Saints safety Steve Gleason was surprised this morning with a custom-made, two-seater recumbent bike — and within a few minutes of seeing it in his driveway, he suited up for a ride in Lakeview. Gleason, who battles ALS (or Lou Gehrig's disease), will plan to train on the bike to ride in the Ride 2 Recovery Gulf Coast Challenge, a more than 400 mile ride that begins in New Orleans and ends in Florida. The event, presented by United Healthcare, is March 2-9 and is one of several annual "challenge" rides to benefit wounded veterans.
The "Big Easy" bike, designed and donated by Ride 2 Recovery, can be pedaled by one or two people, allowing Gleason to take breaks. It has an independent pedaling system, adjustable seating and straps, and an elevated seat. Before he sped off with Ride 2 Recovery's John Wordin, Gleason said he battles ALS with "perseverance and creativity." Then with a smile: "Let's go."
Gleason's wife Michel and his family kept the bike a secret and said the bike was "the best Christmas present," and the couple's son Rivers cheered him with pom poms borrowed from the Saintsations cheerleaders.
Over time, it offered refuge to not only abandoned babies but also to individuals afflicted with terminal illnesses. That it was originally named the New Orleans Home for the Incurables was no accident, even if the sound of it today causes health professionals to cringe.
The home initially had an all-female board — 29 years before women secured the right to vote — and their leadership defined the New Orleans Home for the Incurables as a private, nonprofit, nondenominational facility of last resort. It remained that until 1978, when the state of Louisiana bought the home.
The state quickly dropped the “incurables” label and renamed it the New Orleans Home and Rehabilitation Center. The institution’s honeymoon with the state didn’t last long. Practically every governor since has tried to sell off or transfer the home. The task of pushing back fell upon former Sen. John Hainkel, in whose district the home sits. Thanks to Hainkel’s longevity in the Legislature, he kept the center open during his lifetime and protected it from deep budget cuts.
When Hainkel died in 2005, state lawmakers renamed the facility the John J. Hainkel Jr. Home and Rehab Center, known more commonly around the city as Hainkel Home. At the same time, Bobby Jindal, then a congressman from Jefferson Parish, also convinced Congress to rename the Hammond post office in Hainkel's honor.
Today, the Hainkel Home is one of the few remaining options for Medicaid and Veterans Administration patients in the New Orleans area — but it has no champion with Hainkel’s legendary clout. Jindal, now in his second term as Louisiana’s governor, wants to shutter the facility.
The Committee to Save Southeast Louisiana Hospital held another meeting last night at the Mandeville Community Center. At the meeting, State Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville, said he supports Rep. Jerome "Dee" Richard's call for a special legislative session on Gov. Jindal's recent cuts to health care. (C.B. Forgotston today reports that the proposal is coming closer to being approved.)
(See previous: The Closure of Southeast Louisiana Hospital)
One of the meeting attendees repeatedly questioned Donahue's history, asking whether he had, in the past, voted for the closure or privatization of state-run mental health facilities. Donahue said he hadn't.
Which brings us to SB 295, a bill sponsored by Donahue during the 2010 legislative session. Here's the summary:
HEALTH/HOSPITALS DEPT. Authorizes the Department of Health and Hospitals to contract for the operation of state inpatient mental health facilities and certain services provided at such facilities.
(More after the jump)
(Note: This is an extended version of a section we cut from an early draft of this week's cover story on Southeast Louisiana Hospital.)
I found the choice of a quote from Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince a little strange given the context. Dr. Frank Opelka, head of the LSU Health Care Services Division, was presenting a plan to cut $152 million from seven LSU hospitals to the LSU Board of Supervisors. This is a setting that, one would think, demands extreme trust and sensitivity.
And yet, he decided to include in his accompanying PowerPoint a quote from The Prince.
Here's Opelka's quote:
"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things"
(More after the jump)
City of New Orleans press release:
PRECAUTIONARY BOIL WATER ADVISORY ISSUED FOR THE EAST BANK OF ORLEANS PARISH
NEW ORLEANS, LA—Sewerage and Water Board and the state Department of Health and Hospital officials are warning the residents of the East Bank of Orleans Parish not to drink, make ice from, brush teeth, bathe or shower, prepare or rinse food with tap water unless it has been properly disinfected until further notice.
