New Orleans CityBusiness |
by The Associated
NEW ORLEANS —
Despite Hurricane Katrina's devastation of the health care system, former
Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco just weeks later said the publicly run Charity
Hospital would not reopen, even as the military scrubbed it to medical-ready
standards. That's according to the retired Army general who oversaw the work.
Lt. Gen. Russel Honore said Blanco told
him at a September 2005 briefing the hospital that served poor residents
would not reopen.
Honore's revelation comes as state and federal
officials continue to squabble over damage at the hospital and how much
federal recovery funding should be allocated to it.
Blanco said she
did not remember the conversation, and didn't know the military had scrubbed
Charity until she was contacted by The Associated Press.
[BACK TO TOP]
The LSU Health
at Shreveport Medical Library wants children to have fun while being healthy
this summer. The Kids Health Story Hour planned for Tuesday, July 14 at 10
a.m. at the Mooretown branch of the Shreve Memorial Library (4360 Hollywood Avenue)
will help them do just that.
Staff from the
library will read the book Oh, the Things You Can Do That Are Good for You!. In the story, the Cat in the Hat explains the basics of
healthy living, from eating right and getting enough exercise and sleep, to
having a positive body image, to the distance and speed of a typical sneeze.
The book is written for children ages 4 – 8.
After the story
youngsters will participate in an exercise game called “Heart Smart.” In it
librarians will teach kids about the heart by asking questions like, “Where is your heart located and what does it do?” Then, children
will learn about activities that strengthen and weaken their heart. Lastly, youngsters will be shown cards that
depict an activity such as, eating vegetables, eating a hamburger with fries,
jumping rope, or watching TV. If the activity is heart healthy, the kids will
jump, but if the activity is bad for your heart, the kids will squat down.
is part of a series of events this summer by the LSUHSC-S Medical Library
designed to acting healthy.
[BACK TO TOP]
New Orleans |
New Orleans, LA –
Five students from LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans’ Schools of Public
Health and Medicine, who are 2009-10 Albert Schweitzer Fellows, will help
repair and improve Abeona House Child Discovery
Center, 8630 Oak Street, on Saturday, July 18, 2009, from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
is a non-profit formed in November 2005 by parents whose children attended
one of nearly 200 centers that did not re-open after Katrina. Serving
children from 6 weeks to 5 years, the center supports families through
high-quality childcare for their children, a sense of community, and the
co-creation of learning opportunities between children, parents, teachers and
the larger community. Tuition is on a sliding fee scale.
The educational philosophy at the Abeona House is inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to
learning. Like Abeona House, the Reggio approach
was borne out of community response to disaster. After World War II, the
Italian government granted cities funds to rebuild a sense of community. Most
cities built community centers, but the families in the town of Reggio Emilia, Italy used the bricks from bombed
out buildings and volunteers from all corners of the community to build a
effort is a direct service project of the New Orleans Schweitzer Fellowship
Program. The goal of the Schweitzer Fellowship is to help under-served or
uninsured communities, while simultaneously enhancing the education of health
professionals in the area.
New Orleans represents one of ten Schweitzer
Fellowship Programs across the country.
Last year, the program was established in New Orleans in response to the health needs
of the local community.
Schweitzer Fellows participating in this community service project are Alice
Williamson, a medical student at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans
School of Medicine, and Lauren Cole, Amy Thierry, Emily Rogers, and Shannon Speeg, all students at LSU Health Sciences Center New
Orleans School of Public Health.
[BACK TO TOP]
MEGAN J. WILLIAMS / The Daily Reveille
Chancellor Martin discusses the budget June 3 in his
released its plan to reduce about $19 million from its operating budget on
Thursday, and 100 layoffs or job eliminations are expected.
The budget — still
called a “work-in-progress” as officials wait to receive more detailed
information from individual campus units — was sent to the LSU System
Wednesday for review.
The cuts in
funding are a result of declining state revenue and the national recession.
proposed plan includes cutting the budget of academic units by an average of
3 percent and the budgets of non-academic units by an average of 5 percent.
A 52-hour furlough
— unpaid time off — will also go into effect for classified and professional
staff, effectively cutting their salaries by an average of 3 percent.
includes civil service employees, and professional staff includes non-faculty
In response to
budget constraints, the University will also not offer merit pay increases to
employees and will slash funding for ancillary programs like LSU Press and
the LSU Museum of Art by about $100,000 each.
Tuition will be
raised by 5 percent and other fee increases are expected as well.
[BACK TO TOP]
By Jonathan Tilove
WASHINGTON -- Dr. Regina Benjamin, a graduate of
Xavier and Tulane universities who has dedicated her career to providing
health care to the poor shrimping village of Bayou La Batre, Ala.,
was named Monday as President Barack Obama's choice for surgeon general of
the United States.
Speaking under a
beating sun at a noontime Rose Garden press conference, Obama stressed the
desperate importance of enacting health care changes in this Congress, saying
"if there's anyone who understands the urgency of meeting this challenge
in a personal and powerful way, it's the woman who will become our nation's
next surgeon general, Dr. Regina Benjamin."
spoke with compelling simplicity about what brought her to her calling and
why her family could not be with her for this crowning moment in an already
health issues are very personal to me," Benjamin said. "My father
died with diabetes and hypertension. My older brother, and only sibling, died
at age 44 of HIV-related illness. My mother died of lung cancer, because as a
young girl, she wanted to smoke just like her twin brother could. My Uncle
Buddy, my mother's twin, who's one of the few surviving black World War II
prisoners of war, is at home right now, on oxygen, struggling for each breath
because of the years of smoking."
