Saturday, August 29, 2009

Remembering a civil America

Here's a blog that tells it like it is. The writer is too old to worry about being anything other than "frank."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Well of Course, Ted Kennedy

Whenever a famous person dies, the TV networks go all out with tributes and commentaries and old movies and video of the person. So often I learn more than I knew before or I learn about some of the quiet traits of a person. Sometimes the descriptions don't match my memories, so I wonder.

When the list of the causes that Ted Kennedy supported, worked for, fought for, and even took risks for came on the TV screen today, I said to myself, "Well, of course." By that I meant, well of course a person would be against the war; well of course, a person would want to help people with disabilities; of course, a person would work against apartheid. The list was quite long.

So many of these things that Kennedy promoted, and worked for, are things that people now take for granted. Hindsight is wonderful; it lets us forget that some things were just not there for certain groups at one time. We forget that some people, not just senators, went out on a limb for certain causes, even suffering for a cause. We get to take good things for granted. There may also be things that I disagree with or ideas that are good, but the implementation is problematic. But all in all, Kennedy worked to make life better for many people.

About the time that Reagan was president, Ted Kennedy was promoting a single payer health care system. I was adamantly against this. I had selfish reasons. With the benefit of age, I can see now how strained out current health care PAYMENT system is, and how close so many of us are to losing our insurance, if we even have any. And I see how some people have to pay a lot for insurance because they are not in a group or in a small group, while others practically have it for nothing. Some employers are generous; my son worked for a billionaire's large company where the $8.00/hour employees could buy their insurance if they chose to (yeah right.)

I sincerely hope that we can honor the memory of Ted Kennedy by getting a new system that treats people fairly and does away with the ridiculously complicated insurance claim system that clinics now have to deal with. Good health care needs to be available to everyone. A simplified health care PAYMENT system should be a reasonable goal.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pay more taxes?

Some people are volunteering to pay more taxes. What do you think? I sure think that people who complain about taxes and yet choose to use all the services we are privileged to have are not connecting the dots. And I don't think we should foist the costs of our privileges and benefits off onto our grandchildren.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Heads will roll...

Follow-up to my previous post: I found a link on the clinic's website for asking a question. I asked, "How do I get a scheduler to call me and how do I get a call back from the department?" I signed my whole name. I received a quick reply, stating that the person would try to help me if I gave the department and my phone number. I wrote back with the whole story of having 4 people say that a scheduler would call, but after a week, no call, etc. But I also asked the question, "Do you think that this is what the providers expect when they want test done?" If there is a good reason for a delay, it should be communicated. I explicitly asked for no special treatment, but that there should be better follow-up in general.

I got a follow-up email saying that my email was forwarded to a department head. This was at 8:00 am. At 11:15 am, exactly one week from my initial appointment, I finally did get a call from a scheduler. I scheduled my appointment, then I asked her why she had called. She said her supervisor told her to call. I told her the whole story, so that she could understand the patient's point of view. I thought she was genuinely empathetic and understanding. She said she will personally follow up on some details.

But when I wrote that email, I thought to myself, I will just document everything and if they don't exhibit better customer relations, I'll send the info to the CEO. Head will roll.

BTW, I am always extremely complimentary when I write if there are positive aspects of a situation. I find I get better results that way.

Friday, August 21, 2009

It was like a plague of locusts

Yesterday a pastor-blogger posted a piece which said that the tornado that just missed the Convention Center but hit the church steeple across the street, as well as numerous homes quite a bit south of there, was evidence of God's judgment regarding the various votes that the ELCA is taking this week. No need to go into detail; those of you who are in the in-crowd on this know what I mean.

I made a comment, not about the issues voted upon, but about the idea that how could anybody possibly know God's mind. And isn't it just possible that we could interpret it as the convention center being spared? And what happens when that pastor's parishioners have storm damage, how does he counsel them? Pastors who claim to understand the mind and intent of God are an irritation to me.

