Weekend Coffee Share

wordswag_15073188796611453091488Weekend Coffee Share is a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!

Grab a cup of coffee and share with us! What’s been going on in your life? What are your weekend plans? Is there a topic you’ve just been ruminating on that you want to talk about?

If we were having coffee, I’d recommend you visit Wingspread, the Johnson Family (former) home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s in Racine, Wisconsin, a lovely town with a good mix of modern and 19th architecture.

I saw this interesting video on money-free healthcare. Now I do see that it works in a community that shares service and work. I imagine a kibbutz or similar religious community. I don’t see any Western nation going into such a system of sharing, but it is interesting to examine other modes.

I’ve started a MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) by the University of London on Management. So far it’s interesting and a good way to learn about business. I was registered for an online community college class, but dropped it because through Coursera I can learn just as much for free. Now I won’t receive a grade, but I need the knowledge and not 3 credit hours.

On Healthcare

It’s a long video, but Dr. Shiva offers a new, effective way to cut healthcare cost by something like 75%. It’s quite a sensible discussion.

No matter whether we keep the current healthcare payment system or change it, we need to find a different approach to the economics of healthcare. Currently, our system is philosophically based on Florence Nightingale’s 19th century findings.

How Much Does a Knee Replacement Cost?

Concerned about the high cost of healthcare? You’ve got to read this article from the Wall Street Journal. It explains how a hospital routinely just raised the cost of knee replacement surgery by 3% each year. There was no examination of whether there was a true 3% cost increase for them. Currently, this hospital in LaCrosse, Wisconsin was charging just over $50,000 for a knee replacement.

When company carefully audited how much a knee replacement procedure actually cost they followed all the healthcare workers noting all the time and procedures done. They saw what materials were used and what medicines were given. They did extensive examination of all aspects of the procedure. After all their analysis they found out that the knee replacement surgery actually cost $10,550. Pretty shocking, huh?

The article came out on Wednesday, August 22, 2018. The article is only fully available to subscribers. In a few days, you might be able to get it through your library. Publications often embargo articles to get you to subscribe.

I can’t help but wonder how many other procedures are overpriced. You’d think insurance companies would like to keep costs down, but I just learned that they don’t mind completely high priced healthcare because if healthcare was reasonably priced, people wouldn’t get policies. They’d just pay from their savings for common problems and get coverage just for catastrophic matters.

More on Healthcare

I’ve just learned that when you enter the hospital, at least in Illinois, one of the forms you receive is for when you feel you’re being released too soon. You must fill this out before you get released. Then you have a chance at staying.

As I wrote, my aunt was released last Saturday and went to a poor-quality rehab center. On Monday she was readmitted to the hospital with a cracked rib. None of us know the story on that. Then we heard that she’d have a procedure done for her back on Tuesday. I went to the hospital Monday and she wasn’t in her room. She was getting the procedure done. That was rather worrying because:

  1. No one explained to the family what the procedure was or
  2. Why it was being done so fast

I was willing to wait, but if it was going to be hours, I’d come back later. Because of HIPPA, the US rules on privacy, the nurse couldn’t tell me when the procedure began or estimate how long it would take. She couldn’t answer specific questions, which was frustrating and no doubt an unintended consequence of a policy. Finally, I found she could answer, “If you were me, would you wait here?” She said no. Since my aunt was fine when I saw her yesterday, I’m satisfied. However, I also realize from talking to friends whose near and dear ones have been hospitalized, that the doctors and nurses are okay with people not visiting. The fewer witnesses the better? For them, that is.

She had a treatment where they drill holes in your back and insert a substance “like cement” to decompress the vertebrae. She said she felt better and the doctor said she wouldn’t call it surgery, as it’s not that bad. Still I’m shocked that they wanted to release my aunt yesterday, less than 24 hours after getting her back drilled into. What is wrong with American health professionals? Luckily, the new rehab center couldn’t take her till today. I just learned about this form so perhaps she can stay longer.

I really have decided I’d rather take my chances with the healthcare overseas. Not somewhere where they steal your organs of course, but somewhere where they don’t kick you out of the hospital so fast because, they want better productivity. (They can’t make money from people who’re just resting and not getting lots of tests and procedures.)

