How the Democrats want to fix your healthcare- a review of the party platform

“Democrats have been fighting to secure universal health care for the American people for generations, and we are proud to be the party that passed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Being stronger together means finally achieving that goal. We are going to fight to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.” quote from the Democratic party platform

If you consider health care an important issue for the upcoming presidential election this year, you are in good company. In a Gallup poll December 2019, 81% of those surveyed considered it very or extremely important. Following closely in importance were terrorism/national security , gun policy, and education.

As of March 5, two candidates have survived the caucuses and primaries- former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders. They both have health care plans which reflect the basic position of the Democratic party.

What do the political parties say about healthcare?

So we’ll focus on the two major party platforms and see what they say about health care. My intent is to present a non-partisan review since this blog does not endorse any party or candidate. If my reviews seem biased toward any specific viewpoint, that is unintentional.

I’ll summarize what I consider the highlights but encourage you to read the entire documents. I’ll include points that express the party’s positions as well as its proposals.

The Democratic Platform on health

Since they are the challengers this year, I will start with the Democratic party platform; the Republican position will be in a separate post.

The photos are for illustration only and are not associated with the platform or the party.

This party platform was voted on and passed by the membership at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in 2016. The platform will be updated and re-approved at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

First, let’s read the introduction to the platform on health.

ENSURE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL AMERICANS

“Democrats have been fighting to secure universal health care for the American people for generations, and we are proud to be the party that passed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Being stronger together means finally achieving that goal. We are going to fight to make sure every American has access to quality, affordable health care.

We will tackle the problems that remain in our health care system, including cracking down on runaway prescription drug prices and addressing mental health with the same seriousness that we treat physical health. We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights, and stand up for Planned Parenthood. And we will tackle the epidemics of substance abuse and gun violence, which each claim tens of thousands of lives every year.”

EMERGENCY-sign
Photo by Pixabay

Securing Universal Health Care

Democrats believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and our health care system should put people before profits.

Americans should be able to access public coverage through a public option and those over 55 should be able to opt in to Medicare.

Democrats will

empower the states to use innovation waivers under the ACA to develop unique locally tailored approaches to health coverage

work to end other practices that lead to out-of-control medical debt , repeal the excise tax on high-cost health insurance, reducing out-of-pocket expenses, and capping prescription drug costs

fight against insurers trying to impose excessive premium increases

fight any attempts by Republicans to privatize, voucherize, or phase out Medicare as we know it

oppose Republican plans to slash funding and block grant Medicaid and SNAP

keep fighting until the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has been adopted in every state

Supporting Community Health Centers

We must renew and expand our commitment to Community Health Centers, as well as community mental health centers and family planning centers.

Democrats will

double funding for federally qualified community health centers over the next decade, to include primary care, mental health care, dental care, and low cost prescription drugs

fight to train and support public health workforce

encourage providers to work with underserved populations

create a comprehensive strategy to increase the pool of primary health care professionals

white capsules in front of a prescription bottle
Photo by Julie Viken on Pexels.com

Reducing Prescription Drug Costs

Democrats are committed to investing in the research, development, and innovation that creates lifesaving drugs and lowers overall health costs, but the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies is simply unacceptable.

Democrats will

crack down on price gouging by drug companies 

cap the amount Americans have to pay out-of-pocket every month on prescription drugs

prohibit anti-competitive “pay for delay” deals that keep generic drugs off the market

allow individuals, pharmacists, and wholesalers to import prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies in Canada and other countries with appropriate safety protections. 

Chanelle Case Borden, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in the National Cancer Institute’s Experimental Immunology Branch, vortexing DNA samples for further study.
Source: National Cancer Institute (NCI)Creator: Daniel Sone (photographer)
Date Created: September 2014

Cutting-Edge Medical Research

Democrats believe we must

accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way

make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones

recognize the critical importance of a fully-funded National Institutes of Health to accelerate the pace of medical progress

Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction

Democrats want to

confront the epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically the opioid crisis and other drugs plaguing our communities

expand access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery

help community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers

encourage full recovery and integration into society of those struggling with addiction  working to remove common barriers to gainful employment, housing, and education

fight to expand access to care for addiction services, and ensure that insurance coverage is equal to that for any other health conditions 

do more to educate our youth, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends, to intervene early to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction

help state and local leaders establish evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs

NIH IMAGE GALLERY

Treating Mental Health

We must treat mental health issues with the same care and seriousness that we treat issues of physical health, support a robust mental health workforce, and promote better integration of the behavioral and general health care systems. Recognizing that maintaining good mental health is critical to all people, including young people’s health and development.