Commenters were all over the place in their views, praising the pastor, condemning the sinners, warning all of us in the US to be wary of God's wrath because of materialism and gluttony, praising God for loving all of mankind, etc. Some posters keyed in on literal interpretations of the Bible, in a particular English version, of course. Others cited verses about God and/or Jesus controlling the weather. Others gave verses about certain things happening to people regardless of whether they are righteous or not. One person even looked into the history of the blogger's church and claimed that it has been hit by a tornado in the past. You get the picture.

I got about 400 comment emails in my in-box. They wouldn't turn off. I repeatedly clicked the unsubscribe. Finally, there was a long comment from another pastor who called the original blogger on the carpet, detailing errors in specific references to scripture, citing science, citing errors in interpretation and inconsistencies, of both scripture references and from the blogger's past writings.

Then the comments stopped. Cold. I checked the blog and it no longer showed a comment box. But this morning, the plague of locusts returned.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How long are they going to keep me waiting?

Last week I finally had a medical appointment with a nurse practitioner at an extremely large clinic in a far city for an on-going health problem. I've lived with the problem for a long time; I know it isn't going to kill me, but there are reasons to make sure there aren't other problems that are masked by the main symptoms.

This appointment was set up through my regular family doctor, and it took about 5 weeks until I could get in. I had hoped to see the specialist, but I was assigned to the CNP. I thought she was really good. She asked about 100 questions and made a point of making sure she understood my answers. I was impressed. I've actually seen another specialist twice a few years ago, at another clinic, but he asked only a few questions, proclaimed a very general diagnosis, never even checked my body, and sent me on my way with no tests, with no care plan or suggestions or patient information about the supposed diagnosis. Needless to say, I was POed.

The CNP told me what tests were needed; that was not a surprise, because I've had those before elsewhere. She told me to stop taking one medication, but to start two others. She then walked me out to the desk, where she told the clerk to schedule me for four tests and a followup visit. That woman said, "I don't know how. The schedulers are in the back." She asked me if my phone would take a message when they called.

I had no message when I got home. I had no calls the next two working days. But by then, it was obvious I was reacting poorly to one of the medications, so I called the office and said that I was in "extreme pain," that I wanted to stop the medication, that I wanted to talk to the CNP, and that the schedulers hadn't called back. The response was that she would "send an email" to the CNP's nurse and that the schedulers were very busy. Six hours later, I was called by the nurse. Same story. She'll send an email to the CNP. She'll tell the schedulers. The scheduler called at 5:03 pm, made one of the test appointments, but couldn't make the rest because everybody had gone home.

Two days later, I'm feeling much better, but I still haven't heard from anybody else.

I've already written two complaint letters, but I haven't mailed them. I was too hot about this when I wrote the letters, so I know better than to send something like that. Since I'm feeling better, I've decided to wait about another week, and then I'll write to the CEO, not just to the department. Unfortunately, I've learned today that this may not be an isolated incident. I asked a friend if she had ever been to that clinic. She said no, but related a very similar story about a good friend of her's, but in that case, the person had a disease that was fatal if not treated promptly.

In my most desperate and snarky moments while waiting for the call backs, I've contemplated what I might say to the schedulers if and when they do call. I might say, "Oh, you want my sister. She was in extreme pain when she called on Tuesday. She keeled over and hit her head, and is now in surgery." Or maybe it will just be, "Can I have your name and the name of your supervisor and the head of your department, as well as the CEO of the clinic?" I honestly hope that I'm not feeling humbled and grateful that they finally decided to call.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How did kids ever get by before moms had internet?

My son and daughter-in-law moved, within the week, to a hot and humid state. The move went well, but there were some issues with their new apartment, so they couldn't move in immediately. And they couldn't move in even after 3 more days, even though the apartment management knew when they were to arrive. And they had a considerable amount of money invested in the deposit and first month's rent. Of course, they went looking for alternative apartments, even though there might be some financial ramifications for leaving the first place.

