly compensated. “The workman is worthy of his hire,” the scriptures say, and certainly a trained physican, nurses, and medical staff are much more than “workmen.”

And we need to figure out how to do this without bankrupting individuals or our government.

We’ve got quite a challenge ahead of us.


Got the Blues!

January 5, 2009

I hate days like this!

I’ve got a bad case of the Mid-winter Blues… so bad, I think I could sit down and put together a good bluesy song in just a few minutes. It’s not hard – just tap your foot as you sing, and after every line take your harmonica and play Whaaw-Whawwww-a-Wha! B.B. King would be proud of that song!

I’m cold… the weather isn’t really that cold, but I am. It’s dark when my feet hit the floor, and it gets dark so early, it almost feels as if it’s night 24/7. Throw in some lousy weather lately, and it feels like the day is 40 hours long! This time of year tends to make me a bit snarly!

Don’t worry about looking up the word “snarly”, it doesn’t exist. It’s my own invention, when I am snarly I am in a foul mood, and I snarl at people if I don’t take a deep breath and think about what I’m about to say.

On the good side of things, my new Under Armour ColdGear shirt is working out pretty well, but I’m not wearing it today. I’ve been wearing it most of the time all week, and the Funky Heart’s shirt was beginning to smell a little funky itself. So it’s in the wash. The shirt can’t make you warm, but if you are warm before you go outside – or you have on a nice thick shirt above it – it will trap your body heat and keep your warm. I’ve become a fan!

And to make me even more snarly, my weight is creeping up. Christmas was a little too much fun around here, I hate to say. So I’ve got to buckle down and get back to walking. Which means getting out in the cold, and shivering, and getting snarly.

But I gotta. After all, my heart is functioning on a pacemaker, bubble gum, Elmer’s Glue, prayer, and a good dose of stubbornness. Anything I can do now to take care of myself pays off later.

Do you walk? Run? Work out at the local gym? Are you like me, when it’s disagreeable outside, do you have to talk yourself into your exercises? Heart Healthy or not, we’ve got to keep at it, my friend. Your body will hate you for a while when you begin a new routine… and hate you even more if you let yourself get behind.

So get off the couch and join me on my walk. I promise not to get snarly with you!

“Like sands through the hourglass…

December 4, 2008

… so are the days of our lives.”

Ever notice that the sand in the hourglass on the daytime show Days of our Lives never runs out? It just keeps going forever and ever and ever…

To bad it has nothing to do with reality. There was a very alarming report in the Boston Globe that states the bad economy could drain Medicare part A pretty quick. When that money runs out… it’s gonna get nasty. Doctors are already upset; the government is running them out of business. Some doctors are doing their own laundry to save money and others can’t afford to replenish their drug supplies. It’s getting scary out there, folks.

If I were a doctor I’d probably be looking for something else to do. Some of them are, and others are changing their mind about going into medicine in the first place. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) recently did a study that showed the numbers are dropping as the demand is rising. Massachusetts is already getting slammed. The Canadian system isn’t the answer, either. USA Medicine is ahead in technology, but the men and women of the Maple Leaf have better office systems. An alliance is looking pretty good right about now.

Dr. Wes bemoans the fact that healthcare costs are climbing more than inflation. Health Insurers are willing to forget about pre-existing conditions (Yay!) and insure everyone if the Government does certain things. (Now wait a minute… where’s the money coming from?) And whatever happened to all that savings that was supposed to occur if we switched to generic drugs?

We need to close the bar and then check ourselves into rehab.

You’re never too old!

October 30, 2008

My family was understandably worried when my 84 year old grandma had heart surgery a few years ago, it turns out that we didn’t have to be.

When you need help you call 911, even in bad weather. Paramedic SuperMonkey and his partner answer a call during hurricane force winds, and in the process they earn Oregon’s Medal of Valor!

Paramedic SuperMonkey strikes again when one of his patients turns out to be more than he expects…

Sean over at Poked and Prodded says that filling out the medical paperwork is just as much fun as having a tooth yanked. He’s getting ready for 2009 right now…

The Angry Pharmacist has some advice for you if you are trying to snowjob him into early refills of narcotics: “Lie better next time!” (WARNING: The pharmacist isn’t gentle, and sensitive ears might want to skip this one!)

But in The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, they know how to deal with addicts! (Especially the royal ones!)

Kevin, MD wonders why American Football players (who have access to some of the best medical care there is) are suddenly prone to infections. Could it be all those fancy diagnostic tools?

Now that you’re caught up on the news, go check on Katie!