Healthcare’s the Wrong Word

Last week we found my aunt had fallen and was lying on the floor for at least one day. (She’s a bit cagey about the details.) She went to Lutheran General in Park Ridge and got good care. I was impressed with the nurse’s professionalism there. They always introduced themselves, explained what they had to do and respectfully and carefully answered questions. You could tell they aspired to excellence.

On Saturday she was moved to a nearby rehabilitation center. What a downward slide! I’m just livid about this move and we don’t know who recommended this place. The nurses just don’t seem to care. They’re slow to respond and just seem out of it, like they aren’t listening when spoken to. At different times my aunt and her roommate have asked for assistance to go to the bathroom and it takes the nurses so long to respond that they’ve had accidents. Another time my aunt pressed the bell for a nurse and she took 20 minutes to arrive.

Since the food is not tasty and my aunt needs to eat to gain strength so she can go home, I said I’d bring dinner tonight and then we’d watch Downton Abbey. I got to the center at 6:45 and discovered the chicken place forgot to give us plastic utensils. I asked a nursing assistant for silverware and he said he wasn’t sure he could get any. What?

When I asked how we were supposed to eat, he agreed to try to get silverware and sauntered off. Ten minutes later he returns with one set of utensils. I told him I needed to eat too and he looked very put out, like a put upon teenager. (This man’s 40 if he’s a day). He slowly left to possibly get me silverware.

I’ve checked out their website and couldn’t believe that the images contained are all stock photos that do not resemble the center. I will say the center’s lobby is nicely appointed, but the rest is very drab and basic. On one page it describes the rooms and “suites” (bigger rooms) and mentions it’s like a hotel. They left out that it’s like a one star hotel. Also the picture on this page isn’t of the rooms. It’s a copy of a drawing in one of the corridors! How dodgy!

I know my aunt could get better care in Thailand or South Korea. What does that say about the US?

I pray we can get my aunt out of this place and into somewhere with more caring professionals.

Bughouse Square Debates

Don Washington, Mayoral Tutorial

Shakespeare Project – Julius Caesar

Saturday was the annual Bughouse Square Debates, a celebration of free speech held every July in Chicago’s Washington Park. It’s free and great fun. The even opened with an actor from the Shakespeare Project reading from Julius Caesar followed by an introduction by The Chicago Tribune’s Rick Kogan. Kogan welcomed the crowd, explained the event’s history and shared Illinois governor John Altgeld‘s releasing the remaining Haymaker Square  protesters.

Then two Chicago Reader columnists received the 2014 Altgeld Free Speech award.Next Don Washington, the main speaker, took the stage. Washington gave an interactive “Mayoral Tutorial” which clued the audience in to how the current mayor is simply repackaging and using new terms to continue former Mayor Daly’s failed privatization schemes. For example, the “Concept Schools” are under investigation by the FBI because they allegedly use funds inappropriately to get visas for teachers from Turkey and Central Asia. Quite an unexpected way to keep teachers’ wages low. Another form of privatization Rahm’s Red Light ticketing scam, which anyone who watches local news knows are erratic and have been giving drivers who’ve done nothing wrong $100 tickets and the driver’s obligated to prove they’re innocent.

Washington was a powerful speaker and added playful interaction in his talk. He got the crowd to reach out to each other with a bingo game, which made me nervous as the man behind us was clearly a loud drunk. Luckily by the time I’d chatted with the people in front of us, someone had won. The reason for the interaction was that Washington thinks that people don’t know their neighbors and therefore can’t advocate for change since they’re isolated.

Don Washington

Don Washington

When Washington finished, the debates expanded as speakers took to the four soap box areas. I heard speakers on religion, Syria, healthcare and labor. This year wasn’t as good as in the past when speakers were paired with someone who disagreed with them. This year people just gave speeches. Only the Evangelical preacher was dynamic and got and handled hecklers with aplomb. The other speakers needed to practice more. Only the speaker on Syria and religion offered facts I hadn’t heard.

I was surprised that so much of the audience was over 60 — at least 50%. Aren’t the young interested in free speech? There were food trucks with empanadas, organic sausages and gelato.

I brought a former Chinese student with me and I tried to summarize and answer her questions. I do wonder what she thought of the event, which takes on tough issues with intelligence and frivolity.