Health and Fitness

Futurist Predictions

This week I was thinking about how much in our lives and in the healthcare system has changed this year. Virtually everyone’s futuristic predictions for this year or even the next five years have either been accelerated or up-ended.

I came across an interesting article however in which the year 2020 was in titled “The Year of Resiliency.” Author Nicolas Badminton wrote that he would be tracking five trends. As expected, virtually all of them have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Number one was that Global warming would get real and drive resilient design. With the current fires in California and hurricanes in the gulf, it is more urgent than ever.He further wrote about attempts to remove CO2 from the atmosphere

The most accurate prediction was the acceleration towards a “trillion sensor society“. By 2025 nearly 26,000,000,000 Internet of thing devices are expect to be connected globally. Business revelations and revolutions encourage more working from home and more independent, “side hustle”, working.

As we move towards A more vertically integrated healthcare system and a workspace where lines are blurred between our home and work environment, empathetic communication and interactions will need to be taught and remembered.

No one knows what our new normal will look like for sure. One things for sure, our society has great resiliency. We will get through this and get back to work stronger and healthier than ever.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Preventative Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

If you only watch and listen to the widespread general media outlets, you may think that COVID-19 is the only health concern right now. Because of the constant focus on the COVID-19 pandemic, attention on preventative health has been neglected.

Many children and families have postponed check ups due to fear of catching COVID-19 if they go to their physicians office. Patients have missed or delayed essential health care including health screenings and vaccinations.

Research has shown that vaccination rates have significantly decreased since mid March. We must do everything we can to keep children from developing severe, preventable diseases.

Preventative healthcare is broken down into primary, secondary and tertiary measures. As physicians, we fail our patients when we neglect any of these measures.

Primary measures include education of our patients on good health habits. I encourage you to stay active and exercise at least three times a week. Get adequate sleep. Eat a healthy diet. Take time to relax and de-stress and stay up to date on your vaccinations.

Secondary measures includes health maintenance. This includes thorough physical exams, blood tests, early screening procedures and preventative medications. There are many disease processes that require our attention in order to ensure early detection and more successful treatment.

Tertiary measures includes support groups as well as rehabilitation programs. Their goal is to improve our overall health and wellness.

My hope is that we will exit this COVID-19 pandemic with better preventative health habits. This includes better handwashing, vaccinations, and better self-care, appropriate health screening and judicious medication usage.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Mr. Rogers and Empathy

If you were a child anytime between 1968 and 2001, chances are that you spent time after school in Mr. Rogers neighborhood. As children, his kindness and thoughtfulness made all of us feel special and cared for.

As we grew older, his stories and shows became mundane to us and we became too cool to stop and listen to his gentle wisdom.

His brilliant methods of teaching and entertaining, however emphasized empathy and storytelling. Simply put, he had the capacity to understand and feel what another person was experiencing from from within their frame of reference. Empathy is an ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling And place oneself in another’s position.

At the commencement for Marquette University in May 2001, Fred Rogers was given an honorary degree: Doctor of Letters. In his speech, he said “I’d like to give you all an invisible gift; a gift of silence to think about those who nourish you at the deepest part of your being – anyone who has ever loved you and wanted what was best for you in life. Some of those people may be here today. Some may be far away. Some may even be in heaven; but if they’ve ever encouraged you to come closer to what you know to be a essential about life, I’d like you to have a silent minute to think of them. “

Empathy at its core, is taking a silent minute to think of another. Empathy in healthcare has become more essential than ever. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing has brought isolation and physical and mental health problems. to better serve our patients, we as healthcare givers need to acknowledge the emotional state of our patients.

The medical profession is beginning to circle back around to the timeless wisdom that Mr. Rogers taught us as children. Be kind. Let others know that they are special just as they are. Maintain your natural curiosity about your patience lives.

Take a minute.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Who’s Paying for Healthcare?

As of July 2020, the Walton family’s net worth was 225.2 billion. They became the richest family in America by building large low-cost superstores all over the world. In 2015, six Waltons were on the Forbes 400 list of richest people in the world.

Knowing this, it is hard to believe that Walmart workers top the list of people relying on tax payor supported Medicaid insurance and food stamps. They pay their employees so poorly that they qualify for public assistance including food stamps and Medicaid. This is a win-win for them because many of their employees will turn around and use the very food stamps that the government provided to buy items within the Walmart stores.

While investors in Walmart as well as owners and top management have achieved great financial success, their workers struggle. Here in Ohio, Walmart employees at the highest number of workers requiring food stamp benefits.

Data from 2014 estimated that Walmart workers cost taxpayers $6.2 billion a year in public assistance. Ironically they pay their employees so poorly that the only place they can afford to shop is at Walmart.

The question of who should pay for healthcare United States is one that will never go away. Currently approximately 92% of people in United States have health insurance. Many people feel that healthcare is a right and that all people are entitled to it. Others feel that people should be free to buy insurance or not.

Few people would argue however that corporations such as Walmart or Amazon that are making hundreds of billions of dollars of profit should pay their employees so poorly that they need to turn to strapped state budgets to provide them basic healthcare or food stamps. Some premium should be assessed that would allow states to partially recoup this significant cost.

It would serve large corporations well to better support the health of their employees. This will lead to a more stable, healthy workforce which would benefit them in the end.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

In Support of Organizations

In the book Bowling Alone, Robert D Putnam discussed ways in which Americans have withdrawn from social and professional organizations. He notes loss of membership and volunteers in many civic organizations such as religious groups, unions, Boy Scouts, and fraternal organizations. He uses the analogy of bowling alone versus bowling in leagues to personalize his point.

If bowling alone, we don’t participate in social issue discussions regarding religion or civic issues. We can remain within own shell and be less open to other ideas. Ultimately, this may lead to erosion of social capital in our society.

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, these disturbing trends are accelerating. Even before we became reliant upon FaceTime to communicate with loved ones and Zoom to interact with our coworkers, Technology, in particular our smart phones was “individualizing“ as Mr. Putnam put it, our leisure time.

Professional organizations in particular are essential. Currently, however, less than 50% of physicians belong to the local state and national medical organizations. They are still receiving many of the financial benefits that paying members support but not the camaraderie and exchange of ideas. It is essential that we all stick together and support with our time and money, the multitude of benefits that are professional medical organizations provide.

Recently, professional organizations have been invaluable Examples of recent activities include helping members operate safely with proper personal protective equipment supplies during the Covid crisis, as well as insurance and professional service discounts. They have further advocated for financial assistance to keep small practices financially afloat during the pandemic crisis, and they have been a resource for up-to-date research and treatment information.

My hope that when we are on the other side of this pandemic crisis, we will appreciate more dearly the value of our social organizations and social work environment. I for one don’t even want to envision permanent work and social environments where we were all sitting alone and talking to our patients, coworkers, and friends through a computer.

Stay well!