Category Archives: Health Care

The Welfare of Children – Health Care 101

Potions, lotions, self-proclaimed notions aren’t a sensible substitute for modern medicine. Polio, smallpox, measles, mumps, rubella, typhoid, tuberculosis, and other infectious diseases have been successfully prevented through routine vaccinations. Some of the previous communicable diseases have begun to spread, primarily from those who have entered the country undetected from less developed countries, and the refusal of some people to not allow their children to be vaccinated. A person not vaccinated can spread disease to others who have weakened immune systems or pregnant women.

Advice concerning important health decisions for the welfare of your children should be sought from people who have years of education, research & training, not from celebrities or most politicians.

What you should know about child vaccinations. C - sitting in a tree

The efficacy or performance of a vaccine is dependent on a number of factors:

  • the disease itself (for some diseases vaccination performs better than for others)
  • the strain of vaccine (some vaccines are specific to, or at least most effective against, particular strains of the disease)
  • whether the vaccination schedule has been properly observed.
  • idiosyncratic response to vaccination; some individuals are “non-responders” to certain vaccines, meaning that they do not generate antibodies even after being vaccinated correctly.
  • assorted factors such as ethnicity, age, or genetic predisposition.

If a vaccinated individual does develop the disease vaccinated against (breakthrough infection), the disease is likely to be less virulent than in unvaccinated victims.

Bill & Melinda Gates in 2010 pledged to donate $10 billion over the following decade, to deliver vaccines to developing countries in an effort to reduce childhood mortality.

Jenny McCarthy, in a recent Time interview, believes vaccines cause autism. She stood firm behind her claim that the MMR vaccine caused autism in her son Evan, whom she believes is now cured thanks to a string of alternative therapies.

She’s another person who lacks credentials or sufficient scientific research to support her claims.

Bill Maher tweeted this opinion on the swine flu vaccine: “If u get a swine flu shot ur an idiot.” Maher, advised pregnant women not to get it, and said it was akin to “letting someone stick a disease in your arm.”

The swine flu shot contains a dead virus, and the nasal spray a weakened version of the virus, neither of which can cause you to contract swine flu.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr said that there is “a strong enough connection that the CDC should be looking into” the link between autism and the mercury-based ingredient thimerosal in vaccines.

According to the FDA, thimerosal has been “removed from or reduced to trace amounts” in vaccines for children 6 years or younger, except for the inactivated flu vaccine.

Thimerosal in Vaccines

Thimerosal is a mercury-based preservative that has been used for decades in the United States in multi-dose vials (vials containing more than one dose) of medicines and vaccines. There is no evidence of harm caused by the low doses of thimerosal in vaccines, except for minor reactions like redness and swelling at the injection site. However, in July 1999, the Public Health Service agencies, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and vaccine manufacturers agreed that thimerosal should be reduced or eliminated in vaccines as a precautionary measure.

Mercury is a naturally occurring element found in the earth’s crust, air, soil, and water. Two types of mercury to which people may be exposed — methylmercury and ethylmercury — are very different.

Methylmercury is the type of mercury found in certain kinds of fish. At high exposure levels methylmercury can be toxic to people. In the United States, federal guidelines keep as much methylmercury as possible out of the environment and food, but over a lifetime, everyone is exposed to some methylmercury.

Thimerosal contains ethylmercury, which is cleared from the human body more quickly than methylmercury, and is therefore less likely to cause any harm.

Thimerosal is added to vials of vaccine that contain more than one dose (multi-dose vials) to prevent growth of germs, like bacteria and fungi. Contamination by germs in a vaccine could cause severe local reactions, serious illness or death. In some vaccines, preservatives, including thimerosal, are added during the manufacturing process to prevent germ growth.

Immunization Recommendations for Disaster Response Operations

Disaster Recovery Personnel

  • Adult. Ensure personnel are current for ALL routine adult
    vaccinations based on age and health status.
  • Hepatitis A. Review records for evidence of immunization. If needed,
    begin or complete the two-dose Hepatitis A vaccine series. This series
    may be completed using the monovalent or bivalent (combination)
    vaccine. Further guidance on completing the vaccinations series is
    available at http://www.health.mil/hepA.
  • Hepatitis B. Review records for evidence of immunization. If needed,
    begin or complete the three-dose Hepatitis B vaccine series. This series
    may be completed using the monovalent or bivalent (combination)
    vaccine. Further guidance on completing vaccination series is available
    at http://www.health.mil/hepB.
  • Influenza. Vaccinate personnel with the current seasonal influenza
    vaccine if available.
  • Tetanus. In accordance with the current Centers for Disease Control &
    Prevention (CDC) guidelines, responders should receive a tetanus booster
    if they have not been vaccinated for tetanus during the past 10 years. Td
    (tetanus/diphtheria) or Tdap (tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis) can be used;
    receiving one dose of Tdap for one tetanus booster during adulthood is
    recommended to maintain protection against pertussis.
  • Consistent with CDC wound-management guidelines, anyone who develops a puncture
    wound or has a wound contaminated with dirt, feces, soil, or saliva needs
    a Td booster (or Tdap if applicable) if the most recent dose was more than
    5 years earlier.
  • Rabies. Veterinarians and people involved in animal-control efforts should assess the localized risk of rabies exposure and consider their need for pre-exposure prophylaxis. Persons who are exposed to potentially rabid
    animals should be evaluated and receive standard post-exposure
    prophylaxis, as clinically appropriate.

