Archive for the ‘care’ Category

Veteran’s kin wants answers on PTSD drugs

November 13, 2008

A West Virginia man whose son survived the battlefields of Iraq only to die in his sleep at home is crusading to find other military families whose loved ones also have died after taking drugs prescribed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

By Andrea Billups
The Washington Times 

Stan White’s son Andrew, who was found dead in bed at the family’s Cross Lanes, W.Va., home on Feb. 12, 2007, is one among a cluster of young veterans in the state who have died in their sleep with little explanation. Now Mr. White wants the federal government to monitor the drugs it prescribes to some 375,000 soldiers who have been diagnosed with mental trauma.

So far, he has identified nine veterans across the country – including four in West Virginia – who have died in their sleep after taking antidepressant and antipsychotic medications.

Mr. White has met with members of Congress and asked for Capitol Hill hearings to investigate the deaths. His research prompted a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) investigation into Andrew’s and one other death, which were found to have been caused by “combined drug intoxication.” But the investigation could not determine whether the prescribed medications were at fault….

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Obama health plan to cost $75 billion

November 12, 2008

President-elect Barack Obama‘s plans to overhaul the U.S. health care system would cost the federal government $75 billion but would provide health insurance for 95 percent of Americans, consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers said on Wednesday.

This works out to about $2,500 per newly insured person, the firm said in a report.

“The plan would increase to $1 trillion cumulatively by 2018 or approximately $130 billion per year,” the report said.

While the plan would extend health insurance to two-thirds of the 47 million people who currently lack it, the overhaul may worsen some problems, such as a shortage of primary care doctors, the analysis found.

“Unless costs are cut, growing health care costs will increase the costs of Obama’s plan dramatically over time and reduce the effectiveness of mandates. This could make the federal costs unsustainably high,” the report read.

From Reuters

Carmela Cantore, 78, receives a flu shot, offered free by the ... 
Carmela Cantore, 78, receives a flu shot, offered free by the city of Chicago. According to an October 2008 study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in three Americans had difficulty paying medical bills this year. Almost half of those surveyed said they had a family member who did without their medicine or postponed or reduced their recommended medical care because of the cost.(AFP/Getty Images/File/Tim Boyle)

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Veteran’s Day: Remember Their Health Care

November 11, 2008

While fixing the economy will certainly be a dominant issue for both President-elect Obama and the 111th Congress, we hope, on this Veterans Day, that health care for our wounded warriors will also be a top priority. Regrettably, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are likely to continue to add to the numbers of veterans in need of mental and physical treatment and rehabilitation.

To meet this need, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must have sufficient resources provided in a timely and predictable manner next year, and for years to come.

About 18 percent of men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have already returned home at risk of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression, according to a recent study by the Rand Corp.

By Raymond Dempsey
The Washington Times

Another 19 percent are estimated of having experienced a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by improvised explosive devices that “rattle” the brain. In total more than 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may already be suffering from these often invisible wounds of war.

In too many cases, the VA is unable to properly treat the physical and mental scars of war, in part because its budget has been late for most of the past two decades, and the amount of funding – which has thankfully grown in the last two years – is wildly unpredictable from year to year.

The result is that the VA is severely constrained in trying to plan or manage its budget. Robert Perreault, a former Veterans Health Administration chief business officer, has rightly noted in congressional testimony that “VA funding and the appropriations process is a process no effective business would tolerate.”

Such haphazard financing can directly affect the quality of care at VA hospitals and clinics across the country. Insufficient or late funding can mean an increase in waiting times for appointments. Purchasing new and replacement medical equipment may be put on hold, further delaying the delivery of needed medical treatment. And life-altering conditions such as PTSD and TBI may go undertreated or are not treated at all if specialized mental health care personnel cannot be hired when needed.

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The Meltdown of the American Media

November 5, 2008

More than the economy has melted down. What remains of big media credibility has also liquefied and won’t recover anytime soon, if it ever does.

Don’t take my word for it. The ombudsman for The Washington Post acknowledges that conservatives have a point when they claim an imbalance in coverage of Barack Obama and John McCain.