Democrats will

work with health professionals to ensure that all children have access to mental health care

expand community-based treatment for substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions and fully enforce our parity law

create a national initiative around suicide prevention across the lifespan—to move toward the HHS-promoted Zero Suicide commitment

Supporting Those Living with Autism and their Families

Democrats believe that our country must make supporting the millions of individuals with autism and those diagnosed in the future and their families a priority.

Democrats will

conduct a nationwide early screening outreach campaign to ensure that all children, and in particular children from underserved backgrounds, can get screened for autism

expand services and support for adults and individuals transitioning into adulthood, including employment and housing assistance

push states to require health insurance coverage for autism services in private insurance plans as well as state marketplaces so that people with autism are not denied care

NIH IMAGE GALLERY-Credit: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health

Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice

Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion.

.

Democrats will

stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people 

continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment

combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff

defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender

address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors

support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including adoption and social support services, as well as protections for women against pregnancy discrimination

We are committed to creating a society where children are safe and can thrive physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. We recognize and support the importance of civil structures that are essential to creating this for every child

a man in a wheelchair

Ensuring Long-Term Care, Services, and Supports

Our country faces a long-term care crisis that prevents too many seniors and people with disabilities from being able to live with dignity at home or in their communities. The vast majority of people who are aging or living with a disability want to do so at home, but face challenges finding and affording the support they need to do so.

Democrats will

take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce

give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services, and supports

ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community

Entitled, “Adding Solution to an ELISA Plate”, this image was created by CDC Microbiologist, Pamela Cassiday, MS, of the Pertussis and Diphtheria Laboratory. Since 2010, members of the CDC Pertussis and Diphtheria Laboratory have conducted training courses in Latin America on laboratory diagnosis of pertussis. This photograph of pertussis serology training, was taken during a training course in Chile, and shows a student adding a solution to an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) plate, causing the change in color from blue to yellow. This photo earned Pamela the Second Place award in the 2013 CDC Connects Annual Public Health in Action Photo Contest, in the category of International Programs.This image is in the public domain and thus free of any copyright restrictions. As a matter of courtesy we request that the content provider be credited and notified in any public or private usage of this image.

Protecting and Promoting Public Health

Investment in our nation’s crumbling public health infrastructure is critical to ensuring preparedness for emerging threats; for preventing disease, illness, and injury in communities; and for promoting good health and wellbeing.

Democrats will

continue to oppose Republican attempts to cut public health services and funding

ensure adequate funding of public health education at the undergraduate, graduate, and medical school levels as well as adequate funding of residency training programs in public health, preventive medicine, and its subspecialties

fight for increased investments and coordination in public health to better address emerging threats as well as persistent needs across our country

pursue policies addressing these social factors (that cause poor health)  and empowering communities to respond to their most pressing health needs

women standing with arms around each other

Ending Violence Against Women

Democrats are committed to ending the scourge of violence against women wherever it occurs —whether in our homes, streets, schools, military, or elsewhere.

Democrats will

continue to support the Violence Against Women Act to provide law enforcement with the tools it needs to combat this problem

support comprehensive services for survivors of violence and increase prevention efforts in our communities and on our campuses

provide comprehensive support to survivors, and ensure a fair process for all on-campus disciplinary proceedings and in the criminal justice system

increase sexual violence prevention education programs that cover issues like consent and bystander intervention, not only in college, but also in secondary school

black and silver semi automatic pistol on brown wooden table
Photo by Derwin Edwards on Pexels.com

Preventing Gun Violence

Democrats believe that we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence.

Democrats will

 expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws

repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and 

keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM’s)—off our streets

fight back against attempts to make it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to revoke federal licenses from law breaking gun dealers, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, intimate partner abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues

Here is the link to the party platform which I encourage you to read for yourself.

Where we stand

exploring the HEART of healthcare change

I appreciate your interest in the politics of healthcare, an issue that is vital to all of us every day. These proposals will become more focussed and debated as election day approaches; the national election is Tuesday November 3, 2020. Please exercise your right to vote, I intend to.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Health lessons from Martin Luther King, Jr.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  

 

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country if not the world on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day every year.

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)

 Health effects of violence

Dr. King’s life reminds us of the  tragic effects of interpersonal violence. His life ended suddenly and prematurely when, on April 4, 1968, an assailant shot him as he stood on a hotel balcony. He had delivered his last speech just the day before. The shooter was apprehended, and after confessing to the murder, sentenced to life in prison where he died.

