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Posts Tagged ‘health’

Slipping Through the Safety Net

January 6, 2013 1 comment

Slipping Through the Safety Net

Plastic bag in hand, ready for any bilious torrent produced by the next round of respiratory fits. I couldn’t tell if her moaning was due to the racking cough which shook the two chairs she had pushed together to make a bed or to the moonshoe protecting her tibia from trauma. Please don’t puke, please don’t put me in a situation where I’ll have to decide whether it’s more polite to pretend I haven’t noticed or to find some way of fetching water. The self-service malady station offered tissues and barf bags and hygienic hand gel but no cups. I should spray my neighbor down with the provided antiseptic.

I never would have taken the seat, alone against the wall of an examination room, had I know the woman was retching. She waited for the raging drunk falling out of a wheelchair to lurch after a pregnant woman and her young daughter, leaving the sanitation kiosk unguarded. The drunk’s sudden departure alarmed reception and a stray nurse who debated going after him until they became distracted by the viscous black fluid he had left to seep through his former seat and onto the floor. A call to maintenance was interrupted by a girl in pajamas who was angry at having her pathetic groans ignored. Yes, you’ll be seen after the gaping head wound who swears he’s not drunk but can’t remember his name, the guy with chest pains, the woman who can’t walk on her own, the five or six people who sleep here when it’s too cold and wet on the street.

These people aren’t sick, the triage doctor told me after I waved away her apologies for the wait, they just think they are. Her bitterness clashed with the spunky hair and Chuck Taylors, and with her adoration of the little girl who had hit the panic button. A SWAT team burst into the lobby all body armor and light weaponry, peering through windows and signaling each other across the room. Little girls are cuties. I’m tired of telling the staff I’m not a junkie. Read more…

An Inadequate History of Canadian Healthcare

July 13, 2009 6 comments

I Got The Hook-Up

Rumors are swirling throughout the capital that President Obama will attempt to post-pone Senate’s August recess until legislation on national health care is hammered out. Medical associations are lobbying against any attempts to nationalize coverage and former PR flak cum Center for Media and Democracy pundit Wendell Potter is following the medical industry’s attempts to subvert change. Weak-willed representatives are hoping to establish a non-profit insurance company that will operate alongside private companies while millions of Americans continue to live their lives without any financial protection should they suddenly be stricken by disease or an errant bus.

A couple of years back my parents’ neighbor gave me a copy of Uncle John’s Curiously Compelling Bathroom Reader, a collection of short essays designed to occupy one’s quieter moments. Recently I read an entry on Thomas Douglas, the former Premier of Saskatchewan credited with creating Canada’s medicare system. Although there are many critics of what they’ve got going on up north, particularly in terms of waiting for procedures and tests, the country does manage to spend less while providing some form of basic coverage for every citizen of their country. How did it begin? Read more…

School McLunches

February 27, 2009 2 comments

An important cornerstone of Barack Obama’s ascension to the White House was his assertion that transparency would finally come to Washington. His recent speech on the federal budget has been championed by many critics of government for exposing the methods which have hidden costs from the American people by means of accounting sleight of hand. The reality of the budget situation is, as one could imagine, quite bleak but better to know what you’re facing before it smashes into your face.

How far will Obama’s call for open government go? The National School Lunch Program, which subsidizes lunch for under-privileged kids, is undergoing restructuring. Even the NSLP admits that the program is far from perfect– their latest data suggests that their meals fail the USDA’s standards when it comes to total and saturated fats– but many critics have been taking aim at the entire program’s structure. The subsidies program, which reimburses school districts based on the amount of meals served and at what cost, also offers a selection of vittles for schools to use in their menu planning. These commodities, due to economic and logistical pressures, tend towards the frozen, the preserved and the less than ideal. But struggling schools have to feed the children of struggling families. In a recent Op-Ed piece in the New York Times, yuppie demi-god Alice Waters envisions an integrated approach to feeding children healthy meals, providing better nutritional balance and eliminating processed foods from the menu.

Who decides what foods are made available to the NSLP? A consortium of scientists and nutritionists, of course, and such a meeting was recently held at the National Academy of Sciences. Presentations were made discussing nutritional needs, the merits of this vs. that, and a crowded auditorium took notes. Reporters? No, the only reporters on the scene were from American News Project. Educators? District Supervisors? Agriculturalists? Nope. The audience was thick with representatives from major food industry groups, companies and lobbying firms. These flies on the wall, in plain view of everyone, were researching what’s being discussed so that they can better grease the wheels of Washington and secure contracts with the government to continue selling crap to feed the children.

Is anyone even shocked that PepsiCo and The Pork Board are set to weigh in on what passes for school lunches? It’s a huge industry with a captive client and you can be sure that everyone from Monsanto to Hershey’s is looking through past contributions to see who owes them a favor. Will it be another year of back door dealings, will it be another case of money winning out over people? We shall see, and you can see:


Merci beaucoup Pete pour l’article de Mother Jones. There’s also a conversation with The Omnivores Dilemma author Michael Pollan which raises disparate but related concepts of food policy that I would have liked to highlight but had to let go of in order to be concise and not loose control of my typing. The picture of school children developing diabetes is by Owen Franken and stolen from the Amber Waves article cited above.