Travel-Related Vaccines. When responding to a disaster outside of the
United States, non-routine vaccines may be recommended based on the
CDC Health Information for International Travel (commonly called the
Yellow Book) or required by the Force Health Protection Guidance issued
by the Combatant Command Surgeon’s Office.

Keep it simple.

by Dr. John H Schumann MD

In spite of all the science and technology in medicine, what we doctors do is more about making educated guesses. Especially in primary care, it’s often a matter of playing the probabilities more than providing precise diagnostic information.

But prevention is different. We know a lot about it, based on huge bodies of epidemiological research. Most of prevention is fairly straightforward. You’ve heard the advice again and again. In fact, the repetition may make it easy to tune out.

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Move your body throughout the day.
  • Eat well — a healthy assortment of foods. Mostly plants, and not too much. (An idea popularized by author Michael Pollan.)
  • Interact socially. Isolation is not good for the body, soul or mind.
  • Take some time to reflect on what you are grateful for.

John Henning Schumann is a writer and doctor in Tulsa, Okla. He serves as president of the University of Oklahoma, Tulsa.

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Ben_young_Collie_1Children are given shots (vaccines) at a young age because this is when they are at highest risk of getting sick or dying if they get these diseases. Newborn babies are immune to some diseases because they have antibodies they get from their mothers, usually before they are born. However, this immunity lasts a few months. Most babies do not get protective antibodies against diphtheria, whooping cough, polio, tetanus, hepatitis B, or Hib from their mothers. This is why it’s important to vaccinate a child before she or he is exposed to a disease.
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Veterans Health Care – My Experience

If you’re a U.S. military veteran. or a family member of a veteran, then this blog post is for you. Those whom are also interested in government managed health care, and haven’t first hand knowledge, this may help you.

Most of what I’m going to discuss is only one man’s opinion, but in a sea of opinions, I’m going to do my best to accurately inform anyone still reading past the opening paragraphs.

CH-46s on runway destined for Viet Nam

CH-46s on runway Kaneohe Hawaii, destined for Vietnam

I’m a Vietnam era veteran. That means something specific, and to anyone that has also served during a time of war, but wasn’t a directly involved participant, meaning they weren’t in the designated country, served in a non-combat role, their benefits may differ from those serving during peace time operations.

The VA has different designated levels of assistance, depending on the time someone has served. They provide service for all in some capacity, but you may need to pay more for services rendered, depending on your current income, and when you served. Those details are available online, and if you aren’t aware of them, please follow this link.

VA heath care and the Affordable Care Act.

If you read the information, don’t fully understand it, and need more help, you can drop a response at the bottom of this post, along with your real name and how to contact you. Nothing you send will be automatically posted. I have to review comments before yours goes public. If you send personal information, I’ll not publish it. Of course I’m hoping I won’t be deluged with questions or some scammer trying to take advantage of my willingness to help explain what the VA can provide. I may just post a link, if I see the answer already available for your specific question.

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Me standing outside of a TAC – 1975

I want to encourage any veteran or family member that hasn’t been involved with VA health care to not defer or postpone the services which you’ve earned. Of course, if you’re enlistment or your appointment with the military wasn’t based on what you might later receive, it’s natural to ignore your benefits.

I enrolled about 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve been in for two annual physicals, and an eye examination and a new prescription with glasses.

I went into the Atlanta VA hospital yesterday on a scheduled surgery. It was a same day, recovery at home afterwards type of care. I went in at 9am and was out by 5pm. 0900 & 1700, military time.

I can tell you my experience was as positive as I’ve had. As it has not been my first or second hospital rodeo. I think my national and international health care provided experience gives me a basis from which I can make comparisons.

I’m at home recovering today. The surgery appears to be completed without complications. I’ve had two calls from the VA. The last one was from one of the doctors who assisted in the surgery. She left her pager number on the discharge sheet in case I have a problem.

All of that without copay or out of pocket expenses. That of course is based on my time, duration of service and current level of income. If you’re a veteran or a close family member, I urge you to become acquainted with the VA. Be sure you’re not missing out on health care services. If you’ve read or heard horror stories, which I’m not going to suggest aren’t based on fact, my experience doesn’t align with those concerns. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

Find a VA location near you.


