Monday, September 2, 2013

(123) A Labor Day Salute to the Staff People of the University of Rio Grande (Southeastern Ohio)



AMDG

Published in the Gallipolis Daily Tribune September 3, 2013.  Go to http://mydailytribune.com/news/editorials-opinion/2488308/A-Labor-Day-salute-to-the-staff-at-Rio.


       While teaching at the University of Rio Grande, I wrote this piece to honor our staff people there.  Today as Professor Emeritus of Management I try to contribute wherever I can.  This tribute is really applicable to any organization.  I hope to point out that every employee is important and a valuable member of the team; every worker makes a difference.  When one person is absent or does not do his/her job and does not do the best s/he can, the entire organization suffers.  As in football, one missed block and the quarterback is sacked.

A LABOR DAY SALUTE TO THE STAFF PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSITY

    Labor Day is all about the tremendous dignity of the worker and his/her work.  This great dignity of the person has its origin in the different faiths.  Based upon this concept, they have had a great influence upon business practice especially in regard to ethics, social responsibility, social justice, and legislation against abuses in the workplace.....slavery, child-labor, unsafe & inhumane working conditions, unjust wages, etc.    

     For example, John Wesley pricked the conscience of 19th Century Britain.  Two of his disciples, William Wilberforce & Lord Shaftesbury were reformers in the British Parliament.  Leo XIII's 1891 papal encyclical "Rerum Novarum on the Condition of Labor" had a world-wide impact and continues as part of the social teachings of the Church which is updated as new problems, controversies, and issues come up.    

    Jews, Muslims, and Christians believe that even the lowest paid worker has this great dignity because s/he was created by God according to His image and likeness.  Christians add that Christ as God suffered and died to save each one of us and draw inspiration from His words, "Whatever you do to the least of mine, you do it unto Me".  As I understand it, the Hindus use the word "Namaste" as a greeting, which means welcome and/or "I acknowledge the divine in you".  Secular humanists in their own way also believe in the dignity of the person.  

    Work in itself has great dignity, according to the Christian view, because man (in a generic sense) uses work to participate with God in creation which is ongoing.....to construct buildings, to create goods & services, and works of art.  Martin Luther preached that even the most menial work should be done for the glory of God.  This conviction led to the Protestant work ethic which some scholars say was a major factor in the economic development of the West after the Reformation.  Ignatius Loyola, advocated a similar work ethic ("Ad majorem Dei gloriam") as the part of the Catholic Counterreformation.  The second papal encyclical of John Paul II, "Laborem Exercens", was devoted to the Theology of Work.     

    On Labor Day, I sometimes reflect upon the tremendous dignity of each worker and his/her importance to the organization.....each making a very important contribution according to his/her education, skills, and abilities.  From time to time, I like to say to the custodian in our building: "Thank you for keeping our place clean.  It would be a real dump without you".  Then I was thinking that we, the line faculty, tend to take our many support people for granted and they deserve our appreciation.  We couldn't do without them.  Thus, I would like to thank each staff person for helping us to perform our mission.     

-I thank the secretaries for making our jobs so much easier and more efficient with their typing, filing, help with scheduling, reminders, assisting students, organizing, handling the many forms, and a myriad of other jobs.   

-I thank our landscaping people for making our campus beautiful and enjoyable to walk through.      

-I thank the maintenance people for keeping the buildings and equipment in repair.   

-I thank the Cafeteria and Food Court people for the fine meals and snacks they serve us.   

-I thank the Housekeeping people for keeping our classrooms, offices, and other facilities clean....making Rio a nicer place in which to work. 

-I thank the Campus Security people for keeping our campus safe and helping us in many other ways.   

-I thank the Fitness, Health Services, & Counseling Center people who maintain our emotional and physical well being.   

-I thank the Admissions people, upon whom our jobs and livelihood depend. 

-I thank the Continuing & Economic Education people for their outreach to the Community. 

-I thank the Switchboard people who direct outside phone calls to the right person. 

-I thank the Crossroads people for helping to turn lives around. 

-I thank the Financial Aid people who help to make it possible for many students to attend college who otherwise could not. 

-I thank the Multiethnic Affairs person who maintain our international students and promote diversity & its understanding.   

-I thank the Post Office people for helping us to send out & receive packages & mail from within & outside the university.   

-I thank the Alumni Relations & the Institutional Advancement people who bring donations that improve the University and keep it afloat.   