A momentary loss of 25-cycle power at about 8:30 a.m. at the main water plant brought water pressure to low levels throughout the eastbank of the city. Out of an abundance of caution, residents are advised that the quality of the water may be unsafe due to bacteriological contamination. Therefore, the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans in conjunction with DHH has issued a BOIL WATER ADVISORY effective Monday, October 8, 2012 for the entire east bank of the City of New Orleans. Residents may expect the boil advisory to continue until water quality testing has proven the safety of the water. This does not affect Algiers.
State officials are cautioning users of the water system to disinfect their water before consuming it or using it for food preparation by the following means:
Boil water for one full minute in a clean container. The one-minute starts after the water has been brought to a rolling boil. If there is a flat taste, it can be eliminated by shaking the water in a bottle or pouring it from one container to another.
This boil water advisory will remain in effect until further notice.
Since it began its data collection in March 2011, the Gulf Long-Term Follow-Up (GuLF) study — a $25 million, 10-year project under the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — has gathered more than 29,000 participants to study the health implications of handling (and exposure to) oil, dispersants and other chemicals in the cleanup operations following the BP oil disaster.
The study closes its enrollment period at the end of year, on Dec. 31, and cleanup workers, rig workers, or people who received cleanup training or were assigned to the Gulf following the disaster are all encouraged to participate to help "get a full picture of what happened during oil spill and understand how it affected people’s health," said Dr. Dale Sandler, who heads the study. It aims to recruit 55,000 participants, but Sandler said, "If we can get to 35,000 or 40,000, we’d be a tremendous success." The study already is the largest of its kind.
As Sandler told Gambit last year as the study was underway, the scope of the project could include "looking at respiratory effects and nonspecific complaints — dizziness and headaches," but it's also interested in the long-term issues like chronic diseases and cancer. During a Tuesday phone conference, Sandler said she hopes the findings "will provide information on how oil spills impact physical and mental health," including depression, stress and anxiety.
The study begins with a telephone interview with detailed questions about work performed during the disaster, health at that time and health now, and lifestyle factors and other job history. The call is followed by a home visit from a trained medical examiner, who takes biological samples and tests lung function. Participants are given a $50 gift card. If necessary, participants are referred to a free or low-cost physician.
So far, Sandler said, 450 people were told to go see a doctor for elevated blood pressure or for poor lung function. Most participants with referrals are sent to a general medical practice, an urgent care facility or community clinic. Some have had consultations with practices that specialize in dealing with chemical exposure, she said.
Long before the lexicon of local foods was commonplace, the international movement called Slow Food was encouraging people to reconnect with authentic regional flavors and food traditions. Launched in Italy in 1986, it came in response to the rise of fast food and industrialized food in Europe and it grew with chapters across the world.
New Orleans food maven (and now local radio personality) Poppy Tooker started the first local chapter of Slow Food back in 1999. That branch was disbanded two years ago amid turmoil over the direction and goals of Slow Food USA, the national organization run from Brooklyn. But now a new chapter of Slow Food is forming in New Orleans, and a launch party is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 1, at Rock ‘n’ Bowl.
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is having its Life@50+ convention in New Orleans through tomorrow. That voting bloc is catnip to any political candidate, particularly during a presidential election. President Barack Obama spoke to the group by satellite, but GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who showed up in person, found it a tough room when he started talking about "Obamacare" (the Affordable Care Act) and Medicare:
According to NBC News, "Throughout the Wisconsin congressman’s nearly 30-minute speech, he rarely received applause and instead heard people yell “You lie!” and “No!” to many of his claims of what he and his running mate, Mitt Romney, would do if they make it to the White House."
Earlier this year, Ryan explained to Newsmax "I think the AARP is frightening seniors," and his opinion that "Medicare is going bankrupt":
Below the jump: Ryan's prepared-for-delivery remarks to the AARP convention (which may have changed at the podium):
But still firmly in Akin's corner is Family Research Council (FRC) president and former Louisiana Rep. Tony Perkins, who expressed support for Akin today in an appearance with FRC Action PAC president Connie Mackey:
Perkins called the controversy an attempt to divert attention from McCaskill. "Claire McCaskill has been supportive of Planned Parenthood, an organization that has been under investigation for criminal activity," Perkins said.
"For other Republicans, I have not seen Scott Brown’s statement, but he should be careful because based on some of his statements there may be some call for him to get out of his race," Perkins added.
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