"While I . .
. cannot change my family's past," Benjamin said, "I can be a voice
in the movement to improve our nation's health care and our nation's health
for our future."
Benjamin was born
in Mobile, Ala. Her appointment requires Senate
--- 'It's a great
"It's a good
day, it's a great day," said Norman Francis, president of Xavier University
in New Orleans,
where Benjamin graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1979. "I
think the president made a great choice. Regina is a very special person."
Francis said he
was telling well-wishers all day that "this is for all those mothers and
fathers who worked their fingers to the bone to make opportunities for their
sons and daughters."
"She is the
model for what the payoff really is," said Francis, who said Benjamin is
due to join the Xavier board this fall. "She was never about making
money but about helping people."
always very, very concerned with people and I always thought that she would
be the kind of doctor I would want to go to," said Xavier professor J.W.
Carmichael, who was Benjamin's pre-med adviser at Xavier.
at Xavier with ambitions to be a pharmacist and left, after graduating in
1979, to attend medical school, first at Morehouse School of Medicine and
then the University of Alabama at Birmingham,
from which she graduated in 1984.
She also received
an MBA from Tulane
School of Business in 1991, even as she was shuttling back and forth to Bayou
La Batre setting up the rural health clinic she
founded in 1990.
great joy and a first-class individual," said James McFarland, dean of
the Freeman School. Benjamin was named the
school's outstanding alumni in 2002, and spoke at commencement that summer.
"What she did was give back."
clinic again ---
The story of her
commitment to her rural health clinic reads like a Sisyphean parable: wiped
out three times -- twice by hurricane and once by fire -- and even now
rebuilding for the third time.
As Obama recounted
the story Monday: "When Hurricane Georges destroyed the clinic in 1998,
she made house calls to all her patients while it was rebuilt.
Katrina destroyed it again and left most of her town homeless in 2005, she
mortgaged her house and maxed our her credit cards
to rebuild that clinic for a second time.
She tended to
those who had been wounded in the storm, and when folks needed medicine, she
asked the pharmacists to send the bill her way."
Regina's clinic was about to open for the third time, and a fire burned it to
the ground before it could serve the first patient, well, you can guess what
Dr. Benjamin did," Obama said. "With help from her community, she
is rebuilding it again."
--- 'Did I say
that right?' ---
smoothly fluent president stumbled a bit when trying to pronounce Bayou La Batre. Slowing down as he approached the name of the
town, he offered a tentative attempt to pronounce it correctly and then
stopped to ask Benjamin, "Did I say that right?"
off-mike, said that it was close enough, Obama, not satisfied, paused,
"Well, tell me how to say it."
She did. He
repeated after her, adding, to some laughter, "That's in Alabama, people."
Obama noted that
the small town of 2,500 is now a diverse blend of black, white and Asian,
with a mix of refugees from Vietnam,
Cambodia and Laos,
being drawn to its shrimping industry. Bayou La Batre is best known as the fictional home of Benjamin
Buford "Bubba" Blue, Forrest Gump's comrade-in-arms in Vietnam.
After the war, Gump fulfills his buddy's ambitions by moving to the Bayou for
a while and becoming a successful shrimp boat captain.
While Benjamin has
eschewed material success for her commitment to service -- making house calls
in her pickup truck -- Obama noted in his introduction that her good deeds
have not gone unnoticed.
"In 1995, she
became the first physician under 40 and the first African-American woman to
be named to the American Medical Association's board of trustees. In 2002,
she became president of Alabama's
State Medical Association. And she has received numerous awards and
recognitions, including the MacArthur Genius Award," said the president.
"It's very impressive."
[BACK TO TOP]
BATON ROUGE –
Stimulant medications used to treat Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder,
or ADHD, are often assumed to improve memory and make a person smarter, but
experts have found that is not the case. Researchers in the Department of
Psychology at LSU, including Professor Claire Advokat,
are working to find out why.
With a recently
funded grant from the Spencer Foundation, Advokat
and her colleague, Associate
Professor Sean Lane, are hoping to discover why
drugs that are well-known to improve attention and concentration don’t have
more benefit for long-term, academic achievement.
In a recently
published guest editorial in the Journal of Attention Disorders, Advokat outlined the evidence that ADHD medications don’t
appear to have the long-term effects that many people think they do.