Meanwhile, expenses are adding up, plus they needed funds for the new apartment. Apparently, their banks back home must have decided that their credit cards were stolen, because the ATM machines wouldn't honor their cards and passwords.
My son has been on the phone with me numerous times this week, so I've been on the 'net trying to get some information to help them out: location of their bank in new city (oops, not in that state at all), laws about renting and getting one's deposit back (probably can't get the money, even though the apartment isn't ready), phone numbers of lawyers, just to name a few things. It is pretty hard to try to take care of business and find a place to connect to the 'net when one is new in town.

My husband and I couldn't help but reflect on how complicated life has become for young people. We were never asked for any detailed financial information when we were renting. We were never asked to have a guarantor for our rent. We didn't have plastic money, so there was never a possibility of getting cash quickly, nor was there a chance of easily going into debt. We did get married when we were both unemployed and the unemployment rate was high, but when we got jobs, we got good health insurance.

This situation also triggered a memory of my older daughter's move to a state out east. The day after she moved into her apartment with her husband and new baby, she took her husband to work for his first day at his job. She got her keys locked in her car when she got back to the apartment. She had no acquaintances there, was not within walking distance of any stores, didn't know her husband's work phone number, and had no phone book or internet connection. She called us so we could look up all the information on the 'net. Unfortunately, the phone number we got for her husband's work was wrong, so the best we could do was find a locksmith and also the phone number for the local police department.

I guess being resourceful these days is different than being creative used to be. Back in the day, as the kids say, I would have had to knock on doors to get help. What else was there to do? That does have advantages, even if it has more risks.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Rationing Health Care

Another way of framing the current LOUD debate: whole article here.

In Palin’s fantasy, the death-panel “bureaucrats” were going to pick winners and losers based on a judgment about their “level of productivity in society.” Well, if you view income as a gauge of a person’s productivity in society—and God knows there are Republicans who do—then the quality of health care is already correlated with “productivity in society.” Obama’s plan, by making health care more affordable to lower income people, would make that less true.

This is just another way of making a point already made by Peter Singer in response to less delusional concerns about the possibility of rationing under Obama’s plan: we already ration health care; we just let the market do the rationing.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Back to Work!

A number of the large employers in our general area have been on full or partial shut down for over half a year. One of these businesses layed off 590 people last February, but they just announced that they are recalling several hundred employees and restarting several production lines in the next few months. Lets hope that this will spread to the other closed businesses and also to the ancillary businesses in the area that have been really stretched.

The other big business (said with tongue in cheek) here is the tourist industry. Of course, that doesn't pay well. And since, weather-wise, this has been the summer that never came, I'm sure that the resorts can't be doing all that well. This is the first summer that I haven't seen any employment ads for resort cleaning people.

Even the school districts are hurting, with about half as many students as ten years ago. You can extrapolate what these tough times are doing to giving to area churches. My church is hoping to do a large remodeling project while there is some economic stress in the area, because we're hoping that bids come in quite low. Kind of sad to be selfishly hopeful about that.

Paradise, Almost in My Back Yard

A town, just a scenic 50 mile drive away from me, was named one of the 10 Best Small Towns in Outside magazine. Love it. I can take advantage of all the amenities without having to deal with the traffic on Ely's main street, ie cars with canoes on the roofs. also: Ely and Ely on Wikipedia.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Word, misread

I was reading this article about the movement to shout down Democratic legislatures at meeting where the Congressmen/women want to find out the views of their constituents I misread the word "sign" as "sin." I think it fits. The Epistle lesson for this coming Sunday speaks to the issue of how we speak with one another. Ephesians 4:25 - 5:2.

First part of article:

Right-Wing Harassment Strategy Against Dems Detailed In Memo: ‘Yell,’ ‘Stand Up And Shout Out,’ ‘Rattle Him’

This morning, Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being harassed by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. For example, in one incident, right-wing protesters surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety.