Celebrating romance and marriage on Valentine’s Day

a look at some unique marriages for Valentine’s Day


What the word needs now is love, sweet love, that’s the only thing that there’s just too little of.” 

Hal David, lyricist

I’m glad you found this post, enjoy it, or view an updated version at this link.

a red heart
Valentine heart graphic from Lightstock.com, affiliate link

One of my Sunday traditions is reading Parade , a magazine in the newspaper. One of my favorite parts is the “Ask Marilyn” column where Marilyn Vos Savant answers complex questions on a wide range of subjects- math, science, medicine, technology, economics , games, sports and just about any topic you can imagine.

I have wondered how she does it, imagining it must take hours and hours of research.

But then I learned her history.  She has one of the highest IQs in the world. She is certifiably the world’s smartest woman. 

One week,  Parade published an article about how she met her husband. She is married to none other than Dr. Robert Jarvik, developer of the artificial heart.

They met when he called her after reading   a magazine article about her, and had a long distance courtship lasting one year.

At their wedding, science fiction author Isaac Asimov walked her down the aisle; the best man was the 7th recipient of one of the Jarvik artificial hearts! How’s that for romantic. They have been happily married since 1987.      

Isaac Asimov: The Complete Stories, Vol. 1


Books by Marilyn Vos Savant 

Growing Up: A Classic American Childhood

The Power of Logical Thinking 

Another love story-Austin and Jessica 

Another couple  featured in the issue, Austin and Jessica were literal childhood sweethearts, having met as toddlers. They and their parents met in a support group- for families of children with Down Syndrome.

With their parents’ support, they have overcome their disability to build a loving , stable marriage- and maybe because he “treats her like a princess.”

These are two very different couples who share something special-

respect, caring and commitment to the person they love.

As Beatles John and Paul (Lennon and McCartney) told us many years ago,

All you need is love.”

 

(These and some other links in this post are to affiliate sites that may pay this blog a small commission. )

My love story

It wasn’t Valentine’s Day, but my husband and I shared a romantic dinner on vacation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Read about our romance at the link below the photo

man and woman at dinner
Dr. Aletha and Raymond

Two Words That Changed My Life

LIGHTSTOCK.COM, AFFILIATE LINK


 

Share the LOVE

I appreciate your sharing  this post with your friends on your social media pages.

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

Thank you for  viewing  the advertisements and using the affiliate links  that fund this blog; with your  help, we can grow, reach more people, and support worthy causes that bring health and wholeness to people around the world.

Gabriel & Co. fine jewelry

                              Dr. Aletha 

Share the HEART of health on GivingTuesday

My goal for this blog is to inform and inspire us all to explore the HEART of health in our lives, and the lives of our families and communities. But beyond that, my the mission for this blog is

to share the HEART of health with people all over the world,
especially those who face hardship due to poverty, isolation, discrimination, political turmoil, hunger, homelessness, human rights violations, and natural disasters.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are important to business,

but just as important is  #GivingTuesday. 

Observed on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and these two popular shopping days,  #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, of holiday and end-of-year giving.

“It is a is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.”

Since its start in 2012, #GivingTuesday celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year and a growing catalog of resources.

 

 

My goal for this blog is to inform and inspire us all to explore the HEART of health in our lives, and the lives of our families and communities. But beyond that, my the mission for this blog is

to share the HEART of health with people all over the world,

especially those who face hardship due to poverty, isolation, discrimination, political turmoil, hunger, homelessness, human rights violations, and natural disasters.

 

So for Giving Tuesday I’m asking you to give to one or more of the groups I have featured on this blog and that this blog is committed to support. The links below take you to stories about their mission and links to their sites where you can

 

drawing of a laptop with GIVE on the screen

 

Samaritan’s Purse 

Vets with a Mission-VWAM

Royal Family Kids (RFK)

Doctors Without Borders /Medicins Sans Frontieres

CHaRA Mission 

Compassion Link 

The KIM Foundation 

American Legion Auxiliary

Arbonne Charitable Foundation

 

 

I would love for you to comment or send me a message about where you are donating this year, even if it is another group. Let’s all do our part to change the world with generosity and love.

 

Dr. Aletha 

Keeping Christmas is good.But sharing it with others is even bettter. words on a background of white packages with red ribbon.
a Lightstock.com graphic, an affiliate link. 

 

Top 5 posts of 2016- #5

 

This week I’m sharing my top 5 most viewed posts of 2016. I’m not surprised that any of these were the most popular because a couple of them are among my favorites too. (Well, ok, they all are.)

This post is number 5- a story about a special week I spent with some special kids. It’s the

Week that makes me glad I am a doctor

 

 

2015-07-02 14.25.07

 

 

For one week I was the doctor at an exclusive summer camp for children ages 7 through 11 years. Only a few children are accepted to this camp from those who qualify. There are strict requirements for admission, but once a child qualifies, they can return every year until they reach 11. Both boys and girls are recruited to attend.

2015-06-30 11.02.18

 

 

So exclusive is this camp that the ratio of staff to children is almost one to one. Some activities are done in large groups; others are done in groups of four campers with at least 2 adults.  There were adult staff in charge of leading music, teaching crafts, hiking, fishing, swimming and drama presentations. Additional staff came each evening for special programs and a birthday party for everyone. Since we were there the week of Independence Day, there was a fireworks show one evening.

2015-07-01 14.28.13

 

Three hot meals, served all-you-can-eat style, and snacks were provided daily. Assisted by a registered nurse, I oversaw treatment of any injuries, assessed illness and dispensed medications. The campers slept in air-conditioned cabins with full bath facilities, supervised by adult staff.

2015-06-30 11.43.14

 

The total cost of running this 5 day camp is in the tens of thousands of dollars; the cost to each child’s family-nothing.

Sound wonderful to you? The kind of camp you would like to send your child or grandchild to? No, it isn’t.

basketballs and volleyball court

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This camp is exclusive but you can’t buy your way into this camp. It is not for the children of the rich and famous, celebrities, entertainers, politicians, or doctors.

 

This camp is reserved for children who are in the foster care system- children who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned by their parents.

2015-06-30 07.07.29

 

By  sponsoring these camps Royal Family Kids has been

confronting abuse and changing lives since 1990 .

The camps are staffed by local people for children in their community, usually affiliated with a church. All are volunteers. Funds to pay for the camp are raised by individual and corporate donations, grants, and old fashioned fund raisers like pie auctions .

Child abuse is a preventable, treatable medical condition- and a crime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls it  “a public health problem with lifelong health consequences for survivors.”

The World Health Organization calls it a “global priority” due to its potential impact on social and economic development.

All organizations that deal with child abuse agree that prevention is much more effective than treating the effects of abuse.

Child abuse is underrecognized and underreported but estimates are that as few as 4% to as many as 30% of children worldwide experience some sort of maltreatment- physical injury, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual assault or exploitation.

Many of these children land  in the foster care system which can be another form of abuse. Foster children may be shuffled from one home to another without warning, separated from siblings, leaving behind  personal possessions like  clothes, toys, books and photos. They have few opportunities to do normal kid activities like summer camps, family vacations, play sports and music lessons.

2015-07-02 14.31.33

 

That is why our camp is so important. For their week at camp, each child gets  caring attention from safe adults, many of whom return year after year. The goal of the camp is to create positive memories for kids who have few. Each craft is carefully packed to go back with the child, as is a small photo album filled with pictures of their activities at camp.

 

For the sake of their privacy and protection, I cannot show pictures of the children to you, but these photos  from the camp give you an idea of the fun things they did that week. Most important, they are taught that their life has value and that they can overcome the challenging situation that has brought them here. 

2015-06-30 07.06.31

If you suspect a child is being abused, here is how you can help.

State child abuse reporting phone numbers

Come back tomorrow for number 4 of the top 5 posts this year.

Voting on Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health Care

 

Tuesday November 8th, we in the United States will elect a new president. It’s been a contentious , bitter campaign and we are all glad it’s almost over. But we should also be glad that we have the privilege of open discussion and disagreement and settling our differences by voting for our leaders. 

 

I hope you will review my previous post about the presidential candidates’ views and proposals concerning health care.  Here I am repeating a previous post that outlines the U.S. healthcare system.

I believe we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world  because of the people who work in healthcare- the people who devote years to education and training and who work tirelessly 365 days a year, 24 hours a day to make and keep us well.  Their commitment, compassion, dedication and competence benefits all of us and deserves our gratitude.

 

 

 

Statue of Liberty
Lady Liberty lifting her torch in New York harbor

 

Even though the United States does not officially have “socialized” health care, a large proportion of our medical care is funded by the federal government. Even though I know that, I was still surprised by statistics in a recent article, which stated that  the federal government accounts for

40% of healthcare  spending

$1.3 trillion /year

Covering 100 million individuals

Through 4 federal agencies

Department of Health and Human Services 

Department of Defense

Veterans Administration

Department  of Homeland Security

(JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), June 21, 2016)

 

 

The  United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 to guarantee basic health insurance to all citizens.  People who oppose the ACA ,aka Obama Care, dislike or even fear government involvement in medical care; they consider it interference, control, or even nationalization of the United States healthcare system.

I think many people, even physicians, don’t realize or forget, how involved the government already is in healthcare. As far back as the American Revolution the fledgling government extended health care benefits to the soldiers and veterans of that war; that system evolved into the current military health care system which covers service members and the Veterans’ Administration system for veterans.

a Veterans Administration clinic
a Veterans Administration clinic (photo by blogger)

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan

This year marked the 50th anniversary of two other government healthcare programs- Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicaid provides insurance coverage for adults and children who are unemployed or low income.  

Medicare covers disabled children and adults  and persons 65 years and older.

The numbers are rather staggering.

  • Together these programs cover at least 30% of Americans.
  • Together they comprise 25% of all federal spending.
  • Together they pay 40% of total U.S. health care spending.

An infographic from the Kaiser Family Foundation and JAMA explains this further.

Disabled children and adults may qualify for Medicare.
Disabled children and adults may qualify for Medicare.

Children may be eligible for Medicaid if their families cannot obtain health insurance for them.
Children may be eligible for Medicaid if their families cannot obtain health insurance for them.

You may not be eligible for either of these programs now, but chances are eventually you or someone close to you will.

  • Anyone can become disabled from a serious illness or freak accident.
  • You or your spouse may lose your job and your employer sponsored health insurance.
  • Your child may have a disability that will prevent them from working when they grow up.
  • We may all live long enough to qualify for Medicare on the basis of age alone.  Your parents or grandparents are near or already at Medicare age.

Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.

It’s important to understand how Medicare works, since it’s not automatic; even if you qualify, you need to sign up to be covered (with a few exceptions). The rules are summarized here. Or consider an easy to understand book here. 

 

Several government agencies regulate, monitor,  promote and/or support  both public and private healthcare including-

 

Food and Drug Administration- FDA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- CDC

National Institutes of Health- NIH

Occupational Safety and Health administration-OSHA

Drug Enforcement Agency-DEA

 

medication capsules
The FDA regulates the development and sale of medications and medical devices and the DEA regulates dangerous and controlled drugs.

Congress has enacted several important laws that  concern health care such as

The Affordable Care Act- ACA

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-HIPPA

Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act- EMTALA

Health Information Technology  for Economic and Clinical Health- HITECH

Americans with Disabilities Act-ADA

Family Medical Leave Act-FMLA

 

 

 

 

 

air ambulance landing at a hospital
EMTALA requires all hospitals to offer emergency treatment to any patient who arrives, regardless of ability to pay for that care

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of the United States  created a nation based on the “self-evident truths”  of  “Life ,Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as well as  to promote “Safety and Happiness” . 

In the Constitution they vowed to “promote the general Welfare” .

 

I wonder if they envisioned that would eventually include so much effort and money providing and regulating health care, most of which was not available or even imagined at that time? 

 

Comments welcome and encouraged!

 

Before you vote, you may want to review this related post.

 

How your vote may affect your health care next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“in love with healthy eating”- an update

 

( This post contains affiliate product links; purchase through these links pays a commission to this blog; thank you)

Almost a year ago I introduced you to my friend Pam who successfully lost weight a few years ago. Perhaps more important than achieving her weight loss goals, she actively maintains those goals and enthusiastically helps others do the same. 