Plenty of Blame to Go Around

I read this article, first referenced by someone I connect with through Facebook. Admittedly, its a long article, and mine isn’t much shorter. Such is the challenge when you look at a major systemic problem. It can’t be answered through memes or twitter posts. I could go into a more in depth discussion on what this article attempts to explain, but I believe it would only be lost in the Ether. Current popular ideas circulated throughout many social media exchange points as well as mass media, run adverse to what I have to say in rebuttal to this article. I believe her article serves to promote a political ideology, which becomes more obvious as you get to the end, and realize it’s a promo to Bernie Sanders. I’m not interested in promotion of a candidate, a party or ideology. I prefer substance and facts. Obviously, even in the best of efforts, prevailing opinion and quotes from others, denote a view point.

I Know Why Poor Whites Chant Trump, Trump, Trump
by By Jonna Ivin – April 1, 2016

Her article makes references to things which are historical and tries to draw parallels between some historical facts, and the authors politics without any rational explanation as to why she thinks Republicans are nothing more than a bunch of greedy, up with the rich, down with the poor, racist political hacks. Her explanation of war profiteering is the age old method of blaming the wealthy for creating wars with the thinnest of explanation, other than noting that such a thing exists. All of us would do well with this simple foundation of logic, correlation doesn’t necessarily indicate causation. Again we see the narrative, the wealthy have done better while the poor have done worse because of the greedy, racist, Republicans.

Statistics are wonderful and they can be used to say a lot about whatever the individual displaying them wants to say. Permit me the opportunity to politely disagree with some of these assumptions. First, I’ve lived through many years and most especially the Reagan years, which many now wish to disparage. Second, if you want to believe that one party owns the responsibility of the pain and suffering, you’re being setup and are not being intellectually honest. Both political parties have controlled and promoted their own selfish interests. Don’t believe me, then let’s further examine some of these ideas.

Since 1945, the House and Senate have been controlled by different parties only five times (10 years). And there have been only two complete turn-overs of Congress since 1945: one in 1949 and the other in 2007. The years for Congress controlled by Democrats have been far in excess of the Republicans. The Presidency has been occupied slightly more years by Republicans than Democrats (up to and including George Bush), that changed with President Obama. Most of the time the Congress was controlled by the opposing party to the President.

The Republicans have been in control of either the Senate or the House only 22 of the past 64 years. For 10 years, they were only in control of either the House or the Senate, the other 12 years they controlled both.

From 1960 to 1968, the Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House by large majority. During those years, the Presidents were also Democrats. 80% of Republicans in the House and Senate voted for the Civil Rights Act – 1964. Less than 70% of Democrats did. Minority Leader Republican Everett Dirksen led the fight to end the filibuster. Meanwhile, Democrats such as Richard Russell of Georgia and Strom Thurmond of South Carolina tried hard to sustain a filibuster. Geography was far more predictive of voting coalitions on the Civil Rights than party affiliation. In 1964, Barry Goldwater, was one of the few non-Confederate state senators to vote against the bill. He carried his home state of Arizona and swept the deep southern states. Strom Thurmond switched parties because he thought he would have a better chance of continuing segregation laws with Republicans because of Goldwater. He was wrong on both assumptions.

If history were to be used objectively, Republicans sponsored and passed the 13th Amendment banning slavery. They also wrote the 1866 Civil Rights Act. Republican support was nearly unanimous, while Democrats were unanimously opposed. Republicans James Mitchell Ashley & James F. Wilson were a pioneers in the advancement of federal protection for civil rights in the 1860’s. Democrats worked against it and helped to modify it’s implementation, especially in the south.

In fairness to the overall discussion, President Harry Truman (Democrat), attempted on more than one occasion to enact further civil rights legislation. His successor, Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, gave his first State of the Union message in 1953, spoke out against specific acts of desegregation within the federal government and within the nation’s capital. In that year segregation ended in the District of Columbia’s hotels, restaurants, motion picture theaters, and Capital Housing Authority projects. Strom Thurmond (Democrat) of South Carolina made a one-man stand against 1957 Civil Rights Act, but it was passed in spite of him. Dwight Eisenhower was slow and reluctant to support civil rights but he publicly admitted the Brown v. Board of Education was the right decision, in spite of his dislike for Earl Warren, majority opinion, 1954.

