Tag Archives: Healthcare

Measles and Autism and Tb, Oh My.

So here I sat in front of my monitor reading through this month’s edition of Scientific American when I spied a link: “Measles is back, and it’s because your kids aren’t vaccinated.” I groaned. Measles was declared eliminated in the U.S. back in 2000. Then again…so was Tuberculosis, and Tb is now believed to be responsible for 25% of avoidable deaths for young adults world wide. While HIV related cases of Tb are at the forefront of the resurgence, the instances of the disease in children in the first world, just as with the resurgence of measles, comes down to one thing: parents are not immunizing their children. Of the 131 cases documented in children from January to July of 2008, 91% were not vaccinated. This presents a frightening trend, and it is this nurse’s opinion that the fear and anti-science and anti-vaccine rhetoric surrounding the increase in Autism cases is a key contributing factor.

It was believed (and still is by some knee jerk reactionaries) that Thimerosal was responsible for the rise in diagnosed cases of Autism, but Thimerosal has not been used in vaccines since 1999. Yet Autism is still rising; in my home state of California, it has jumped 700% since 1996. 3000 new cases were reported in 2006. Most of the younger siblings of autistic children have not been vaccinated because of the misinformation regarding childhood disease vaccines.

People, I don’t know how to be any clearer about this: GET YOUR KIDS THEIR SHOTS! No, they will NOT develop Autism. No, it is NOT a scam by the marketing departments of the AMA and the eeeevil drug companies. No, it will NOT make them stronger if they have to develop their own immunity to the disease. The vaccine IS their immunity to the disease. What it will do is make them vulnerable to a disease that may very well kill them. As a parent, your primary responsibility is to protect your child. Letting them get diseases like Tb and measles when they’re easily preventable is about as far from protecting them as it’s possible to get.

First: Do No Harm. Unless You Disagree With Their Morals.

On December 19th, the Bush administration very quietly approved provisions to put the final nail in the coffin of American healthcare. Effective Jan 19th (one day, you will note, before President-elect Obama takes office), all entities tied to healthcare…including insurance companies…will be able to deny care or coverage for any service they feel disagrees with their moral code.

As a woman, I am furious. How dare you, Mr. Bush, tell any insurance company or doctor that I may not obtain reproductive health without risking my life? As a bisexual woman, I am seething. How dare you open the door to anyone to question me on my sexuality and deny me care because they don’t approve? As a nurse, I am so livid I am nearly speechless. We do not question the morality of our patients. It is not for us to judge. If someone comes to me because they are injured, in pain, or just have questions, I am here to do my best to help them. Their personal life is not for ME to judge. How dare ANYONE decide such a thing?

So now I can deny care based on my moral outrage? Fine. How would it be, then, if I, as an atheist, were to refuse care to fundamentalist Christians because I morally disagree with their warped perceptions of reality? How would it be if I were to refuse care to some redneck idiot who had broken his neck on his motorcycle because I’m morally opposed to treating morons who refuse to wear a helmet? How would it be were I to refuse to assist in delivering a baby because I think the world is overpopulated enough and it’s against my ethics?

Mr. Bush, you do not know the damage you have done. You think you are merely putting down rights for gays and women. I assure you, sir, you have no idea the death blow you have dealt my profession. I am saddened. But more, I am enraged that anyone would dare do such a thing as risk the lives of the people of this country all so that a few backward, self righteous, judgmental overbearing jerks can look down their noses and deny care to people they consider inferior to themselves.

I am sickened by the very thought of what this will do to a profession of which I have always been proud to be a part. There are simply no words for how disgusted I am by this ruling.

Third infant dead, more than 6,000 sickened

In what has now become a familiar refrain, yet another product from China has caused the death of a third infant and thousands of others to become seriously ill, some to the point of kidney failure.

The grim news Wednesday was coupled with an announcement that China’s biggest dairy is one of three companies that have joined the massive recall of infant milk formula after the chemical melamine was found by health officials, the Associated Press reports.

This is the second major scandal in recent years involving Chinese-made baby formula, theAPreported. In 2004, phony formula that contained no nutrients was linked to more than 200 cases of malnutrition and at least 12 infant deaths.