-I thank the coaches & others involved in extracurricular activities who supplement our teaching of values & skills so indispensable to the professional formation of our students plus the athletic events, recreation, theater, art exhibits, and concerts that   enrich our lives.    

-I thank the Housing people for maintaining decent places for our students to live in.   

-I thank the Print Shop people who print our handouts and fliers.  

-I thank the Purchasing, Accounting, & Finance people who control our costs and keep us solvent.   

-I thank the C.A.R.S. people who advise & counsel our students and help them to plan their careers.  

-I thank the H.R. people who help us hire new employees and maintain the current members of our team.....benefits, labor relations, orientation, etc.  

-I thank the Campus Computing & M.I.S. people for keeping our information technology system up to date & working as it gives us timely information.   

-I thank the Records people who collect our grades and give  them to the students and us for advising.    

-I thank the librarians who help us teach students to do research and write decent papers.            

-I thank the people at the Learning Center & the Media Center who supplement and assist us in our teaching.  The professors can't do it alone.   

-I thank the Bookstore people who provide us with our texts & supplies for our courses.               

-I thank the University Relations people for helping to get the word out about our wonderful community college & university that has done so much for our students for the surrounding community with the sky as the limit to our potential.   

-I thank the Title III people who are helping to improve our advising, increasing retention, and providing additional training of our employees.   

-I thank the Madog Center for Welsh Studies people who are making us and the surrounding community aware of this area's rich heritage.

-I thank the other administrators who coordinate our work activities and help us all to work together as a TEAM.   

-I know I've forgotten somebody and I thank them too.   

-I thank all staff people because we front line faculty couldn't do our jobs without them.  THAT MEANS WE NEED EACH OTHER AS WE STRIVE FOR A BETTER COLLEGE & UNIVERSITY TO SERVE OUR STUDENTS.  THAT MAKES US ALL TOGETHER.....faculty, staff and students.....AN INTERDEPENDENT  CAMPUS COMMUNITY.   

Sunday, September 1, 2013

(122) Alternatives to Obamacare.......There has to be a better way!



AMDG

       Will Obamacare eventually break the Country?  According to an Associated Press article published in the August 2, 2013 issue of the Gallipolis (Ohio) Daily Tribune, “Ohioans using the new marketplaces created by the federal health care law will pay on average 41% more on their monthly premiums, state insurance officials said Thursday.”  Medicaid (federal and state) will increase greatly to cover the uninsured poor.  Our national debt and huge budget deficits year after year are already unsustainable.  Obamacare may break the camel’s back.  See my Blog #102, "The Choice in the National Debt Crisis: Sink or Swim Together" (http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2012/11/102-choice-in-national-debt-crisis-sink.html). Are there other ways to make health care affordable without sinking the economy? 
 
       There has to be a better way.  With creativity and good will, it can be done if communities mobilize their resources to help the uninsured poor according to the Principle of Subsidiarity, promulgated by the Popes since as far back as Pope Leo XIII over 120 years ago and has been so much a part of Church social teaching.  As defined by the Acton Institute for the study of Religion and Liberty (http://www.acton.org/pub/religion-liberty/volume-6-number-4/principle-subsidiarity), this tenet holds that nothing should be done by a larger and more complex organization which can be done as well by a smaller and simpler organization. This principle just happens to be the foundation for personal freedom and limited government that we as a country have held dearly since our nation was founded.
   
        Would community supported neighborhood clinics work for the uninsured?  They could be staffed by a nurse practitioner under the supervision of a doctor for routine cases.  If staffed mostly by volunteers backed by donations, the treatment could be even free.  If staffed by paid health professionals, the patients could be charged on a sliding scale according to family income.  With either model the local, state, or federal government could match private donations without taking control or over-regulating.  Could midwives deliver babies in the neighborhood clinic or even at home under the supervision of an obstetrician on call, who would intervene when complications occur during pregnancy or delivery?

     I first saw this concept in Peru as a lay missionary there for 14 years.  The American Maryknoll Fathers would set up parishes with a posta medica for the poor, manned by a lay or religious missionary nurse.  They assume the role of a nurse practitioner and have access to a local doctor as needed.  I often wondered whether this concept would work here in the United States until we started the French 500 Free Clinic in Gallipolis, OH (http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2012/08/91-description-of-french-500-free-clinic.html).  The prime mover, Dr. Mel Simon is in the process of organizing his 30th medical mission of 25 or so volunteer surgeons and nurses since 1985 to his native Philippine Islands (See (http://paulrsebastianphd.blogspot.com/2011/10/dr-mel-simon-career-serving-god-his.html). 
  
     Free clinics for the uninsured, supported by donations, are scattered throughout the country.  There are some 45 free clinics in Ohio alone that belong to the Ohio Association of Free Clinics.   See www.ohiofreeclinics.org and www.needymeds.org for pharmaceuticals.  When doctors and nurses volunteer their time and talent, they make little or no money, but receive great satisfaction and spiritual growth.  This is especially true of retired doctors and nurses, who aspire to have a fulfilling retirement and continue to feel needed and useful, while working on their own terms at their own pace the number of hours they wish.  In Ohio and some other states volunteers in such clinics cannot be sued for malpractices.  Furthermore, patients sign a waiver to protect volunteer doctors against lawsuits.

     In many cases local hospitals cooperate by providing diagnostic tests and lab work either free or at a reduced rate.  After all, it is in their interest to reduce the very large and costly load of having to treat indigent patients in the emergency room, which is the most inefficient way for treating the flu.  In many states non-profit hospitals are required to treat them free of charge.

     Many specialists do a certain amount of free work for patients referred by a free clinic as well as others.  Many doctors write off a significant amount of charges to patients who cannot pay.  If these doctors could obtain tax deductions for the value of their free work, this type of pro bono work would be even more common. 
         
      In some dioceses, Catholic Charities have clinics staffed by volunteer doctors and nurses.  These are either free or the charge is made on a sliding scale according to family income.  The Diocese of Pittsburgh is a wonderful example (http://www.ccpgh.org/page.aspx?pid=295&txtSearch=Free+Health+Care).   There is a certain power when the community mobilizes its resources instead of depending upon Big Government, not to mention the development of virtue and other spiritual benefits.  Too often when Government takes over, it becomes impersonal…….”giving without love and care without concern” while individual responsibility for neighbor is diminished and a culture of dependency is created. 
 
     The Government currently subsidizes a number of medical and dental clinics that charge on a sliding scale according to family income.  For example, Family Health Care Inc. with headquarters in Chillicothe, Ohio (www.familyhealthcareinc.org) served Appalachian Ohio for thirty years on a sliding scale in a number of satellite clinics in smaller towns.  This concept seems to be much simpler than a costly coercive bureaucratic national health insurance plan run by a bureaucratic government with thousands of pages of regulations that depends upon for-profit health insurance companies.

      Recently at a funeral I met Dr. Russell Miller, a doctor in Patton, a small rural town near Altoona, Pennsylvania.  He takes his profession to serve so seriously that he makes once a week house calls to patients who would have difficulty to visit his office.  It’s a real chore to take a bedridden patient in a wheel chair to a doctor’s office, not to mention the strain on the patient.  He aspires to restore the personal touch in medicine.  He also has a number of ideas about organizing community health centers.  What a breath of fresh air!


      Home Care is so much cheaper than putting a loved one out to pasture in a nursing home, but the care giver may have to work or cannot handle the load alone.  The caregiver gives more tender loving care than any expensive nursing home could.  Could the care giver and a relative to help if necessary receive a stipend from Medicare or an income tax credit so that s/he would not have to work?  This would be in addition to a home care visiting nurse which Medicare does provide for.  Typical is Ohio Valley Home Health Care (www.ovhh.org).  Generally, patients are much happier if they can be near family instead of being stuck in a nursing home.  However, the home caregiver must care for her own health and avoid burnout.  The extended family must help.

   Non-Profit Community Hospitals and Charity Hospitals.  The options mentioned so far provide considerable outpatient medical care, but makes little provision for in-patient hospitalization for the poor who cannot afford health insurance.  Hospitals already do a considerable amount of charity work.  In fact about 60% of American hospitals are non-profit and must devote a significant amount of their resources to treat the uninsured poor (http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/08/obamacare-installs-new-scrutiny-fines-for-charitable-hospitals-that-treat-uninsured-people/#ixzz2dghlKOADa).


      Holzer Medical Center in rural Gallia County, Ohio is probably typical.  It gives about a 30% discount to the uninsured who pay out of pocket and charge even less on a sliding scale to the poor.  However, the patient must talk to the hospital social worker first.  It writes off thousands of dollars each year in order to help the poor……about 3-5% of billing.  In some years it operates at a loss.  