“Given their well-established benefit for
increasing attention and concentration, it seems counterintuitive that ADHD
medications are not more effective in improving academic and occupational
attainment,” Advokat said. “It is time to address
this question and clarify the cognitive effects, as opposed to the
activating, arousing and energizing actions of these drugs.”
studies, by adulthood, hyperactive children have been found to have less
education, achieve lower grades, fail more of their courses and were more
often retained in grade or failed to graduate than control groups. However,
since stimulant drugs are effective in treating adults with ADHD, there has
been an increase in the pharmacological treatment of adults, including
“Regardless of whether the stimulants are
used legally or not, most students report that they use them to improve
academic performance, specifically to improve concentration, organization and
the ability to stay up longer and study,” Advokat
said. “However, in addition to the health-related concerns about stimulant
diversion and misuse among undergraduates and other adults, there is growing
debate about the ethical implications of using drugs to improve academic
The discussion of
the morality of “cognitive enhancement” has become the subject of several
research editorials. According to Advokat’s
research, the assumption that stimulants truly are cognitive enhancers does
not seem to be questioned. This is in spite of some evidence that college
students with ADHD have lower grade point averages and are less likely to
graduate than their non-ADHD peers, and medication does not seem to improve
their academic experience.
that during a classroom period, students do sit still, pay attention and
complete more problems or tasks with more accuracy when given ADHD
medications. However long-term academic achievement hasn’t been shown to be
improved. Numerous studies on this area report that standardized scores
aren’t improved and “ultimate educational attainment” isn’t shown.
“There is a paradox, then, in regard to the
use of stimulants as ADHD medications, namely, the concern raised about the
ethical quandary of using a drug to become ‘smarter,’ in the face of so much
evidence that the currently available drugs don’t make you ‘smarter,’” Advokat said in the editorial. “Admittedly, much of the
discussion in the literature specifically refers to the increased alertness
and reduction of fatigue characteristic of the stimulants (and associated
drugs, such as modafinil), rather than improved
cognition per se.”
Advokat agrees that intuitively, it would seem
logical that drugs that improve attention and concentration should also
promote learning and academic achievement. But, as studies have shown, that
isn’t the case.
“This does not mean that the development of
cognitive-enhancing drugs is impossible or undesirable. On the contrary,
interest in designing such drugs is intense … And there is every reason to
believe that the search will be successful, with the focused efforts of
numerous pharmaceutical firms exploring a variety of approaches. However, we
will reach that goal faster, and perhaps more
safely, if we remain clear about the efficacy of current drug options for
ADHD,” Advokat concluded.
editorial appeared in the May 2009 edition of the Journal of Attention
Disorders and can be found at http://jad.sagepub.com/content/vol12/issue6/.
More information on the Journal of Attention Disorders can be found at
Advokat received her bachelor’s degree in
psychology in 1969 from New
She earned her master’s degree in 1972 and Ph.D. in 1975, both from Rutgers University. From 1975-1978, she
completed her National Institute of Health Postdoctoral Fellowship in the
Division of Neurobiology and Behavior at the College of Physicians
and Surgeons of Columbia University.
Advokat came to LSU in 1989 after teaching at the University of Illinois
at the Medical Center
and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Her research interests include understanding the clinical effectiveness and
the mechanism of action of drugs used in the treatment of mental illness,
such as the antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers and anxiolytics. This includes medications used for
behavioral disorders as well, such as ADHD and dementia. Her secondary
research interests include the ethics of conducting research investigations
and substance abuse.
[BACK TO TOP]
By Bill Barrow
ELIOT KAMENITZ/THE TIMES PICAYUNE
Exterior of the New Orleans Adolescent
Hospital at 210 State Street.
As the state
continues the process of closing an Uptown mental health facility and moving
its inpatient services to the north shore, a group of unidentified plaintiffs
is asking a court to halt the action.
The lawsuit, filed
Friday in Orleans Parish Civil District Court against Gov. Bobby Jindal, state Health Secretary Alan Levine and others,
contends that closing the New
Hospital would deny the
legally protected rights of patients and employees.
The plaintiffs are
shielded with fictitious names. Attorney Willie Zanders
said he will provide actual names to the courts and the defendants before the
The suit cites Louisiana law giving
mental health patients specific rights to family visitations, employment
opportunities, access to a private attorney and private health professionals,
among other protections. The petition also says that closing would threaten
the patients' and workers' constitutionally protected right not to be denied
"life, liberty or property, except by due process of law."
Levine said he had
not been served with the documents.
At the close of
business Monday, Judge Nadine Ramsey had not scheduled a hearing date to
debate a preliminary injunction, which if ordered would be followed by
proceedings to decide whether to block the closing permanently.
Levine said the
state Civil Service Commission is still reviewing his agency's closing plan,
which would involve layoffs for some employees and transfers for others. J.T. Lane,
Levine's deputy chief of staff, said details of the personnel plan could come
The targeted NOAH
closing date is Sept. 1.
patients have been moved yet to Southeast
in Mandeville, Lane said, though three empty beds were reallocated to the St. Tammany facility Monday.
NOAH's patient census as of Monday was 17 adults
and 13 minors.
Jindal endorsed closing NOAH in the original
budget proposal he submitted to the Legislature in February. But lawmakers
disagreed, using a supplemental appropriations bill to direct $14.2 million
for inpatient services at NOAH, a lower amount than what the hospital spent
in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The governor used
his line-item veto authority to reject the language requiring that the money
be spent at NOAH. That left the Department of Health and Hospitals to carry
out its original plan of shifting the Uptown outpatient services to two new
clinics in the city -- one in Mid-City, the other in Algiers -- while moving the 35 inpatient
beds to Southeast.
repeatedly said that his agency is redistributing mental health services, not
said at the time of the veto that legislators' proposed mental health
spending would have created a shortfall because the per-day cost of inpatient
beds at NOAH is higher than at Southeast.
could come into play as part of Zanders' lawsuit.
stipulates that preliminary injunctions are appropriate to prevent
"irreparable injury, loss, or damage." But the law adds that the
court cannot compel a government agency to spend itself into a deficit or
spend public money in violation of how it was appropriated by the Legislature.