So I thought you would enjoy an update about  Pam . If you didn’t meet her the first time , you can do so now . Here’s my original post from last September. 

Meet my friend Pam

I am pleased to introduce you to my friend Pam. My husband and I met Pam and her husband in a ballroom dance class. I was immediately captivated by her radiant smile and Southern charm. Since then I have learned more about her and watched an amazing transformation in her life.

Pam and I attending a wedding at the dance studio
Pam and I attending a friend’s wedding at the dance studio

Pam graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Mississippi State University in 1980. With a major in Communications, she started her career as a writer and Account Executive for advertising and public relations agencies in Mississippi and in Oklahoma where she moved after marrying.  She was the Marketing Director for a large medical clinic for several years. Since 1995, she has enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom with involvement in PTA, church and community. In 2012, she was named Volunteer of the Year by her community public school system.

But despite such a charmed life, there was a struggle, one that Pam shares with many people. In this blog I have discussed the physical and emotional consequences of excess weightyou will be encouraged by Pam’s success story which she so generously shares with me and you.

“Breaking up(with junk food)  is hard to do .”

By Pam Whitson

“I was happily married to the love of my life and should have been having the time of my life.   Sadly, my self-confidence and my happiness had been stolen, and I was the thief.

For over two decades, I robbed myself of peak energy, vitality, health and beauty by totally disregarding my intake of food.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, I thought about what I should do.  I spent money on self-help tapes, gym memberships and weight loss programs from the practical to the extreme.  I whined and wished about it constantly.  And it didn’t help knowing that I was not alone; almost half of adults are overweight or obese.

And I had occasional moments of success.  Like the time I was within four pounds of leaving the “obese” category. (Obese is a BMI, body mass index, of 30 or higher)  After months of hard work, I ran to Glamour Shots for the mid-1990s version of a sequin and big hair make-over.  On the way home from my triumphant photo session, I stopped by my favorite barbecue place and started eating my way right back to where I was before.  I gained all the weight I had lost back and more.

I joked my way through feelings of depression, because  I had an unhealthy relationship with food.    I thought about it way too much.  I ran to it for instant gratification.  I was too in love with the tastes, the textures, the sheer delight of food.  Even now, I love to grocery shop.  One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.

cereal boxes in a store
“One of my favorite places on the planet is the cereal aisle of the grocery store.”

 

 

Finally, at age 53, after twenty years of carrying way too much weight for my 5’7 ½” (1.7 meters) (yes, the half inch counts!) frame, I was ready for a change.  Really ready.  Change isn’t easy.  Change hurts.  I walked into Weight Watchers and pretended it was my first time ever.  I read everything.  I listened and participated.  I went to every meeting.  I hung around afterwards and pestered my leader for every little nugget of information I could cling to.

Pam before weight loss
Pam and her daughter before her weight loss.

 

 

I rejoined Weight Watchers in July, 2012, with 20 pounds (9 kg) still off from a previous Weight Watcher effort. I lost 40 pounds (18 kg) in 4 1/2 months to be at goal before Thanksgiving! I learned to maintain this loss during the required six week maintenance period with Weight Watchers and became an official Lifetime Member before the year’s end of 2012. This meant a lot to me because my birthday is New Year’s Day. How wonderful to start the year at a healthy weight!

At Weight Watchers I learned I could change.

I could change what I put in my grocery basket.

I could change what I ordered in restaurants.

I could change how much I moved.

I could change my relationship with food for good.

 

I still enjoy food.  Very much.  Maybe even more than before because now I appreciate my food as fuel to live a healthy and active and even beautiful (in the eyes of the beholder) life!

I still enjoy the tastes, even more so because I choose only the best.  My plate is colorful with roasted veggies and fresh fruits and salad greens.

I enjoy grilled lean chicken, steak and seafood.  My carbs are high fiber, full of flavor and texture.  I no longer long for the processed foods full of white flour, sugar and fat.