      Catholic Hospitals and many other non-profits were originally founded to meet the needs of the poor and continue to do so.  A non-profit hospital cannot refuse to treat a patient who shows up at the emergency room.  Even a for-profit hospital must at least stabilize an emergency case before sending the indigent patient to a community hospital.  Some states as Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana, including the large Charity Hospital of New Orleans provide medical care for the poor.  In addition universities with medical schools as Ohio State, University of Pittsburgh, Louisiana State University, etc. do considerable charity work or charge on a sliding scale.  See
www.mffh.org/mm/files/hospitalchairtycareissuebrief.pdf - report of the Missouri Foundation for Health on the history and current status of charity hospitals.
  
http://www.stvincentcharity.com/ - St. Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland.

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/01/17/hospitals-charity-care-up-as-are-surpluses.html shows that hospitals of Central Ohio have provided $586 million in charitable care while their surpluses have increased.  Some are criticized on not doing enough.


www.dochs.org - The Daughters of Charity Health System (DCHS) is a regional health care system of six hospitals spanning the California coast from the San Francisco Bay Area.


https://www.oag.state.tx.us/AG_Publications/pdfs/access.pdf - a document of the attorney general of Texas. 
 
    There are many hospitals that provide for the uninsured poor, but this has to be expanded.  There is certainly a need for Charity Hospitals that have charity as their primary mission.  These could be run by religious orders, volunteers, the surrounding community, and state governments with some federal subsidies. They could charge on a sliding scale according to family income.  It would be ideal for every county or group of rural counties to have at least one charity hospital with satellite neighborhood clinics.


      If our society insists upon having socialized medicine, which Obamacare is to a large extent with all of its regulations and insurance financed by Medicaid, then we would have to consider adopting an adaptation of the European/Canadian model.  It would be simpler and cheaper since it would eliminate much of the need for health care insurance and all of the bureaucratic costs and profits that go with it as middlemen.  True, the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services would expand.
   
    In Poland, for example, every employer pays a certain percentage of every worker’s wage to the Government, somewhat similar to our own Social Security/Medicare tax.  Patients are taken care of free in Government facilities by doctors, nurses, etc. employed by the Government with much lower wages than here.  Doctors are allotted so much time per patient and there is a waiting list for elected surgery.  The family often pays bribes for better care.  If a patient desires better care, more individual attention, and quicker surgery at a higher price, s/he may go to the private sector in the two tier system.  Doctors frequently moonlight with private practices on the side while employed by government hospitals and clinics.  Since the Government subsidizes medical education, doctors are required to work so many years in the public hospitals at lower wages.  Do we want this or some adaptation of it as in the military in lieu of Obama Care?

       What will happen when Obamacare is fully implemented?  There will be certainly many unintended negative consequences.  Will charity hospitals and free clinics disappear?  Will the health care charity infrastructure be diminished or even destroyed?  That would be a terrible loss to the United States Economy!  And the spiritual benefits will go down the drain along with the energy and resources that a free people of good will in dynamic churches and communities have mobilized in the past.  According to a story in the Boston Globe reported in the Wall Street Journal, Capital Management firms in anticipation of Obamacare are starting to buy up non-profit hospitals to convert them into for-profit cash cows.  See http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/2010/03/25/obamacare-are-charity-hospitals-now-a-hot-commodity/.

    We must anticipate the unanticipated consequences of Obamacare.  How will it affect the economy?  Will there be cuts in social security and medicare benefits to pay for it?  Will doctors rebel against it and leave the profession, thus creating a shortage?  One lamented: “Doctors will quit being doctors” because of its new demands.  The Obama Administration is taking on the Catholic Church regarding the Health Care mandate which is against Church teaching.  Many Catholic hospitals could close rather than conform or pay milliones in fines.  Will the proposed cure to our health care problems be worse than the original illness?
   
       I have tried to show here some alternatives to Obamacare that currently exist and could be built upon and other ideas in a brainstorming mode.  Perhaps they could be combined in some creative way as a first step to a solution.  This article shows that there is a lot of good in what we already have.  Shall we simply throw out the baby with the dishwater?  Or shall we build upon, reform, and improve upon what we have?  What will be the long run consequences of Obamacare upon our national economy?  The American people must become more informed about where our country is headed and decide our general course of action before we reach the point of no return and drive our country into chaos and financial collapse.