Zanders said he anticipates a state argument that
keeping NOAH open would eventually force deficit spending. But, he said,
"That's a political argument, not a legal argument. . . . The
Legislature appropriated money."
inpatient cost, Zanders said, is higher at NOAH
than at Southeast because the state has maintained 35 beds at the facility
licensed for more than 120. "They could drive down that cost by opening
more beds here," he said.
The New Orleans
City Council will host a public meeting today on the potential effects of the
NOAH closing. The two-hour session is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. in the
council chambers at City Hall
[BACK TO TOP]
U.S. can do better on health
health care, leave bad enough alone," Other Opinions, June 28.
This George Will
article has inane statistics. Here are useful ones:
hospitals have a 12 percent higher death rate than non-profit hospitals.
Citizens of 34
nations with national health care live longer than Americans.
37th for health system performance by the World Health Organization.
lower odds of surviving colorectal cancer and childhood leukemia than
Same day access to
primary-care physicians in the U.S.
is 33 percent, 41 percent in England,
54 percent in Australia
and 60 percent in New
Zealand with national health care.
Health care hurts
American businesses. The average employer-based family plans cost $9,979 in
2005. Our auto companies can't compete with companies in Japan and Europe
with national health care.
Our health care
costs from 50 percent to 100 percent more than other countries due to waste.
administrative costs are 3 percent. Private insurance company costs are 35
percent to 75 percent due to ads, executives' golden parachutes,
congressional lobbyists and thousands of employees to turn down patient's
health care requests.
[BACK TO TOP]
by David Espo and Erica Werner, The Associated Press
/ The Associated Press
President Barack Obama talks about health care reform
in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 13, 2009.
WASHINGTON (AP) --
House Democrats are moving ahead with sweeping health care legislation as
President Barack Obama prods a Senate committee chairman to take faster
action on a companion measure.
on his top domestic priority, Obama told Sen. Max Baucus he wants legislation
ready by week's end in the Finance Committee that Baucus chairs, according to
numerous Democratic officials.
said Obama made his wishes known directly to Baucus, D-Mont., at a White
House meeting Monday attended by administration officials and senior
deadline underscored Obama's determination to push legislation through both
houses of Congress before lawmakers go home for their August summer break.
against us. We are going to make this thing happen," the president told
reporters earlier Monday, fresh from an overseas trip during which the
momentum behind his health care agenda slipped.
The officials who
described the private meeting did so on condition of
anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss private meetings.
Scott Mulhauser, a spokesman for Baucus, said the senior
Democrat has stressed that his committee will be ready when it has completed
a proposal "that can ensure quality, affordable care for every American,
lower costs -- and pass the Senate."
from conservative and moderate Democrats in the House, prospects for quick
action are better there than in the Senate.
Democrats expect to introduce legislation Tuesday that would prohibit
insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums on the
basis of pre-existing medical conditions.
The measure would
spend billions of dollars subsidizing lower-income individuals and families
who cannot afford coverage in an attempt to cut dramatically into the ranks
of the uninsured.
Its total price
tag remains unknown, but to comply with another presidential priority, it
would rely on cuts in Medicare and Medicaid to begin slowing the rate of
growth in health care spending overall.
The measure is
expected to impose a fee on large companies that fail to offer insurance, and
individuals also would have to pay a penalty if they refused to purchase affordable
A new income tax
on the wealthy, estimated to raise more than $500 billion over the next
decade, would help pay for the bill.
completing the measure have been slowed in recent days by criticism from a
group of moderate and conservative Democrats known as the Blue Dog Coalition.
Obama met with a Blue Dog delegation on Monday evening, and Rep. Henry Waxman
one of the committee chairmen involved in drafting the House bill, sat down
with them separately.
Rep. Mike Ross,
D-Ark., head of the Blue Dogs' health care task force, said later that some
of the group's concerns were being addressed -- but not enough so they could
support the House measure without further improvements.
Ross noted that
more than a half-dozen members of the group have seats on the committee that
Waxman chairs, enough to hold up passage.
He said that in
one concession to the Blue Dogs, Democratic leaders have indicated that
they're increasing the size of the exemption for small businesses from a
requirement for employers to provide health care to their employees. The
exemption is expected to increase from businesses with payrolls of $100,000
to those with payrolls of $250,000, Ross said, which he characterized as
"probably not enough."
The group still
has concerns about Medicare payments to doctors and other health care
providers, rural health and other issues.
In the Finance
Committee some highly controversial issues remain unresolved, including how
to pay for the bill and a Democratic demand for the government to sell
insurance in competition with private industry, a proposal Republicans oppose
strongly. Unlike the other congressional committees working on health care,
Finance members have been laboring to produce a bipartisan bill.
A second Senate
committee, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, was pushing to complete
work Tuesday on a partisan bill that would create a government-run health
plan to compete with private insurers and require employers to provide
coverage -- but probably could attract little or no Republican support.
[BACK TO TOP]
Children's, Touro reach deal to form two-hospital system
By Bill Barrow
Hospital and Touro Infirmary have finalized an
agreement, announced in February, that creates a two-hospital system called
the Louisiana Children's Medical Center, with Children's top administrator
Steve Worley serving as chief executive officer.
corporation's governing board, which includes members from the existing
Children's and Touro boards, also announced the
hiring of former Tulane
executive James Montgomery to lead the Touro
campus, which has struggled financially since Hurricane Katrina.