By pairing healthy eating with increased physical activity, my weight dropped from 226 lbs (102 kg) to 150 lbs (68 kg).  Now 70 pounds (31 kg) lighter and at a healthy BMI of 23, I feel so much happier and healthier.

Once I started eating better, even before I was near my goal weight, my self-esteem and confidence were instantly restored.  Just knowing that I had a plan gave me optimism and excitement.  I’ve been at goal for almost three years and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (or even a crisp cookie). And I now stay about 10 pounds (4.5 kg) below goal as a safety net.

Pam on a well deserved vacation
Pam on a well deserved vacation

 

 

In addition to my daily walks, I enjoy ballroom dancing, Jazzercise, swimming and an occasional bike ride.  I wear a Fitbit and accomplish 15,000 steps a day.

 

I’ve been a Weight Watcher leader for two and a half years and just LOVE it! I never imagined I would do this; you might as well as told me I would become an astronaut. While helping me stay at a healthy weight, I enjoy the privilege of making new friends and helping other people be their most confident and healthy selves.

Just for fun, I’ve started a Park Walking group that explores different parks in our city every two weeks. We took a summer break (Oklahoma gets real hot in the summer) but will be back on the trails in September.Along with my awesome Weight Watcher members, I’m enjoying a new healthy relationship with food for good. ”

Pam leading a Weight Watchers meeting
Pam is now a Weight Watchers coach

 

 

 

Weight Watchers may not be the answer for everyone, but Pam’s idea of changing our relationship with food should be a part of any weight management plan.  Our eating habits affect our health in other ways, so even if you are not overweight, using food appropriately is important.

Physical activity also has health benefits beyond weight loss. I joined Pam’s walking group and find it a fun way to exercise and make new friends. (My favorite walking shoe is Go Walk by Skechers.)  In addition to social dancing with our husbands, Pam and I are part of a ladies dance team. We performed a Western theme dance routine to the song “These Boots are Made for Walking” . That’s so appropriate for someone who walked her way from a BMI of 35 down to 25. If she can do it, so can you.

 

 

So what’s Pam doing now?

Pam has maintained her junk food break-up by continuing to make wise food choices consistently. She may have an occasional splurge, especially on special occasions or travelling. But most of the time she sticks with what she has learned works for her.

 

woman drinking tea

Enjoying real tea time at The Kensington Palace Orangery! Cucumber sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and delectable tiny treats – glad I already weighed in!

 

 

 

Weighing in at Weight Watchers

Pam is still a Weight Watchers coach and mentor, posting promotions on social media and inviting people to meetings. Like these recent posts-

 

“If you’ve been thinking of giving ‘getting ‘fit and healthy’ ONE more try, come and join and make it THE try that changed your life.”

“Sixty fun members and lots of celebrations at Weight Watchers today! We may have fun, but we are seriously proud of their achievements!”

“Thinking of using a No Weigh In pass at Weight Watchers tomorrow? Go right ahead! Just be there, 10:30 am,  as we go “beyond the scale.” Happy 4th of July and hope to see you soon!

“Mall Walk for cash and prizes! Meet me this Thursday morning, July 7th, at 9:30 am  for a super fun walking challenge! Bring $2 and any kind of step counter (Fitbit, pedometer, phone tracker, etc) to take part in the cash reward. We’ll also have drawings for prizes! Everyone is welcome and I hope to see you there!

13510943_1375060879174394_6926755158201409177_n
Some of the prizes given at her meetings

 

 

 

“Great meeting today “Clear The Clutter” if it doesn’t spark joy in your life get rid of it!!”

“WW Friends: Let’s attend the “Every Body Happy” free class together this Thursday, 1:30 p.m.. The class sounds super fun – practical tips for looking great at every size and building a transitional wardrobe to feel our best as we lose weight. Hope to see you there!”

“Drinking our life or at least our SmartPoints away? This week at Weight Watchers, we’re learning how to be smart about our coffee drinks, happy hour, even tea, lemonade and slushies! Hope to see you at the  meeting Monday at 12 noon, Tuesday at 10:30, or at the meeting time and place that works best for you!”