Most people know of Dr. King’s assassination, but don’t know his mother, Alberta Williams King, also died violently. At age 69, sitting at the organ of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mrs. King was shot and killed on June 30, 1974. Her  23-year-old assailant received a life sentence and died in prison.

Violence between persons creates social, economic and political problems, and serious medical consequences. It is a leading cause of death, especially in children, adolescents and young adults.

Non-fatal injuries often cause severe and permanent disability that changes lives, burdens families and increases medical costs astronomically. These include

  • TBI, traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries leading to paraplegia, quadriplegia, ventilator dependence
  • Amputations of limbs
  • PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder; other forms of anxiety; depression
  • Chronic pain, often leading to opiate dependence

Here is a previous post  about  why and how we need to address violence in our society .

Why we need to end violence and how to stop it

Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.

Dr. King

Effects of health disparities

This observance also reminds us of the problem of health disparity. Health disparities are

preventable differences in illness, injury, violence, or access to health care that happen to  socially disadvantaged populations.

These populations can be defined by factors such as

  • race or ethnicity,
  • gender,
  • education or income,
  • disability,
  • geographic location (e.g., rural or urban),
  • sexual orientation.

Health disparities are directly related to the past and present  unequal distribution of social, political, economic, and environmental resources.

African-Americans frequently suffer health disparities and are more susceptible to certain disorders than other races. We doctors know our black patients experience more difficulty with these conditions in particular-diabetes, asthma, sarcoidosis, hypertension, stroke, and cancers.  Dr. King’s father, Martin Sr. ,died of a heart attack. His widow, Coretta Scott King, died of ovarian cancer.

Learn Why 7 Deadly Diseases Strike Blacks Most  from WebMD

You can learn more about Dr. King and listen to part of his famous speech at

Biography.com

"I have a dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King , in Washington D.C. looking toward the Washington Monument

You can read the full text of the speech at

I Have A Dream….

I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies,

education and culture for their minds,

and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.

Dr. King

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you. These commissions help me fund this blog.

a biography about Dr. King written for children

I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am Martin Luther King book
Martin Luther King Jr.

sharing the dream of HEALTH equality

Thank you for joining me to remember the late Dr. King.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

From Practice to Politics-Doctors who ran for President-the Activist

Dr. Jill Stein, an internist, was the Green Party candidate for president of the United States in 2016. What happened to her?

In 2016 I wrote about the 3 physicians who ran for President of the United States that year. None of them won but in observance of National Doctors’ Day this month I’m reviewing their stories with updates on what they are doing now.

Holding the office of President is our country’s highest honor but the job of president has become so thankless I wonder why anyone wants to do it. But I am grateful that people are willing to do it, as well as other government positions, both elected and appointed.

These profiles are for your “information and inspiration”, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation by me .

Jill Stein, M.D., internist

Dr. Jill Stein was the Green Party candidate for President.

About Dr. Stein

  1. Dr. Stein graduated from Harvard Medical School.
  2. Her hobbies include writing and performing music.
  3. She also ran for President in 2012, also on the Green Party ticket.
  4. She is a physician’s wife, mother, internal medicine physician/teacher and “environmental-health advocate.”
  5. She developed the “Healthy People, Healthy Planet” teaching program.
  6. She has been interviewed on the Today Show, 20/20 and Fox News network.
  7. In Massachusetts she ran for Governor, State Representative and Secretary of State.
  8. She co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition for Healthy Communities, a non-profit organization.
  9. Her personal interests include ecology, social justice, grassroots democracy, and non-violence.
  10. She has advocated for several environmental issues in her home state-
  • Mercury contamination of fish
  • The “Filthy Five” coal plants clean up
  • Mercury and dioxin contamination from burning trash

Since the election, Dr. Stein continues to speak out on national issues @DrJillStein. On her Facebook page, she is described as

medical doctor, mother on fire,

activist for people, planet, and peace over profit

Dr. Jill Stein is the recipient of several awards, including Clean Water Action’s “Not in Anyone’s Backyard” Award, the Children’s Health Hero Award, and the Toxic Action Center’s Citizen Award.

In a recent interview, Dr. Stein indicated she does not plan to run for president in 2020.

Other physician candidates

                              Dr. Aletha 

King, Obama, and Healthcare

Talking about Dr. Dr. King, President Obama, and healthcare change

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 

The  United States observes the third Monday of January as a federal holiday in honor and memory of the birthday of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929)

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968.

