Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Lost Cause

Lost Cause

There was no disguising the pain on the face of the physician when the discussion on the topic of obesity came to a close. Over sixty, he had seen a career filled hard luck cases. Debilitated and dying children were the grist for his mill, yet he remained positive despite the exposure to all these tragedies. Illness in children is not entirely avoidable. A person who works in pediatrics as long as he found peace in helping those he could help, without becoming distraught by the cases where he was helpless to alter dire outcomes.

The conversation progressed from an anecdote of a patient post-op who was accompanied by seven highly trained medical professionals packed into an ICU room. Fourteen drips were running, and another staff member stood before a computer in the hallway, laboring to document the various interventions underway, along with constant assessments being taken and recorded, as well.

How much does it cost to compensate skilled healthcare workers? All are required to complete lengthy preparations that do not come cheap. Just serving the school debts of the people at the patient's bedside is an enormous sum. All tolled, the care for this patient far exceeded any premiums she had paid into her healthcare plan.

Insurance spreads the cost across a pool of people, managing the risk present for each and every one of its members. Some of us will get cancer, and the bills will be born by the lucky people in the pool who are not ill. It works great for diseases that are relatively rare. It doesn't work at all when 35% of the pool has a severe illness.

35% of adults in the United States are obese. That is a pool buster. Diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular demise, they all lead to patients in ICUs surrounded by caregivers who are still paying off their medical school bills. That's what was killing the Doc who had seen it all over his distinguished career. Obesity isn't just killing his patients, it is undermining his profession. How are the 65% who aren't obese going to pay the bills of the 35% who are? And, what really wrinkled his brow is the fact that there is no good reason for so many of our children to be so overweight.

He had heard the last beats of the hearts of young ones passing on from diseases no one could cure, and managed to maintain enthusiasm for treating those he could. Now, 35% of the country is putting their health up for grabs, despite the fact that changes in diet and exercise are well known solutions. Our nation has become a patient that could thrive, if only it could muster a will to live.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Downtown Drive-Thru: Abbreviated History of the City of Middletown

Abbreviated History Middletown

1/18/78 – The roof of the Hartford Civic Center collapses under the weight of snow.

89 – The Buttonwood Tree Bookstore and Performance Center opens on North Main Street.

7/28/89 2:20 PM – Nine-year-old Jessica Short of Wallingford is stabbed to death during a street fair on Main Street.

3/93 – Mayor Sebastian Garafalo appoints himself as tax collector. The Republican Town Committee replaces the vacancy in the Mayor’s office with Stephen Gionfriddo.

94 - Oddfellows Playouse, with extensive community support, acquired and renovated the 10,000 sq. ft. historic building that is now its home on Washington St.

3/18/94 – Klekolo World Coffee opens on Court Street.

96 - North End Action Team (NEAT) evolved in 1996 from a city-sponsored Urban Homesteading Task Force, begun in response to widespread concerns about negative conditions in the city's North End.

2/16/00 - John McCain wins a majority at the Middletown Straw Poll

7/1/01 – Middletown’s Downtown Business District, created earlier in the year via a successful referendum, establishes a tax rate of 3 mils.

2/21/04 - John Edwards wins a majority at the Middletown Straw Poll

6/15/05 - Retired Connecticut State Trooper Michael Bochicchio Jr. opened fire in the Middletown Superior Court parking lot on with a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol loaded with hollow-point bullets, killing Donna Bochicchio and seriously wounding Julie Porzio. He then shot himself in the head. The shooting occurred in the middle of the Bochicchios' divorce trial; Porzio was representing Donna Bochicchio.

9/14/05 – Mayor Domenique Thornton charged with DUI by the Middletown Police Department.

9/21/05 – Charges against Mayor Thornton are dropped is Middlesex Superior Court.

11/8/05 – The Mayor loses her bid for re-election. The election of Common Council is subsequently ordered by the State Supreme Court to be repeated owing to the use of a faulty voting machine on this Election Day.

6/23/06 – Former Mayor Stephen Gionfriddo pleads guilty to mail fraud and wire fraud charges in federal court.

8/31/06 – O’Rourke’s Diner burns down. It has no fire insurance.

1/25/08 - Ron Paul wins a pleurality at the Middletown Straw Poll

2/11/08 5 AM – O’Rourke’s Diner reopens with help from the community.

5/16/08 1:30 AM – Middletown Police arrest five Wesleyan university students. Tasers, dogs and pepper spray are used to control the crowd. Two students are sent to Middlesex Hospital, one with multiple dog bites.

4/09 - The City of Middletown issues a cease-and-desist order to the local chapter of Food Not Bombs. Prior to the order, the City Health Inspector had cited the organization for distributing food without a license.

5/6/09 Wesleyan Junior Johanna Justin-Jinich is shot to death as she worked behind the counter of the Red and Black Café in Broad Street Books.

2/7/10 11:17 AM A natural gas explosion occurred at the Kleen Energy Systems power station. The initial blast killed five and injured at least fifty; one of the injured later died in hospital, bringing the total death toll to six. Earth-quake-like tremors are felt ten miles away.

5/18/10 After hastily adjourning a special meeting of the Board of Education in executive session, Board Chairman Ted Raczka walks down the hall to confront a Middletown police officer, assigned to guard the Board of Ed offices against evidence tampering in a case between the City and the Board of Ed. Eventually, eight officers are called to the scene, including the Chief of Police. At the same time, MPD is investigating two homicide cases.

2/2/11 Occupants of 505 Main Street flee the building moments before it suffers a catastrophic collapse, due to the weight of snow piled on the roof. Bricks flung from the collapse damage cars on Main Street.

10/17/11 Deputy Chief Patrick McMahon placed on administrative leave following allegations by fellow police officers that he was drinking beer while in his duty uniform and carrying his sidearm.

11/8/11 The Mayor loses his bid for re-election.

2/9-11/12 - John Basinger performs a one man version of King Lear at the Oddfellows Playhouse on Broad Street. Basinger is renowned for reciting “Paradise Lost” from memory.

12/12 - A grand jury subpoena was served on the Middletown-based Community Health Center Inc. in early December, demanding documents including any emails and paper communications with numerous Democratic officials and political aides, including Wyman, Barnes, and former state House Speaker Christopher Donovan.

12/14/12 - Daniel Persaud is unaccounted for since approximately midnight, when he fell into the river near the East Hartford boat launch.

2/8-9/13 Three feet of snow falls on Middletown. Schools are closed for the following week.

3/19/13 – Police are called to the home of Planning and Zoning Commissioner Molly Salafia in response to an unsolicited visit to her porch by Board of Ed Member Ed McKeon. He is publicly opposed to zoning changes that would make it possible to build a Starbucks on a part of Washington Street that previously only allowed residences.

8/3/13 - Middletown Police recover a corpse in the waters between Wilcox Island and mainland Middletown.

8/12/13 - East Hartford Police identify the body discovered on 8/3/13 (see 8/3/13), as Daniel Persaud, unaccounted for since 12/14/12 (see 12/14/12)