Montgomery, whose 30 years in health care has spanned
for-profit, not-for-profit and academic operations, comes to New
Orleans from HCA-owned
Corpus Christi Medical Center.
He has served as CEO of that four-hospital system since September 2007.
HCA, a for-profit
hospital enterprise, also holds a controlling interest in Tulane Medical
Center, where Montgomery
spent seven years before leaving for Texas.
He also spent time running the Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria
and the Central Louisiana Health Care Partnership, a for-profit venture
between HCA and the Rapides Foundation.
Montgomery succeeds Michael Sniffen,
who served as interim chief executive from mid-2008 until last month, when he
departed for a job at St. Mary's Hospital in New Jersey.
The new system did
not immediately release the documents formalizing the Children's-Touro deal, but Touro
spokeswoman Christine Albert said the framework is the same as was unveiled
earlier this year.
Children's and Touro will continue operating as separate nonprofit
entities, each keeping its board, with representatives of the two panels
forming the system board. Children's also is committed to $100 million in
capital investments at Touro over the next five
years, with Worley predicting the spending would enable Touro
to attract patients and return to a net positive income by end of the
Touro had net operating losses in two out of the
five years before 2005 -- when it lost $40.5 million -- and three out of the
four years since. Twice since Katrina, bond rating agencies have downgraded Touro's bond status.
meanwhile, boasts perhaps the most flush balance
sheet of any hospital in the region. Children's officials said the hospital
had $215 million in net operating revenue in 2008. At the end of 2006, the
latest available information from its publicly available IRS filings,
Children's had investments and cash reserves approaching $700 million.
The hospital will
in coming years, however, have to deal with lower reimbursement rates paid to
health-care providers that serve Medicaid patients, who make up a
considerable portion of Children's patrons.
[BACK TO TOP]
first case of the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, was confirmed Monday.
The student is in
recovery off campus, and no classes or scheduled events have been canceled.
“The LSU Emergency
Operations Center is closely monitoring the campus community for cases of
swine flu and has been doing so ever since the initial outbreak in Mexico,”
said University Spokeswoman Kristine Calongne in an
e-mail to The Daily Reveille.
Calongne said the University has been posting
updates and messages to both the LSU homepage and a special swine flu Web
page to keep the campus community informed.
“LSU has also
informed students that they can go to the Student Health
Center if they feel
ill, and that they should immediately be checked by a doctor if they
experience flu-like symptoms,” Calongne said.
East Baton Rouge
Parish had 34 confirmed cases of swine flu as of July 2.
[BACK TO TOP]
By Karina Donica
While a robust
debate about health-care reform is taking place on Capitol Hill, a group in Alexandria is trying to
raise awareness of the issue, particularly about the need for broader health
insurance coverage for children.
A group of about
75 youngsters and adults representing the Children's Defense Fund Freedom
Schools program took to the streets early Monday featuring signs that read
"Health coverage for all kids."
The march, which
began at the Christian Love Baptist Church and ended at Frank O. Hunter Park
on Willow Glen River Road in Alexandria, is symbolic of the organization's
support for heath-care reform, said Sheila Robinson, one of the organizers of
"We have over
nine million children (across the U.S.) that are uninsured,"
and "no matter what a family's income is, everybody with children should
have access to health care," Robinson said while trailing a crowd of
youngsters dancing and singing in the streets.
The march was held
in conjunction with the first summit of the Children's Defense Fund Freedom
Schools program, a summer enrichment program established in Alexandria through a $60,000 grant via the
Louisiana Department of Social Services.
The grant allows
50 children in the community to participate in the program, which involves
enrichment activities focused on literacy, community involvement and
health-care education among other matters.
year, hopefully, we're going to be able to do 100 kids," Robinson said.
march, the group gathered to sing and dance in what's known as a Harambee, a Kiswahili word that means "let's pull it
heard from several speakers, including Rep. Herbert Dixon, D-Alexandria, and
the Rev. Clarence Dupar Jr., president of the
United Educational Missionary Baptist Association.
important that you exercise, that you take care of the body that God has
blessed you with. You only get one chance in life, you only have one
body," Dupar told the audience in urging
youngsters to avoid unhealthy lifestyles. "In order to take care of your
body, you must refrain from putting (unhealthy) things in your body."
information provided at the summit, 46 million Americans, including 9 million
children, have no health-insurance coverage, a figure that's increasing due
to the recession, officials said.
health-coverage costs for employees have risen, while the number of employers
offering coverage has decreased, Robinson said.
health-care system is crying out for reform, and our families and children
are crying out for help," Robinson said, echoing the words of a message
by Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children Defense Fund
Robinson said she
is aware of many pregnant women in Cenla who can't
afford to get proper medical care due to high insurance cost and many
children who aren't covered because their parents just can afford it.
Spencena Moji of Alexandria can relate to that.
The mother of two
said health-insurance costs have kept her from being able to afford coverage
for both of her daughters.
sickle cell disease" since she was born, Moji said, referring to her
11-year-old daughter, Denesha Milton, who is
covered through a state program.