First African-American President- Barack Obama

In 2008 Democratic candidate Barack Obama ran for President of the United States and won, becoming the 44th President  and the first African-American to win the office.

Former President Obama running with his dog
President Obama kept fit exercising with his dog- photo compliments Pixabay 

 

Candidate Obama  pledged to enact universal health care coverage for the country, a promise President Obama fulfilled with the support of a Democratic Congress. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often shortened to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or nicknamed Obamacare, is a United States federal statute enacted by the 111th United States Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010.

 

 

First Universal Healthcare Coverage -“Obamacare”

The term “Obamacare” was first used by opponents, then embraced by supporters, and eventually used by President Obama himself. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 amendment, it represents the U.S. healthcare system‘s most significant overhaul and expansion of coverage since  Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. (source Wikipedia) 

 

Is ObamaCare doomed?

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign platform included health care reform, a plan he labeled “repeal and replace” for Obamacare. Thus far, as of January 2018 , President Trump has not convinced Congress to abandon Obamacare, but it will change under the recently passed tax law which has abolished the individual mandate  requiring all persons to either buy health insurance or pay a penalty. Premiums are predicted to increase significantly, making it more difficult for people to afford coverage.

 

 African-American Health- Progress Made, More Needed

 

The death rate for African Americans dropped 25% from 1999-2015, but they are still more likely to die at a young age than white Americans.

African Americans in their 20s, 30s, and 40s are more likely to live with or die from conditions that typically occur at older ages in whites, including

  • heart disease,
  • stroke, and
  • diabetes.

African Americans ages 35-64 are 50 percent more likely to have high blood pressure as whites.

African Americans ages 18 to 49 years are 2 times as likely to die from heart disease as whites.

Social and economic conditions, such as poverty, contribute to the gap in health differences between African Americans and whites.

The leading causes of death for African Americans have decreased from 1999-2015.
CDC Vitalsigns

 

Public health agencies and community organizations should work with other community resources , including

  • education,
  • business,
  • transportation, and
  • housing,

to create social and economic conditions that promote health at early ages.

Consumers can prevent disease and early death by

 

Dr. Ben Carson- “Gifted Hands”

Ben Carson, M.D., renowned neurosurgeon, also ran for President in 2016 , leaving the campaign during the Republican primary.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

 

President Trump appointed him to his Cabinet where he serves as the 17th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

 

 

Will you share this post on your social media pages?

This blog receives support from your use of the affiliate links in this post , other affiliates, and  visiting the advertisers. Profits will also support various health and relief related  organizations.

I invite you to  follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

Thanks for your time and interest.  Dr. Aletha 

 

Remembering Dr. King’s dream

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country on the anniversary of his birth each year.

Every valley shall be raised up,
    every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
    the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
    and all people will see it together.

Isaiah 40:4-5, NIV

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. quoted this scripture passage in his famous speech at the “March on Washington” in 1963.

 

“even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. “

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the third Monday of January every year , the United States observes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as an official federal holiday.

"I have a dream"
Plaque honoring “I have a dream” speech by Dr. King

Read the full text of  “I Have A Dream” .

The Reverend Dr. King led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death by assassination in 1968. His famous “I have a dream” speech, delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. is  remembered, read, and recited by people all over the country on the anniversary of his birth each year.

graphic by LIGHTSTOCK.COM , an affiliate site for media

books by and about Dr. King

The following book suggestions lead to affiliate links which may pay a commission to this blog at no extra cost to you.

I am Martin Luther King, Jr. (Ordinary People Change the World) I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition (Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929) I Have a Dream: Writings and Speeches That Changed the World, Special 75th Anniversary Edition (Martin Luther King, Jr., born January 15, 1929)

exploring the HEART of human rights

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

I would love for you to start following Watercress Words : use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

FAITH, HOPE, LOVE in wooden block letters
Faith Hope and Love

Honoring Our Veterans 

Veterans- we thank you for your service and sacrifice !#VeteransDay

In the United States we reserve November 11, the date of the Armistice of World War I, as Veterans Day, to remember and honor all who do or have served in our armed forces.

The Veterans Administration provides benefits to veterans including health care. The VA Health Care System, or VHA,  one of the largest in the world, not only cares for veterans’ health, but also  provides medical education and medical research.

If you have ever received care from a physician who trained in the United States, that doctor likely learned from a veteran in a VHA facility. So our veterans continue to serve even after they leave military service. 