By Cal Thomas
The Washington Times
In her Nov. 2 column, Deborah Howell writes, “…it’s true that The Post, as well as much of the national news media, has written more stories and more favorable stories about Barack Obama than John McCain. Editors have their reasons for this, but conservatives are right that they often don’t see their views reflected enough in the news pages.”

What might be “their reasons”? There is only one answer: Too many journalists have been in the tank for Mr. Obama and wanted to see him elected president. Some Post reporters (Ms. Howell doesn’t say how many) “complained to me that suggestions for issues coverage have been turned aside” in favor of horse-race coverage, despite reader complaints about too much coverage of the race itself and not enough of the candidates’ positions on the issues.

Journalism is the only profession I know that ignores the wishes of its consumers. If a department store found that most of its customers preferred over-the-calf socks to ankle-length socks, would that store ignore customer preferences for the longer socks because the president of the company preferred the ankle-length style? Not if the store wanted to make a profit in the sock department. Yet journalists have this attitude: “we know what’s good for you, so shut up and take it.”

Ms. Howell calls this arrogance….

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Even in Defeat, Media ‘Disrespects’ McCain

November 5, 2008

Even as he stood humbly in defeat, the media that couldn’t get enough of ignoring or belittling John McCain did it again.  The most conservative newspaper in America, The Washington Times, while praising Navy hero John McCain, couldn’t care enough to correctly cite the aircraft carrier upon which he almiost died in a terrible fuel and rocket stoked fire: USS Forrestal.  The Times said it was “USS Forester.”

USS Forrestal: 134 sailors died in a terrible fire which
trapped John McCain; but he escaped

This might be a small thing as the nation rejoices in a history making event, but to a Navy veteran and journalist like me, this is the emblematic end error in a long line of oversights, errors, malignings and just outright not caring from the media toward Mr. McCain.

When the party celebrating Barack Obama’s historic victory clears, and it better be soon as their are many crises on his plate and on the national agenda, we, as a nation, need to take a hard look at media objectivity, honesty and integrity…

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers remarks during an election night rally in Phoenix Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Associated Press.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., delivers remarks during an election night rally in Phoenix Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Associated Press.

Our Holiday Season: A Good Time To Discuss Drugs and Alcohol in America

December 27, 2007

By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
December 27, 2007

Garber, Oklahoma — John and Mike wait a lonely vigil at the Oklahoma City airport just after midnight. They are there to meet a man they have never seen before. The man is addicted to physician prescribed medications and he is seeking help.

There is a crisis of addicts and alcoholics seeking help overwhelming America’s medical system and privately run treatment centers. Between October and January 1st, many alcoholics and drug addicts – people already on the perilous verge of self destruction even on the best days, start to come apart at the seams.

There is more than anecdotal evidence of this phenomena: one only need ask a member of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA); a member of the community of caregivers, physicians, nurses, counselors and advisors who perform the lonely, often desperate work; or one of the ministers and priest who preach the word of the “Higher Power” to these broken people.

Trying to provide alternatives to alcohol and drugs, especially during the holidays, means teaching detoxification, rehabilitation, hope, prayer and recovery.

Peter arrives in Oklahoma and is greeted by John and Mike. Peter’s face speaks loudly of his agony, fatalism and addiction. He looks like he has been tortured – and he has. He has lost his wife, his business is near collapse and his eight year old daughter urged him to quit. He is here for detoxification and recovery.

Alcohol and dugs are equal opportunity scourges. As a young congressional staff member, I remember Wilbur Mills, then chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and one of the steepest falls from power in congressional history. Alcohol obviously impaired his judgment: and one of the most powerful men in Washington faced the scandal that involved a stripper with the stage name Fanne Foxe or “the Argentine Firecracker,” and an early morning romp in the tidal basin.

It was not a pretty sight – and it never is.

