Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Health of our ACH Colleagues and the Economic Health of the Alliance Community and Eastern Stark County

The Ohio Hospital Association challenged all of its members to promote wellness in our hospitals and encourage our communities to do so as well. Today we initiated our GET FIT campaign. It began with registration for those individuals who want to participate in our version of “The Biggest Loser.” We are organizing teams and have received a lot of help from Mt. Union College regarding the personal trainers. We will let you know how we do in May.

We keep hearing that we are transitioning to a service economy and in many school systems vocational programs are the first programs to be cut. Well, in Alliance we had to make some tough cuts regarding the school budget that impacted these programs. There are many more students graduating from Alliance High School who won’t attend college than those who will. Interestingly enough, in Alliance and many of the surrounding communities, local business owners are saying they need more skilled workers in the trades; they would be most interested in interns, and work-study students.

Well, we are very fortunate in Alliance to have a superintendent of schools with a vision of how best to match the needs of our business communities with those of our students. Dual credits could be offered that might inspire those who thought they could never enter college to do so. If most of the students graduating have hope of a good career path, then we could help local businesses grow; with more and better jobs, we could help stabilize the housing market, which needs all the help it could get right now.

Very shortly, local citizens will get the chance to vote on a school levy Issue 20, which is focused on achieving the vision described above. A healthy local economy and investing in our kids’ collective future is a great way to GET FIT Alliance.

Talk with you soon.

Monday, January 21, 2008

As promised, here’s some closure to my last Blog

After hearing from our candidates, I must say I was encouraged. Although I am personally not a fan of Dennis Kucinich’s all-public governmental approach to healthcare and the elimination of all for-profit healthcare entities, he spoke well and was much more likeable than I had expected.

Mitt Romney has already shown he can make change happen. Even if Massachusetts isn’t the perfect approach, you have to start somewhere. Of course, it would be nice to know in advance where we are going to end up before we begin our journey and Romney seems to at least have a plan. I was impressed because he was the only candidate that actually asked for my vote.

John McCain’s free market approach is one I usually prefer, but you need a level playing field in healthcare and in my opinion, we, like the government, need a lot more checks and balances.

John Edwards was certainly the most likeable of those present. His accent sounded more Cantonese than southern and his story about encouraging his daughter to attend Mt.Union College instead of Harvard University was perhaps one of the lighter moments of the day - and it was very well-received by the audience.

Not to be out done, Barack Obama showed a sense of humor as soon as he entered the room by asking the crowd, "Can you smell it in the air? Change is coming and much of it is good. Out with the bad odor of stagnant old time politics; in with the good. BO is for Barack Obama and I want to be leading the good changes that we need.”

Our audiences voted only on the merits of each of the candidates’ healthcare platforms.
Hilary and Obama combined for about 32 %( 16% each) of the vote. John McCain and Mitt received the most Republican interest with 23% and 18%, respectively.

My hope is that whoever is elected will implement the best ideas of all the candidates, in order to actually change the system -- even if those ideas came from former competitors.

Talk with you soon.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Presidential Candidates Address IHN Leadership Summit Conference

Canton, Ohio - Eight candidates seeking to be the next President of the United States were present to speak before the Independent Hospital Network Leadership Summit Conference in Canton on Friday, January 11.

Here’s a summary of the events from a roving reporter’s first-hand perspective.

Taking time out before heading off to the primary in Michigan, four of the leading Democratic and Republican Presidential hopefuls presented their Healthcare Reform Plans to delegates from the Independent Hospital Network.

Hillary Clinton opened, and clearly let her emotions of the campaign process show when she started talking about the strain of campaigning and then quickly regrouped to focus on a hardluck story about how our healthcare system failed a man whose life was destroyed by the current system. She said that what he had worked a lifetime to achieve, was ruined after he lost his job and then suffered a heart attack; both of which ultimately led to the loss of his life savings. Hillary said that because of our flawed health system, this man, yes, is still alive, but everything that he has worked for is all gone.. Hillary, like two of her fellow Democratic colleagues, is pushing both a private and public platform of change.

Rudy Giuliani, on the other hand, said he prefers a market place approach to fixing our nation’s health woes. In a lighter moment, he said he really had to question why our legislators seem to be spending more time worrying about sports and steroids than healthcare. He asked that we focus more on the health of the nation and a little less on the well-being of the Yankees.

I believe “Huck” was up next,(by the way, I failed to mention that none other than Chris Matthews from NBC’s Hardball was our MC). I must admit I liked Mike Huckabee’s remark that people need to be more responsible for their own health and that a consumer- driven model makes a lot of sense.

More to come from this reporter on today’s events, but that will have to wait until tomorrow…I have some scheduled meetings and our team is working on gathering consumer information… a story for another day.

At the end of today, however, we did take a straw vote-- just based on the Healthcare Reform issue. I will share those results in a future blog.

Talk to you soon.