Welcome Home Heroes- military sign

 

Here I  share several stories about veterans. Enjoy them, and make  time to thank veterans this week.

disabled veteran patch

 

 

Wounded Veteran’s Therapy Dog Serves as Best Man at Wedding

I believe your heart will be touched by this  story about the special relationship between  a wounded veteran and his therapy dog. Mine certainly was.

“It’s been quite a journey for U.S. Army veteran Justin Lansford and his canine companion, Gabe.

In 2012, Lansford lost his left leg in an IED explosion in Afghanistan.”

 

 

 

My husband served in the Army and was deployed to Vietnam in the 1970s. Here is his story

From bullets to blessings-one man’s journey to recovery from war

“I didn’t want to ever go to Vietnam again when I came home in 1972 after a one-year tour of duty with the United States Army. I was stationed with the Americal Division, 3/18 Field Artillery Battalion near Tra Bong, a major village located about 25 miles west of Chu Lai, the headquarters of the Americal Division, on “China Beach” at the South China Sea.”

army veteran standing next to a floral bouquet at a memorial
We always visit the traveling Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall replica when it comes to our area.

 

Memorial Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Angel Fire, New Mexico

a special Memorial Day observance at a unique veterans memorial

statue of a soldier in a small flower bed
Doug Scott Sculpture at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial ,Angel Fire New Mexico; I am kneeling in the background, viewing the veterans’ memorial walkway; Photo by Raymond Oglesby

 

 

 

A veteran dishes out love– personal reflections from a Vietnam veteran

“The people around us are starving for love and we need to unlock our pantry and see to it that everybody gets a belly full.”

 

clowns entertain Vietnamese people
Billy and Jingles, a veteran and his wife, entertain at a medical clinic in Vietnam

 

 

 

how a father honored his veteran son’s memory

 

Please share this post and  leave a comment as a tribute to a veteran you love and admire. This post was featured on 

BLOGGER’S PIT STOP BLOGGER'S PIT STOP Featured Winner

 

Follow Watercress Words for more information and inspiration to help you explore the HEART of HEALTH.

 

Dr. Aletha

 

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Remembering 9/11 in literature

exploring the 9/11 legacy in literature #WorkingStiff#ProjectRebirth#CityofDust

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies,

and The Making of a Medical Examiner,

by Judy Melinek, M.D.and T.J. Mitchell

The author, Judy Melinek, M.D., wrote this  account of her training as a forensic pathologist, a physician specialist who investigates sudden, unexpected or violent deaths. Her husband, T.J. Mitchell co-authored.

When she applied for a position in New York City at the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME), Dr. Judy Melinek never imagined that decision would plunge her into the nightmare of September 11, 2001. She was at the ME office that day when the Twin Towers were attacked and fell, killing thousands of people.

The main job of a medical examiner is to investigate death by examining a corpse- an autopsy. They look for evidence of cause of death, was it due to disease or trauma, and time of death, was it recent or remote. They hunt for signs that the death was self or other inflicted. Sometimes they may even need to establish the identity of the corpse.

Such was the case after September 11. She and the other staff collaborated with the team of investigators who worked night and day identifying remains of the victims, a task she vividly describes in the book. This was basically their only job, since the cause of death was for the most part irrelevant, and impossible to determine. Sometimes they had only a small body part, as little as a finger, to extract DNA to identity a victim. Such identification was critical to bring closure to the families who lost loved ones, people who left for work that day, and never came home.

Dr. Melinek describes not only the science of what she was doing, but also the emotion behind it; how she and the other medical examiners and staff felt about their work. She describes how it affected her relationship with her husband and young son, the problem of explaining to him what she was seeing and experiencing on a daily basis. She didn’t have the heart to tell him how many trailers full of partial bodies there were, after he saw just one and was shocked.

She also discusses other cases she worked on.  As a forensic pathologist, Dr. Melinek  understands why and how people die, and therefore also knows how people can avoid dying unexpectedly. Pathologists tend to be blunt, straightforward and to the point, as when she writes,

  • “So don’t jaywalk.
  • Wear your seat belt when you drive.
  • Better yet, stay out of your car and get some exercise.
  • Watch your weight.
  • If you’re a smoker, stop right now. If your aren’t, don’t start.
  • Guns put holes in people. Drugs are bad.
  • You know that yellow line on the subway platform? It’s there for a reason.
  • Staying alive, as it turns out, is mostly common sense.” 