 

Keeping moving

Her other “secret” to weight maintenance is regular physical activity. She ballroom dances with her husband and organizes regular park walks with other ladies . She recognizes the power of group support and encouragement, as well as the safety in walking in groups. She even goes to Zumba class with her mother.

feet in sports shoes

 

 

jogging trail sign
At one of the many parks in our city 

A trip to London

Pam and her family know how to have fun. They  make even ordinary occasions special. But recently they had an extraordinary  experience as they toured London. She posted regular updates on Facebook where I noticed  she was doing lots of walking. She even went bicycling one morning through Kensington Park and Hyde Park.

 

woman on bicycle

 

 

 

 

I think maybe for her the highlight of the trip was visiting a Weight Watchers meeting where she was weighed in stones. That’s unfamiliar to us Americans, so she explained that one stone equals 14 pounds.

Queen Elizabeth in the distance
And Pam even met Queen Elizabeth! (well almost, haha)

 

 

And one more piece of exciting news- I think I am as excited as Pam is. This spring Pam’s daughter graduated from college- the same one I went to. And she is now a medical student- also at the same school I attended!

young woman in cap and gown
future physician in training

 

I am happy to see talented young women and men who want to dedicate their lives to the medical profession, and it’s a special treat when they are the  daughters and sons of friends. I look forward to the day I can call her my colleague.

 

 

Why this week makes me glad I am a doctor

 

This week I head into the wild to serve as camp doctor for a children’s summer camp. It’s a special week for many reasons.

Here’s what happened last summer.

 

2015-07-02 14.25.07

 

 

 

For one week I was the doctor at an exclusive summer camp for children ages 7 through 11 years. Only a few children are accepted to this camp from those who qualify. There are strict requirements for admission, but once a child qualifies, they can return every year until they reach 11. Both boys and girls are recruited to attend.

2015-06-30 11.02.18

 

 

So exclusive is this camp that the ratio of staff to children is almost one to one. Some activities are done in large groups; others are done in groups of four campers with at least 2 adults.  There were adult staff in charge of leading music, teaching crafts, hiking, fishing, swimming and drama presentations. Additional staff came each evening for special programs and a birthday party for everyone. Since we were there the week of Independence Day, there was a fireworks show one evening.

2015-07-01 14.28.13

 

Three hot meals, served all-you-can-eat style, and snacks were provided daily. Assisted by a registered nurse, I oversaw treatment of any injuries, assessed illness and dispensed medications. The campers slept in air-conditioned cabins with full bath facilities, supervised by adult staff.

2015-06-30 11.43.14

 

The total cost of running this 5 day camp is in the tens of thousands of dollars; the cost to each child’s family-nothing.

Sound wonderful to you? The kind of camp you would like to send your child or grandchild to? No, it isn’t.

 

This camp is exclusive but you can’t buy your way into this camp. It is not for the children of the rich and famous, celebrities, entertainers, politicians, or doctors.

 

This camp is reserved for children who are in the foster care system- children who have been abused, neglected and/or abandoned by their parents.

2015-06-30 07.07.29

 

By  sponsoring these camps Royal Family Kids has been

confronting abuse and changing lives since 1990 .

The camps are staffed by local people for children in their community, usually affiliated with a church. All are volunteers. Funds to pay for the camp are raised by individual and corporate donations, grants, and old fashioned fund raisers like pie auctions .

Child abuse is a preventable, treatable medical condition- and a crime.

The American Academy of Pediatrics calls it  “a public health problem with lifelong health consequences for survivors.”

The World Health Organization calls it a “global priority” due to its potential impact on social and economic development.

All organizations that deal with child abuse agree that prevention is much more effective than treating the effects of abuse.

Child abuse is underrecognized and underreported but estimates are that as few as 4% to as many as 30% of children worldwide experience some sort of maltreatment- physical injury, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual assault or exploitation.

Many of these children land  in the foster care system which can be another form of abuse. Foster children may be shuffled from one home to another without warning, separated from siblings, leaving behind  personal possessions like  clothes, toys, books and photos. They have few opportunities to do normal kid activities like summer camps, family vacations, play sports and music lessons.