Michael is an alcoholic who suffers from diabetes who has been told by his doctors that he will be blind before long. At about the time of Mr. Mills’ troubles, Michael was practically a national hero. He held a world record in his athletic specialty and a gold medal from the Olympics. Today he suffers the agony of addiction and participates in daily AA meetings: sessions he calls his “lifeline.”

We came to Garber, Oklahoma, to see for ourselves one of the more respected, small and personal drug and alcohol treatment facilities. William (Bill) Alexander owns and manages The Manor House – a place of learning, solace, counseling and serenity for recovering addicts of all kinds.

“A drug is a drug, is a drug,” says Bill. “The addicted person doesn’t care much what substance he used once he makes a commitment to recovery. Once he or she makes the decision to admit that real help is needed and there is a strong desire to make the effort to recover, we provide him or her the tools to do so.”

“Drug use continues to be a serious public health crisis that affects every aspect of our society,” said Charles Curie of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). “We must refuse to give up on people who have handed over their aspirations and their futures to drug use. People need to know help is available, treatment is effective and recovery is possible.”

Sara is not yet thirty years old. She attended nine high schools before her state declared her persona non grata. She had been repeatedly caught using and selling drugs in schools.“I have three felony convictions,” Sara told us. “Usually, when I talk to people, there isn’t even time to get into all the misdemeanors.  I was thrown out of a “crack house” for bad behavior. I needed help and I came to Garber to get it. When you reach ‘rock bottom’ sometimes you fear death and pain so much that you have to decide: do I want to live or will I soon die? I chose to live.”

In the most recent SAMHSA survey of drug and alcohol treatment facilities, nearly 13,800 facilities participated, reporting more than 1.1 million clients in treatment. Facilities operated by private non-profit organizations made up the bulk of treatment facilities (59 percent).  Private for-profit facilities made up 28 percent of these services in 2006, with the remaining facilities operated by local governments (7 percent), state governments (3 percent), the Federal government (2 percent) and tribal governments (1 percent).

The number of private for-profit facilities is growing each year. Many addicts, former addicts, and their families highly recommend the personal care, education and attention provided at these facilities. Some larger not for profit facilities we visited had four resident in one bedroom and classes of fifty or more addicts receiving recovery training.

At private facilities, the care is more personalized and tailored to the needs of the individual.

The “system” of treatment options is straining under the pressure of a growing number of addicts seeking recovery and sobriety. In a March 2006 survey of treatment facilities conducted by SAMHSA, ninety-one percent of all non-hospital residential beds and 90 percent of all hospital inpatient beds designated for substance abuse treatment were in use.

There are about 2 million Americans participating in AA meetings. The number of alcoholics and drug users not seeking treatment cannot be accurately measured but care givers put the number in the tens of millions.  Most experts believe about ten percent of America’s population of 300 million has a serious drug or alcohol problem: that’s 30 million Americans. 

This holiday season, treatment facilities and hospitals are at capacity. Trying to find hospital supervised detoxification in Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas was next to impossible the week before Christmas. And this is not a regional problem. Shortages exist nation wide. We witnessed troubled addicts seeking help turned away and told to “make an appointment” for a later date: after the holidays or in the springtime.

Addicts in desperate need cannot keep some of those appointments because they die before the “system” can embrace them.

Despite all the blessings and wealth of American life, we still struggle to understand, provide treatment and hold out hope to a growing tidal wave of alcoholics and other addicts. The crisis is particularly explosive between Thanksgiving and New Years Day.

The holiday season is a good time to talk about addiction and treatment in America.

John E. Carey is a frequent contributor to The Washington Times, a former senior U.S. military officer and president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.

China set to beef up health plan

December 22, 2007

By Mure Dickie in Beijing
Financial Times (UK)

China is to dramatically increase funding for a co­-operative medical insurance system covering more than 700m rural residents, with government subsidies for the scheme set to double next year.

The decision to raise funding for the “New Co-operative Medical Scheme” highlights growing government confidence that the system can ease the burden of healthcare costs on farmers – a policy goal of the administration of Hu Jintao, China’s president.

Senior leaders had decided to double standard contributions for each member of the scheme to ….

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