Working Stiff moves at a quick pace, in a conversational style. When she uses medical jargon, she explains it in simple terms. She describes the cases she investigated in detail so those with weak stomachs (no pun) may want to skip this read.

Having experienced her father’s unexpected death when she was 13 years old, she was no stranger to it, and she learned more from the 262 autopsies she did during her training. As she says in this engaging memoir,

To confront death every day, to see it for yourself, you have to love the living.” 

Dr. Melinek also blogs at Forensic Pathology Forum 

The Statue of Liberty

Other authors have written about the medical consequences of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 in these books and articles.

City of Dust: Illness, Arrogance, and 9/11

mounted police officer
a New York City police officer and his horse represent the city proudly

by Anthony DePalma

“In City of Dust, Anthony DePalma offers the first full accounting of one of the gravest environmental catastrophes in United States history.

The destruction on 9/11 of two of the world’s largest buildings unleashed a vortex of dust and ash that blotted out the sun and has distorted science, medicine and public policy ever since. The likely dangers of 9/11’s massive dust cloud were evident from the beginning, yet thousands chose not to see. Why? As the sickening results of exposure became evident, many still refused to recognize them. Why? The consequences are still being tallied in the wasted bodies and disrupted lives of thousands who gave their all when the need was greatest, but whose demands for justice have been consumed by years of politics and courtroom maneuvers.

Separating reality from myth – and doing so with exceptional literary style and grace, DePalma covered Ground Zero for The New York Times for four years. DePalma introduces heroic firefighters, dedicated doctors and scientists, obsessive city officials, partisan politicians, aggressive lawyers, and compassionate judges and reveals the individual decisions that destroyed public trust, and the desperate attempts made to rebuild it.

The dust that was the World Trade Center has changed everything it touched. This is the story of that dust, the 9/11 disaster after the disaster, and what it tells us about ourselves and our future.”

(Amazon review)

Project Rebirth: Survival and the Strength of the Human Spirit from 9/11 Survivors

by Dr. Robin Stern and Courtney E. Martin

“Written in conjunction with the documentary Rebirth, a full decade in the making, an uplifting look at the lives of nine individuals whose lives were forever changed by the largest tragedy our nation has ever faced. 

In Project Rebirth, a psychologist and a journalist examine the lives of nine people who were directly affected by the events of September 11, 2001. Written concurrently with the filming of the documentary, it is uniquely positioned to tackle the questions raised about how people react in the face of crippling grief, how you maintain hope for a future when your life as you knew it is destroyed, and the amazing ability of humans to focus on the positive aspects of day-to-day living in the face of tragedy.”

(Amazon review)

NYFD engine
honoring the brave NYFD firefighters who rescued survivors and those who lost their lives doing so

At Morgue, Ceaselessly Sifting 9/11 Traces

“Outside the chalk-white tent, the whistle of traffic along the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive signals the forward movement of a city. But inside, 16 refrigerated trailers hum in a ceaseless chorus, giving voice to the dead whose remains are contained in their hold.

The trailers hummed as time separated the city from the 11th of September: as the smoking mountain of what had been the World Trade Center became a yawning hole; as 1.6 million tons of debris were sifted through on a Staten Island landfill; as commemorative services caused heads to bow. They hummed and they continue to hum, a mantra-like reminder that talk of closure is premature.” (excerpt from newspaper article)

Public health and medical disaster responses: The untold story of 9/11

By Kelly B. Close, MD

former National Coordinator of Disaster Volunteers for the American Red Cross

“You never know when your life is going to change.

My red business suit was almost buttoned, and I was rehearsing my presentation for the Milford, Connecticut Red Cross board of directors, even though my mind kept wandering to my wedding just nine days earlier in Walt Disney World. An urgent call from my new husband to come to the television interrupted my wedding day dreams.

As soon as I saw the images of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center, I knew that my plans for the day – maybe even my life – had changed.” (excerpt from article at ems1.com)

Triumph Over Terror

by Bob Ossler with Janice Hall Heck

“What do Ossler’s insights reveal about finding meaning and purpose in the thick of chaos and personal tragedy?

Chaplain Ossler chronicles the best of humanity—acts of courage and goodness in the midst of unimaginable devastation. As terrorist attacks continue to assault humanity, Triumph Over Terror reveals how your spirit can triumph over terror’s reign, and how you can help others suffering from trauma and loss.”(Amazon review)

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One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center, photo taken 8/16/2013 by Dr. Aletha

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an open book with pages folded to make a heart
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