Posts Tagged ‘Recovery’

Gotta Love This Guy (Oh, yeah, and this is an editorial comment)

March 1st, 2010

As we begin to emerge from the bottom of a V-shaped recession, we all pray that it does not evolve into a W-shaped recession. Having been a witness for the majority of this economic challenge rather than an officer in charge, I’ve observed several significant issues that have impacted the hospital industry.  They have included the downgrading of bonds, a serious lack of access to capital financing, cutbacks in elective surgeries and elective donations to our health care foundations,  All of which has resulted in a deep degree of uncertainty as to when  all of this will be over.

V, L, W, U or L-shaped recovery vs. recession

The fact that many of the economic practices that got us into this mess have still not been discontinued or are being reshaped into the newest version of the scam du jour does not bring peace of mind to the vast majority of us, a deeply concerned citizenry.  Add to that the billions and now trillions that we are committed to repay over the next several generations, and one has to wonder about the ability of our current political system to respond appropriately to these challenges.

Warren E. Buffett

Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders criticized Wall Street executives and board members in a way that most of us would liked to have expressed, but which only Buffet could articulate. This is because his comments are clearly supported by his business acumen and investment skills.  He broadsided the leadership of Wall Street for failing to control risk and for avoiding  what very clearly should have been the “severe” consequences of these failures.  He chastised the bankers in particular for designing and implementing their own industry’s doom and then piling the losses onto investors, while they themselves have managed to maintain lavish lifestyles.

“It has not been shareholders who have botched the operations of some of our country’s largest financial institutions,” Buffett wrote. “Yet they have borne the burden, with 90% or more of the value of their holdings wiped out in most cases of failure. Collectively, they have lost more than $500 billion in just the four largest financial fiascos of the last two years. To say these owners have been ‘bailed-out’ is to make a mockery of the term.”

“The CEOs and directors of the failed companies, however, have largely gone unscathed…Their fortunes may have been diminished by the disasters they oversaw, but they still live in grand style. It is the behavior of these CEOs and directors that needs to be changed: If their institutions and the country are harmed by their recklessness, they should pay a heavy price – one not reimbursable by the companies they’ve damaged nor by insurance.”

With his sentiments firmly ensconced in my mind, I have to wonder about the current rounds of outrageous health insurance increases perpetrated upon the customers of many of our largest and most profitable insurance companies.  As a hospital CEO, I learned very early on that no matter how low we held our charges, those savings would not be passed on to the patients because the middle man controlled this aspect of the “business.”  Incentives are completely upside down in the system at many levels, and the political commitment to truly work toward meaningful change seems not only misguided but also seriously uninformed.

Blair House health summit, February, 2010

Bottom line?  We need to be heard.  We need to work toward systems that make sense: protection from catastrophic financial situations brought on by major illnesses or accidents, primary care that truly helps the patient manage their health challenges at a reasonable cost, and a complete change from a sickness-based to a wellness-based reimbursement system that is not dependent upon the insurance companies for the decision making proposition.

Sometimes right is truly black and white, and until we embrace palliative care, incentivize individuals for taking care of themselves, and deal with tort reform, progress will be only a delusion.

U.S. Health Care Reform Timeline: 1910-2010

U.S. Health Care Reform Interactive Timeline: 1910-2010

Click image above to view full-size, interactive timeline. (Will open in a new web browser window.)

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Wah Wah Wah

August 8th, 2006

The world is falling apart at the seams. Wars in Lebanon, Israel, Iraq and trouble in North Korea, Iran, Syria… and…closer to home. Congressman Murtha is being attacked by those individuals who haven’t listened. Like it or not, he has dared to go where no politician had gone before… he has predicted, reported and spoken THE TRUTH about impending civil war, lack of troops, worn out weapons, and a more than difficult situation in what is becoming “the longest war since the War of the Roses.”

It’s not my place, however, to spew political rhetoric in my blog. It is my place to tell you what’s really really bothering me.

Ornish_books3_2 In nine and a half years I had gained only five pounds. Count ‘em. 172 to 177. Sure, I’d gain a little on vacation, but could always count on a bout of the stomach flu to get me back down. I have exercised and watched my weight to the point of being spoiled. It was a beautiful thing. It was something that only smokers had achieved in the past. NO WEIGHT GAIN.

For nine and a half years I had lived on the Dr. Dean Ornish Coronary Artery Disease Reversal Diet. Do you want to talk about FUN? I know what fun is and that was NOT FUN, but it kept me svelte.

It was a vegetarian diet. No problem. I got real used to that. Vegetables, whole grains, fruit, some soy and an occasional fake hamburger made from “stuff.” The diet was about 75% carbs, but I ate PLENTY of food and didn’t gain a pound. Actually, that part was fun. Give me a bag or two of sourdough pretzels and some water. In fact, my eating habits were a lot like Seabiscuit’s.

Euell_gibbons_book_1The tough part about this diet was NO ADDED FATS. No olive oil. No almonds. No butter. No LARD. No M&M’s with peanuts. No fish. NO . . . well, you get the picture. Alcohol was permitted once a day, and there were plenty of weeks where I wanted to save it all up and drink a case of beer on a Saturday night to celebrate my Euell Gibbons diet.

Then came Crestor. Don’t get me wrong, up to this point, Lipitor, Zocor, Mevacor, anything with an or on the end of it had been part of my life.

It was early February when my physician sent me an article written by a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic. I contacted this gentlemen, who politely responded to me by e-mail, and we began our relationship. He suggested, “Go Mediterranean.” Crestor, fish oil, Zetia, lots and lots of Niaspan… and then a miracle occurred. After nearly six decades, my numbers fell and/or rose to near prenatal proportions. HDL over 31? Unheard of anywhere in my family.

Mandm_guy200 Fish re-entered my diet once or twice a week. Almonds hit my pallet after nearly nine years, and canola oil, God bless oil. I had it twice a week on salads. Compound that with some chocolate. I once stared at an M&M for two and a half hours on the floor by my shoe on a trip to San Diego before I kicked it away.

What happened?

According to my numbers, I might not only live, but I might actually reverse some of the two or three hundred pounds of plaque in my system, but what really happened. I went to bed on a Sunday night and woke up on Monday morning seven pounds heavier, 177 to 184. The heck with the wars. My pants don’t fit. Seven ugly, miserable, couldn’t-be-worse pounds of fat. I’m going to need Husky blue jeans with reinforced knee pads. (Did they think that fat kids fell down a lot?)

I’m going to go back to grass and hot sauce. Dean, where are ya, man?

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