Thanks to that
program, Moji said, she has been able to pay for the more than $600 a year in
medication for Denesha. "Other than that, I
don't think I would probably be able to afford it."
Wendy Roy, of Cenla Medication Access Program and wife of Alexandria
Mayor Jacques Roy, attended the event.
She said she was
excited to hear about the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program
being established in Alexandria.
Any opportunity to
keep young people engaged and involved in activities that promote good health
and learning is always beneficial, Roy
She said she is
glad to know there are some options for children's health coverage in Louisiana, such a LaCHIP, which offers low-cost or no-cost health-care
1992, the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program was inspired by
Ella Baker's Freedom Schools, which began in 1964 during the civil rights
movement. There are currently 142 programs across the nation.
Robinson said the
march is also part of the first Children's Defense Fund
Freedom Schools program summit held in Alexandria.
To participate in
the Children's Defense Fund Freedom Schools program, call (318) 443-8715 or
(318) 709-1478. Applications for the 2010 summer program will be taken in August.
[BACK TO TOP]
Meg Farris /
NEW ORLEANS – Addiction to prescription pain
medication has been in the news lately with the death of Michael Jackson.
Local doctors say this area has one of the highest rates of prescription
addiction in the country.
Like so many other
teens, Kevin Gardere drank,
used and abused alcohol. In an instant, a month after he graduated from high
school in 1988, his life changed. Drunk, he crashed into a telephone pole and
into a house.
"I did not
have vital signs and had a compound fracture of my femur and lost my kidney,
my left kidney and my spleen and was in the hospital for a couple of
months," said Gardere.
Many years of
pain, infections and surgeries followed. In 2006, he got bad news. That leg,
shattered from the wreck, could no longer be saved. It was amputated, and
39-year-old Kevin has a prosthetic leg.
But Kevin had
another very serious illness. One that is harder to see than a compound
fracture. "I was using and drinking myself to death," he said.
Any doctor who
looked at Kevin's leg x-rays saw the culprit of pain. So he used and
manipulated doctors to get and abuse prescription pills.
Demerol, Percodan, Vicodin,
really what ever I could get," said Gardere.
He lost his wife,
his infant daughter and his job as a high school coach and athletic director.
But studies show pleading, begging or even love can not fix this illness of
became the most important thing, and it took precedent over everything
else," he added. "It's like a living hell. It becomes something you
have to have in your system to live.”
drug is more important than anything. They can't stop using and that is sort
of the key element of addiction," said Jim Becnel.
Social worker Jim Becnel is an assistant professor of psychiatry at LSU Health
and he said it's not just celebrities. Many here in southeast Louisiana are walking
in Kevin's shoes.
drug abuse, particularly pain killers, is the number two drug of abuse in the
country. Only marijuana tops it," said Becnel.
Denial is a
typical symptom of addiction. The brain can't see the illness. So what got
Kevin help? Loved ones intervened, told him to talk to a friend at Bridge
House. It took two years, but at this treatment center, he found people who
understood first hand these words.
alcoholic. I'm an addict and need help," admitted Gardere.
"You start to be filled with some hope, hope that you probably haven't
experienced in years."
Science shows you
don't have to hit rock bottom for treatment to help. This is an illness of
the organ of behavior, the brain, not a moral or character flaw.
definitely, often times we look at doing nothing as a positive thing and that
is usually not the case. It usually doesn't resolve itself on it's own. Without some intervention, it will continue to
get worse," said Becnel.
And there's good
news. No matter if you are forced by your loved ones, forced by the law or
voluntarily go to treatment, recovery rates are the same.
Kevin is now
remarried, has a son and a great relationship with his daughter, and is
working at Bridge House. True blessings he said, and he can now see through
the eyes of recovery.
Studies show when
people abuse prescription pain killers, their own brains stop making natural,
pleasure chemicals. That is why people feel the need to take more and more
pills to get through the day and feel normal.
[BACK TO TOP]
USA TODAY | 07.14.09
By Susan Page, USA
WASHINGTON - Most Americans say it's important to
overhaul health care this year, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds, but they are
less enthusiastic about some of the proposals to pay for it.
And while a
majority say controlling costs should be the legislation's top goal, more
than nine in 10 oppose limits on getting whatever tests or treatments they
and their doctors think are necessary.
underscore the difficult path ahead for the White House and Congress as the
health care debate enters crunch time. President Obama, who has called for
the House and Senate to pass bills before their August recess, met Monday
with two key congressional chairmen to try to hammer out financing for the $1
naysayers and cynics who think that this is not going to happen, don't bet
against us," Obama said at the White House.
One advantage for
the president: A third of those surveyed say they trust him and congressional
Democrats most when it comes to changing health care, compared with 10% who
choose congressional Republicans. Another 45% trust doctors and hospitals the
The poll of 3,026
adults, surveyed Friday through Sunday, has a margin of error of +/-2
percentage points. Some questions, asked of half the sample, have an error
margin of +/-3 points.
By 56%-33%, those
surveyed endorse the idea of enacting major health care changes this year.
Just one in four say it's not important to them.
When it comes to
financing the costs, six of 10 favor the idea of
requiring employers to provide health insurance for their workers or pay a
fee instead. Increasing income taxes on upper-income Americans, an approach backed
by House Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is endorsed by 58%.