We need look no further than this for the health of our “global economy.” In the US corporations’ mad rush to send jobs overseas to increase the bottom line and cut the hugest cost…American wages….something was overlooked. The quality and standards we as a nation have become accustomed to expect. How much longer should this failed experiment be allowed to continue before we accept that a trickle down economy does not work? How many of our children have to die before it’s recognized that the “best interests” corporations have in mind is their own bottom line? Not the health of their workers or the safety of the products, or the best interest of the consumer. Their bottom line. Thousands are laid off with no prospects while CEO’s and top execs are given golden parachutes from the retirement savings of their employees. Jobs are sent overseas with no new markets created to fill the void. And the middle class continues to shrink, with the nation’s poor expanding.

It is time to admit that Ayn Rand’s ideas were no more than that. Ideas. And idealistic, unworkable ones at that. It isn’t a case of finding the right people for the job, because the market will NOT correct itself. Rapacious greed will win out over better human nature every time.

I believe a global economy can work. But if it is going to work, there HAS to be oversight. There has to be restraint. And there has to be enforced regulation. People, infants, have already died. What more do we need to prove that?

The White House’s New Definition of (female) Contraceptives

I was all set for a Bush lame duck presidency. After all, I figured, it isn’t as if he’s done a whole lot in the past 8 years other than go to war and procrastinate. He’ll likely take a few more vacations in Crawford, do a world tour, attempt to cure the woes in the middle east….that kind of thing. But no. Once again, we are treated to the kind of stupid that usually requires years of chemically treating one’s brain to attain.

In a bitch slap to all women, the White House has defined (female) contraceptives as “abortion,” and stated that any and all community clinics who refuse to abide by this trogloditic rule will lose DHHS funding. Further, pharmacists who oppose contraception for religious reasons will be within legal rights to refuse to dispense birth control to women.

Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and my boss stated:

“Women’s ability to manage their own health care is at risk of being compromised by politics and ideology,”

I adore Cecile’s understatement. Not only will this affect women’s ability to determine their reproductive rights, it will severely limit community clinics to provide other services. Whether anti-choice activists wish to acknowledge it or not, abortion is a mere 2% of Planned Parenthood’s business. They also provide much needed low cost healthcare to children, such as the federal VFC (vaccines for children) program and CHDP (children’s health and disability program). Because of the high cost of health care, most physicians do not accept these programs, and it is left to community clinics such as PP to make sure these low income families receive the care they need. So the bill will essentially make it more difficult for the poor to access quality care.

It is doubtful that a Democratic congress would consider passing such a shortsighted, brutal law, but I urge you all to contact your congress critter immediately to ask them to vote no. Make no mistake: this is a stab at our rights as women and thinking, self aware human beings. We will not go back to a time in which we passively allowed others to decide our lives and fates.

Teenage pregnancy pact

My daughter and I were watching the news this morning while I got ready for work, which we usually do. A story came up about a group of girls in Massachusetts who entered into a pact to all get pregnant and have their babies together so they could raise them together.

Consider my ghast flabbered. I can’t begin to imagine the reasoning behind this. It takes group think to a level that’s frightening. Most of these girls have absolutely no idea how to care for another human being, and now they’re committing to be responsible for one for the rest of their lives to people they probably won’t even be friends with in ten years.

We live in a society that is currently discouraging any kind of sexual education for young people beyond “don’t do it.” How anyone could expect such a position to work when it’s fairly well established that adolescent humans are basically hormones with feet is beyond me. They don’t need haranguing or threats or scare tactics. They need information and they need it now. Parenthood is not the cakewalk these young girls think it is. It is not easy, it is not glamorous, it is not a fun group activity. It is late nights, early mornings, doctors appointments, and never ending worry (that I would not trade for anything on this earth).

This is a hot button issue for me, so please forgive my soap box. However. We cannot expect our children to act responsibly if we don’t give them the information they need to do so. We must get over our fear of our teenagers having sex long enough to talk to them about it. Whether we want them to or not…at some point, they are going to have sex. Don’t you want them to be safe? To not catch a disease? To see some of their dreams fulfilled before they are irrevocably tied into parenthood? Whether you talk with them or not…they are going to have sex. Help them. Make them as prepared as you possibly can.

I work in reproductive health. I see teenagers with all manner of misconceptions about pregnancy and sex. They get those misconceptions from their peers…because their parents aren’t talking.

This issue goes beyond simple lack of education.