Over fifty years ago, before a joint session of Congress, President Lyndon Johnson announced an “unconditional war on poverty in America.” Today, many in black leadership are critical of how that war has been waged. They note the expansion of government and a strategy focused on handouts that discourage self-improvement caused more harm than help to the poor. Some of the black activists like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have made a luxurious living off their grievance activities. “The disastrous effects of the government’s management of anti-poverty initiatives are recognizable across racial lines, but the destruction is particularly evident in the black community. It effectively subsidized the dissolution of the black family by rendering the black man’s role as a husband and a father irrelevant, invisible and — more specifically — disposable. The result has been several generations of blacks born into broken homes and broken communities experiencing social, moral and economic chaos. It fosters an inescapable dependency that primarily, and oftentimes solely, relies on government to sustain livelihoods.”

Lower and middle income have been severely set back due to several factors. The Democrats have much to share in the responsibility of the laws and direction set in this country, as they’ve been in control during most of the past 60+ years. The Republicans have also supported laws such as NAFTA, and deregulation of securities, finance, and investment. They (Republicans) made an attempt to reign in the careless mismanagement of Fannie MAE & Freddie MAC, but were torpedoed by several key finance committee Democrats.

Manufacturing employed many “non-professional” people prior to the 1980’s. We’ve seen a rapid decline in heavy industry such as automotive and steel as examples. It used to be said when Detroit sneezes, America catches a cold. The decline of the American automotive industry has been far reaching because of how it affects many other support industries. Detroit was run very badly under Coleman Young, who served as mayor of Detroit, Michigan from 1974 to 1994. He left the city a fiscal and social wreck, but part of that can certainly be blamed on the mismanagement of the big automakers and the quality control of the American auto-worker combined. People looked to overseas manufactures for car purchases. Even to this day, I’m inclined to buy Toyota or Honda automobiles, (although I drive a Buick).

This isn’t news to most people, but they overlook the huge impact of the decline of manufacturing and the exodus of companies as they sought manufacturing of their products in lower cost labor markets. Look at most appliances, TV’s, washers, dryers, refrigerators, small kitchen appliances, replacement auto parts, video game consoles and smart phones. That’s a lot of money and a lot of jobs which are going to other countries. Look at the trade deficit, year after year it’s not favorable to the U.S.

Meanwhile, we’ve heard about the economy is evolving to a service industry. Here’s the basic problem with that. These jobs are highly competitive, not just within the domestic market. Many services can be performed outside of the U.S. and those within have a very low entry requirement, education requirements are typically some high school or may require high school graduation. They are low skill and thus low paying jobs. People might complain about low skilled labor rates are below poverty, then again, people pay for commodities based on perceived value. That’s why people shop for low cost goods at Walmart or Target. The individual consumer isn’t willing to pay a greater cost for higher priced labor, so they shop at discount retailers or online, such as Amazon.

Here’s the problem in a nut shell which people need to learn before there’s nothing but table scraps to fight over. People’s lives are improved through expanding the pie, not figuring out the best way to divide a smaller pie. It’s growth of industry, imagining, creating, and risking time, labor and fortune, that builds a real economy. Education in the trades are needed as well. We can’t be just a nation of lawyers, doctors, programmers, investment bankers, stock brokers, entertainers, professional athletes, and politicans.

Our government has learned nothing from the failed economic policies which have diminished wages, property values and the middle class, which we see in many large cities as well as several states. Look at most of the north east, the middle part of the country such as Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. The federal government has forestalled the massive poverty it’s pushing all of the middle and lower income class into through it’s debt expansion. The U.S. is addicted to credit and continues to spend as if there’s no end in sight. This can’t go on indefinitely, and while we blame Republicans or Democrats, we fail to examine their policies, history and understanding of what it takes to move an economy forward.

This is a complex topic, and I suspect those who are firmly entrenched into their past college studies, and divisive party politics won’t be able to see the forest for all the trees. Here are a few films which have attempted to address the cause or the indifference while “Rome Burns”.

  • Inside Job (2010) Everyone that’s interested in a portion of this topic, should see this film. Don’t be on your phone playing games or talking while this runs, because you will miss some key points.
  • I.O.U.S.A. (2008) America’s obsession with credit and it effects on it’s future. (No wonder it wasn’t a box office hit)
  • Up In the Air (2009) Although this film is more of a personal fictitious view, it’s a realistic human portrayal of the downsizing which myself and many others were affected by.
  • The Company Men (2011) Company Men focuses on both sides of the equation: the executives doing the firing, and the employees who are downsized and suffer through long periods of joblessness. It was a box office flop. It’s not your romance, Marvel or DC Entertainment fantasy. It’s an attempt at keeping it real through varied perspectives.
  • Frontline: The Warning (PBS Documentary, 2009) before the economic meltdown, one woman tried to warn about the threat to the financial system. She failed because greed and power / control won the day. Plenty of Democrats and Republicans to blame here.

Here’s a little more history on our financial meltdown.

Additional Links

Trivia note:
Future defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld at one time was the White House’s man in charge of anti-poverty programs such as the Peace Corps.