Just over half support taxing sugary soft drinks.
though, those surveyed oppose taxing health care benefits above a certain
level - Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., had floated that idea -
and even more are against cutting Medicare costs, a provision of House and
is that Congress is trying to solve two problems simultaneously: save money
and insure more people," says Robert Blendon,
a professor of health policy at Harvard. Those focused on costs are likely to
have little tolerance for paying higher taxes to cover the uninsured, he
In the poll, 52%
choose controlling costs as more important; 42% cite expanding coverage.
[BACK TO TOP]
The New York Times | 07.13.09
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG and ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON — President Obama had a message on Monday
for critics who think he has lost momentum in his bid to overhaul health
care: “Don’t bet against us.”
After a weeklong
overseas trip that pushed him to the fringes of Washington’s health care debate, Mr. Obama
moved aggressively to reclaim control. He summoned top Democrats to the White
House to urge them to stick to his legislative timetable — he wants the House
and the Senate to pass bills before the August recess — and appeared in the
Rose Garden to cast himself as a kind of sheriff who had just come back to
“I just want to
put everybody on notice, because there was a lot of chatter during the week
that I was gone,” Mr. Obama said. “We are going to get this done. Inaction is
not an option. And for those naysayers and cynics
who think that this is not going to happen, don’t bet against us. We are
going to make this thing happen, because the American people desperately need
suggested that the White House was frustrated at the pace of work on Capitol
tentatively plan to unveil their legislation on Tuesday, with three
committees planning to take up work on the bill this week or early next. But
in the Senate, where work has already been under way for weeks, the process
has been slow. There, the health committee continues to vote on amendments,
while members of the Finance Committee struggle to figure out how to pay for
the legislation, whose estimated 10-year cost is more than $1 trillion.
session at the White House, the Finance Committee’s chairman, Senator Max
Baucus of Montana,
said Mr. Obama had made the case that passage before the recess was essential
if the two houses were to reconcile their versions of the bill and send final
legislation to him by mid-October, as is his goal.
barometer is going up,” said Mr. Baucus, who had once hoped to move a bill
out of his committee in June.
Mr. Obama is
seeking the most ambitious overhaul of the American health care system since
Medicare was created in 1965. He wants legislation to cut health care costs
while extending coverage to the nation’s 46 million uninsured.
But there is
little the president can do at this stage to expedite the legislative
process, short of taking a position on some of the most contentious matters
under consideration. He has so far shown little inclination to do that, even
though some Democrats say they would welcome more guidance on how to pay for
One idea under
consideration, a surtax on high-income people, has
created a rift among Democrats. The surtax was proposed last week by the
chairman of the House Ways
and Means Committee, Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York,
and was defended before the White House meeting Monday by Speaker Nancy
Pelosi. The tax, Ms. Pelosi said, “will be at the high end and will not touch
the middle class.”
But there is
little support for it among Senate Democrats. Senator Ben Nelson, Democrat of
Nebraska, said his constituents “are worried that it’s an unfair tax,” and
Mr. Baucus, who said the idea was discussed at the White House gathering,
made clear that it was unlikely to be included in any Senate proposal.
“The House is
going to do what it thinks best,” he said, “and we in the Senate are going to
enact a version we think is best.”
contentious idea comes from Mr. Baucus himself: to help pay for the health
bill by taxing some employer-provided health benefits.
Mr. Baucus has
expressed interest in such a tax for months and until last week was drafting
a proposal that could have generated more than $300 billion over a decade.
But labor unions strenuously oppose taxing health benefits, saying they have
given up wage increases to secure them, and last week the idea ran into a
roadblock when Senator Harry Reid of Nevada,
the Democratic leader, expressed opposition to it.
Even so, Mr.
Baucus said Monday that the benefits tax was still on the table. “I won’t say
it’s sliding off,” he said, though conceding that “it’s further on the side.”
Mr. Obama has not
taken a position on either the Rangel or the Baucus proposal, but the
employee benefits tax could be politically problematic for him. During his
campaign, he promised that as president he would not raise taxes on
households earning $250,000 a year or less. On Monday, after weeks of hemming
and hawing from the White House about whether he intended to keep that
promise, the president himself repeated it.
campaign, I promised health care reform that would control costs, expand
coverage and ensure choice,” Mr. Obama said. “And I promised that Americans
making $250,000 a year or less would not pay more in taxes. These are
promises that we’re keeping as reform moves forward.”
David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting.
[BACK TO TOP]
The New York Times | 07.13.09
By RANDI HUTTER
Jeremy M. Lange
for The New York Times
Margie Hodgin, a nurse in
Kernersville, N.C., had struggled to lose weight since she was a teenager.
But it wasn't until she turned 40 that she finally took off the extra pounds,
and then some.
Margie Hodgin, a nurse in Kernersville,
N.C., had struggled to lose
weight since she was a teenager. But it wasn’t until she turned 40 that she
finally took off the extra pounds, and then some.
“It was a real
sense of empowerment, that I can do this all on my own and no one is helping
me, and I’m achieving what I want and fitting into my clothes better,” she
said of her initial delight in shedding the excess weight.
