Editorial roundup

Flu is serious business; get your shot

The Marietta Times, Sept. 30

What is the most serious respiratory illness threat facing Americans today? If you answered “e-cigarettes” or “vaping,” we commend you for keeping up with current events.

But that is the wrong answer. The correct one is influenza.

During the 2017-18 season, nearly 15 percent of Americans contracted influenza, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and approximately 79,400 people died of the illness. Though most of those deaths were older individuals, children are also at risk. In the 2017-18 season, 183 of the reported flu deaths were children.

There is no way to guarantee you will not get the flu — but there is a safeguard that will reduce the likelihood of that dramatically or give you a better chance of fighting it off. It is getting an annual flu shot.

With colder weather and the flu season just around the corner, many health care outlets already have the flu vaccine.

Most health insurance companies cover flu shots. They can be obtained from doctors’ offices, hospitals, many pharmacies and at many health departments — which often can make provisions for those not covered by insurance.

Consider this: You may think you can get through a bout with the flu just fine — but what if you transmit it to someone more at risk? Think about getting the shot, and soon.

Online: https://bit.ly/2nYyqZu

U.S. Senate to vets: Drop dead

The Sandusky Register, Sept. 24

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., takes questions during his town hall meeting at Kennesaw State University on Aug. 14, 2017, in Kennesaw, Ga.

There are times, we believe, when the truth sits in plain view but we cannot see it, and fallacies of patriotism are accepted and not questioned. Veterans suffering from life-threatening and terminal illnesses caused by exposure to toxic smoke from burn pits maintained by the U.S. military should get fair and compassionate care and comfort from the nation they served.

We all agree to that. Or do we?

We hear the refrain so often, with a flag waving in the background, “Thank a veteran. Thank a veteran.” We hear it from celebrities and politicians, to car dealers, from neighbors and friends. “Thank a veteran.”

It’s just not true to our actions.

For nearly two decades we sent members of our all-volunteer army into harm’s way, in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the promise their nation would stand behind them, now and forever. They served with dignity, with honor, even though, in hindsight, our involvement in those wars, and how we became involved, were questionable at the start, and are still questionable to this day.

There was no WMD, the cause pushed for entering the Iraq War 18 years ago. And, most Americans do not understand why went in, and why we are still on the ground in Afghanistan, an obvious failure in U.S. leadership to provide coherent explanations for our involvement, for two decades.

The very use of football field-sized burn pits to burn waste of all kinds around the clock is a statement against the interest of the soldiers who served at nearby bases and were forced to breath that smoke at work and in the barracks, 24/7. The evidence it was dangerous was known when the match was lit; it’s always been known. The failure to attend to the needs of these returning veterans, many of whom have died from diseases caused by exposure to the never ending streams of toxic smoke from more than 250 burn pits maintained by the U.S. military near combat bases in Iraq and Afghanistan is another declaration against the belief that we care as a nation for our veterans after they return from service.

The failure of the U.S. military, the Veterans Administration, the president and Congress to address the dire medical needs of this growing group of veterans is a statement to them and to their families: Go away and die.

For several years now, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, has lobbied fellow members of the Senate Veterans Affairs’ Committee to hold hearings about burn pit illnesses and allow veterans and their families to testify. We appreciate the Ohio senator’s advocacy on their behalf, and his promise to tell their stories and submit written testimonies from them to the committee.

But U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson’s decided to exclude veterans from testifying, and, in our view that’s his way of telling them to “drop dead.” As chairman of the Senate committee, Isakson, R-Georgia, has the power to let them testify, and the power to deny their voices from being heard. Isakson, who has delayed these hearing for years, has had plenty of time to formulate an explanation for barring veterans, but he’s refused to address the question.

Many of the veterans suffering illnesses from exposure believe the military and the VA want to avoid tracking, categorizing or properly treating their illnesses due to the huge financial liability it would create to render such services. Some believe the military and the VA can “wait them out,” meaning let them die with that financial liability dying with them.

Some times the truth sits in plain sight, right behind or next to false platitudes of respect and gratitude. With Isakson’s decision to bar veterans from next week’s hearing, this would seem to be one of those times.

Online: https://bit.ly/2nXv1u0

Any Clinic, Mercy deal must go beyond ‘care’

The Canton Repository, Sept. 29

“Every life deserves world-class care.”

If you’ve watched broadcasts from a Cleveland television station or listened to local radio, you’ve probably heard that slogan in an advertisement.

It is, of course, the mantra of Cleveland Clinic.

And why not?

Year in and year out, “The Clinic” has been rated among the world’s best hospitals overall and in numerous specialties. In the recently released U.S. News & World Report’s “2019-20 Best Hospitals,” it was named a top U.S. hospital and earned the highest ranking in Ohio. It’s heart program has been ranked No. 1 in the nation since 1995, and five specialties are ranked in the top five this year.

Perhaps soon Cleveland Clinic will establish a presence in Stark County, something it has desired for some time. Information discussed Friday, as the Clinic and the Sisters of Charity Health System announced a letter of intent to explore Mercy Medical Center joining the Clinic family, indicated talks started roughly two years ago.

A location in Canton would fill a coverage gap between Clinic-affiliated facilities in Summit County — Akron General Medical Center, including a Health and Wellness Center in Green among the sites — and Union Hospital in Dover, where the Clinic became a partner about 18 months ago.

It has been apparent for some time Mercy needs a partner to keep pace in the ever-changing and competitive business of health care delivery. Only two miles away, Aultman Hospital has been strengthening its position in the field, with acquisitions and partnerships to keep itself not only viable but also a leader and innovator in several areas.

Assuming the Clinic and Sisters of Charity can work out details of maintaining the medical center’s Catholic identity and other finer points of a complex agreement, more “world-class care” will be available to patients in our area.

While that can bring great benefits to potential patients, we hope it doesn’t come at the cost of losing a world-class neighbor, a world-class employer and a world-class contributor to the entire community.

Because that is what Mercy Medical Center and its predecessors have been in Canton for well over 100 years: world-class partners.

Almost exactly 111 years ago, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine opened the doors to Mercy Hospital in downtown Canton. Only five months earlier, Rose Klorer had purchased the home of former President William McKinley on Market Avenue N. Over the next several years, the hospital grew and added care units, including a pediatric unit and later the first psychiatric unit in Ohio.

In 1950, The Timken Foundation of Canton gave Mercy more than 30 acres of land where the medical center still sits, several expansions and name changes later, at its convenient location along Interstate 77. While the Timken name hasn’t been associated with the hospital in a formal way for nearly a quarter-century, many in the community still remember it that way and can recall the family values and faith-based care patients could count on — and still can — at Mercy.

That’s what we can’t lose.

Cleveland Clinic says its six “fundamental values” are quality, innovation, teamwork, service, integrity and compassion. We’ve certainly seen the Sisters of Charity carrying out those same values in our community for decades, so perhaps the two cultures will prove to be a world-class fit.

Online: https://bit.ly/2nUF96S

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