Archive for April, 2009

Washington DC and Health Care Reform
—Posted Wednesday, April 29th, 2009 at 8:56 pm— « »

I have just returned from four days in Washington, DC. During that time, I attended an American Hospital Association Board of Directors meeting, the Investiture of new AHA Chair, Tom Priselac (CEO of Cedars Sinai Hospital in Beverly Hills, CA), special briefings for small and rural hospitals and several well known speakers. It makes me very proud to be a member of the AHA Board of Directors. Along with my fellow AHA Board members, I feel like we will be in good position to help create change in health care in the United States.

A common theme that I heard over and over was that health care reform legislation is likely to be happen this year in 2009. That is because there is talk in Washington, DC about using reconciliation rules this year to approve health care reform in the U.S. Senate. What that means is that a reform package can be approved in the Senate with 51 votes (out of 100) instead of 60 votes, which is required. If it only takes 51 votes than the Senate Democrats can approve health care reform without a single Republican vote. That would not be the case if it takes 60 votes.

What I heard from both sides of the aisle is that the hope is that bipartisan support for health care reform will be reached. And I hope that is true. I believe that we will have a better solution if both sides participate in the creation of health reform. And, we need health reform. And by reform, I mean changes in hospital care, insurance products, information technology, coverage for all and wellness. Stay tuned. There will be more to be said in the coming months.

The Hospice Thrift Store is Finally Open
—Posted Sunday, April 12th, 2009 at 10:15 pm— « »

Arlene Case is one of the most persistent people that I have ever encountered. It has been her dream for over 2 years that a new Thrift Store would be opened in our area that would become a sustainable source of funds for our Hospice Program. Arlene is our Hospice Coordinator. Because the Mendocino Coast Hospital Hospice Program is entirely supported by voluntary donations, it has come perilously close in the past year to running out of money. Its 2 biggest fund raisers have been the Annual “Light a Life” Tree lighting ceremony each year before Christmas, and the WineSong! fundraiser of a few years ago.

Thankfully, in addition to these 2 wonderful events, there is an organization in the community called “The Friends of Hospice.” Thank you “Friends of Hospice” for providing the start up funds for the new thrift store. Thank you Arlene and all of your volunteers. And welcome aboard to Heidi Kraut, the new Thrift Store Manager.

The new Mendocino Coast Hospital Hospice Thrift Store is officially open for business. Its hours will be 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. Donations, volunteers and shoppers are welcome! Your donations are going for a great cause. Hospice volunteers have been providing caring and comfort to patients and families on the Coast for many, many years. With the new thrift store it appears that they will be here for decades to come.

High Speed Internet Access in the Rural Areas
—Posted Thursday, April 9th, 2009 at 7:42 pm— « »

Yesterday hundreds of people in our rural community of the Mendocino Coast came together to talk about the need to acquire broadband capability in our region. We were led by Shirley Freriks, a local woman with tireless energy and commitment to getting the attention of our government and the wireless carriers. Shirley heads up the Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance. And she certainly had the attention of local government. 2 County Supervisors were in attendance and our County CEO Tom Mitchell began the session with a very inspiring keynote speech. Mr. Mitchell reported that he had been to Washington, DC to seek the support of our Congressman, Mike Thompson for Telemedicine in our County. We also had the Mayor of Fort Bragg, 1 Councilman and our City Manager.

I was impressed to meet people at the conference that had come from as far away as Chicago, IL to learn about what our needs are. The group did a very good job of identifying all of the possibilities of a high speed internet world. Access to higher education, economic development, and better medical care, and much more were all discussed. I was very pleased to be a part of this movement and to see that dedicated people in small communities such as ours, really can make a difference. It made me feel very proud to be a part of this community. Hopefully, someday, every household in our remote region will have access to affordable high speed internet.