But what started
as discipline transformed into disorder. Ms. Hodgin
would not eat more than 200 calories a meal, and if she did, she made herself
vomit. She surfed pro-ANA, or pro-anorexia, Web
sites for advice. She knew that what she was doing was wrong — more like
adolescent, she said — but she figured she was only hurting herself.
chronic state of starvation was triggering wild mood swings. It was only
after she and her husband had several therapy sessions that she came to
realize that her eating disorder was wreaking havoc on him, as well as their
“At a certain point,”
she said, “you cross that line and you can’t help what you are doing, and the
eating disorder owns you. I lost my bearings on reality and maturity.”
No one has precise
statistics on who is affected by eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and
bulimia, often marked by severe weight loss, or binge eating, which can lead
to obesity. But experts say that in the past 10 years they are treating an
increasing number of women over 30 who are starving themselves, abusing
laxatives, exercising to dangerous extremes and engaging in all of the
self-destructive activities that had, for so long, been considered teenage
The recent surge
in older women at eating disorder clinics is not a reflection of failed
treatment, experts say, but rather a signal that these disorders may crop up
at any age. But while some diagnoses, like Ms. Hodgin’s,
are not made until these women are in their 40s, they may have battled food
issues for years.
The Renfrew Center,
one of the largest eating disorder clinics, with centers throughout the United States,
started a treatment track geared to the 30-and-older set in 2005. The Laureate Psychiatric
Hospital in Tulsa,
Okla., is about to start a
Cynthia M. Bulik, director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill,
said her clinic used to have about one older patient at a time. Now, she
said, about half the inpatients are midlife women. And the executive director
of the Remuda Ranch Treatment Programs in
Wickenburg, Ariz., Edward J. Cumella, said that
clinic had had a 400 percent increase in admissions of patients 40 and older
since the late 1990s.
“I think the
degree of despair we are seeing among adult women about their bodies is
unrivaled,” said Margo Maine, co-author of “The Body Myth: Adult Women and
the Pressure to Be Perfect” (Wiley, 2005). “Eating disorders creep up during
periods of developmental transitions, so the peak had been 13 to 15 and 17 to
19 — moving into adolescence and moving into college. Now, we are seeing them
again during or after pregnancy and as women hit other life phases, such as
No one knows what
triggers eating disorders. Emerging studies point to altered brain signals,
but it is tricky to decipher whether the defective biochemistry is a cause or
a result of poor eating. The reigning theory is the same as it is for so many
syndromes with no known cause: some people are born with genes that make them
highly vulnerable to environmental stimuli. “Genetics loads the gun, and
environment pulls the trigger,” is what the experts always say at the eating
disorder conferences, said Caitlin Scafati, a
recovered anorexic. And yet no one has identified the genes.
Gail Schoenbach, a 48-year-old mother of three from Warren, N.J.,
said she had been bulimic since she was 18 but did not get treatment until
her 40s, when her friends alerted her husband and he started calling
treatment centers. “I was very embarrassed and scared and humiliated and
ashamed that I had lied about it,” she said.
Sharon Pikus, a 64-year-old grandmother from Manhasset, N.Y.,
had struggled since childhood with bulimia. But it wasn’t until her 40s, when
her children were grown, that she finally got help. Of being bulimic, she
said, “I just couldn’t be it anymore — I don’t know how else to put it.” She
was better for a time, then had a setback 10 years later and was treated
again. She considers herself recovered today, but says it is a constant
fads like weeklong fasts are supported by our thin-obsessed culture, said
Lynn Grefe, the chief executive of the National
Eating Disorders Association. She added that women who fall into the diet
trap of overexercising and avoiding family meals
are setting dangerous examples for their children.
“A problem is that
friends, and even doctors, get used to seeing someone in their overly skinny
state and may not recognize their habits and physique as dangerously
unhealthy,” said Dr. David Herzog, the director of the Harris
Center for Education and Advocacy in
Eating Disorders at Massachusetts
He is also the endowed professor in the field of eating disorders at Harvard Medical School.
who often must be coerced into treatment, many older women come on their own
accord. One of the greatest motivators is having a teenage daughter, because
many parents start to worry that their child may mimic their behavior, said
Craig Johnson, director of the Eating Disorders Program at Laureate Psychiatric
Hospital in Tulsa.
that older women may be more likely to enter treatment is that after years of
anorexia or bulimia, they finally realize that their coping strategies
backfired. What they thought would bring happiness never did.
Yet making that
first difficult step to admit to the problem does not make recuperation easy.
In fact, for some older patients, the path can be even more difficult than it
is for teenagers. Therapy involves unraveling years of entrenched habits and
jettisoning an eating-disorder identity that had been with them for decades.
And the first step in getting better — healthy eating — often seems an
insurmountable task to those who are terrified of food and gaining weight.
“This is asking
these patients a great deal,” said G. Terence Wilson, professor of psychology
at Rutgers University
in New Jersey.
“Being intelligent and successful doesn’t immunize against eating disorders.”
Ms. Hodgin, who is now 45, credits her recovery in part to a
trial at the University
of North Carolina,
where researchers are studying whether family therapy works as well for
adults as it does for teenagers with the disorder. Bringing her husband to
therapy sessions, she said, “made me realize how much I was breaking him
down, and the resentment I had of people trying to make me better.”
Every day remains
a battle, Ms. Hodgin said, and she still feels
strong urges to weigh less.
“But I’ve been
able to see the damage I left in the wake of it, and I can’t bear to see what
I’ve put my kids through,” she said. “You can’t have an eating disorder and
think it doesn’t affect your family.”
[BACK TO TOP]