2015-07-02 14.31.33

 

That is why our camp is so important. For their week at camp, each child gets  caring attention from safe adults, many of whom return year after year. The goal of the camp is to create positive memories for kids who have few. Each craft is carefully packed to go back with the child, as is a small photo album filled with pictures of their activities at camp.

 

For the sake of their privacy and protection, I cannot show pictures of the children to you, but these photos  from the camp give you an idea of the fun things they did that week. Most important, they are taught that their life has value and that they can overcome the challenging situation that has brought them here. 

2015-06-30 07.06.31

If you suspect a child is being abused, here is how you can help.

State child abuse reporting phone numbers

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Health Care

As Congress tries to repeal the ACA, here is a brief look at other parts of the U.S. health system#Medicare#Medicaid#VeteransHealth

Even though the United States does not officially have “socialized” health care, a large proportion of our medical care is funded by the federal government. Even though I know that, I was still surprised by statistics in a recent article, which stated that  the federal government accounts for

40% of healthcare  spending

$1.3 trillion /year

Covering 100 million individuals

Through 4 federal agencies

Department of Health and Human Services 

Department of Defense

Veterans Administration

Department  of Homeland Security

(JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), June 21, 2016)

The  United States Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010 to guarantee basic health insurance to all citizens.  People who oppose the ACA ,aka Obama Care, dislike or even fear government involvement in medical care; they consider it interference, control, or even nationalization of the United States healthcare system.

a Veterans Administration clinic
a Veterans Administration clinic (photo by Dr. Aletha)

I think many people, even physicians, don’t realize or forget, how involved the government already is in healthcare. As far back as the American Revolution the fledgling government extended health care benefits to the soldiers and veterans of that war; that system evolved into the current military health care system which covers service members and the Veterans’ Administration system for veterans.

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan
American soldiers serving in Afghanistan

2015 marked the 50th anniversary of two other government healthcare programs- Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicaid provides insurance coverage for adults and children who are unemployed or low income.

Medicare covers disabled children and adults  and persons 65 years and older.

wheelchair-749985_1280
Disabled children and adults may qualify for Medicare.

The numbers are rather staggering.

  • Together these programs cover at least 30% of Americans.
  • Together they comprise 25% of all federal spending.
  • Together they pay 40% of total U.S. health care spending.

An infographic from the Kaiser Family Foundation and JAMA explains this further.

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Children may be eligible for Medicaid if their families cannot obtain health insurance for them.

You may not be eligible for either of these programs now, but chances are eventually you or someone close to you will.

  • Anyone can become disabled from a serious illness or freak accident.
  • You or your spouse may lose your job and your employer sponsored health insurance.
  • Your child may have a disability that will prevent them from working when they grow up.
  • We may all live long enough to qualify for Medicare on the basis of age alone.  Your parents or grandparents are near or already at Medicare age.
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.
Senior adults age 65 and older use Medicare.

It’s important to understand how Medicare works, since it’s not automatic; even if you qualify, you need to sign up to be covered (with a few exceptions). The rules are summarized here. Or consider an easy to understand book here. 

Several government agencies regulate, monitor,  promote and/or support  both public and private healthcare including-

Food and Drug Administration- FDA

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention- CDC

National Institutes of Health- NIH

Occupational Safety and Health administration-OSHA

Drug Enforcement Agency-DEA

medication capsules
The FDA regulates the development and sale of medications and medical devices and the DEA regulates dangerous and controlled drugs.

Congress has enacted several important laws that  concern health care such as

 The Affordable Care Act- ACA

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-HIPPA

Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act- EMTALA

Health Information Technology  for Economic and Clinical Health- HITECH

Americans with Disabilities Act-ADA

Family Medical Leave Act-FMLA

air ambulance landing at a hospital
EMTALA requires all hospitals to offer emergency treatment to any patient who arrives, regardless of ability to pay for that care

In the Declaration of Independence, the founders of the United States  created a nation based on the “self-evident truths”  of  “Life ,Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” as well as  to promote “Safety and Happiness” . 

In the Constitution they vowed to “promote the general Welfare” .

I wonder if they envisioned that would eventually include so much effort and money providing and regulating health care, most of which was not  even imagined at that time?