Health: Health is the degree of wellness and overall condition of an individual’s physical and mental state. Typically, concern for one’s health is minimal when young. Yet, as we age, health related problems facilitate an increased concern for one’s health and the habits that sometimes influence the quality of health we experience later in life. Life as it relates to health is subject to three conditions or setbacks: your genetic makeup, physical injury or trauma, and, finally, disease and the subsequent use of internal or remedial medicine. The first of these is highly controversial because it involves manipulation before life begins, assuming we enter this world with good or average genes. The second begins with our ability to avoid injury and ends as a measure of how well we repair our minds and bodies. The third, if not genetically steered in a negative direction, is simply a matter of what enters our bodies; for example, making the conscious decision to inhale smoke despite our knowledge of its cancerous effects. Here it is important to differentiate and point out that we are not only affected by what we take in with our mouths but also what we absorb via our other senses. For example, witnessing violence with our eyes can disease our brain by desensitizing us to violent acts. Likewise, listening to abrasive or subversive speech can cause disease by instilling us with negative values. Have you considered what role habits and addictions play in the regular function of your body? What decisions can you make today to improve your health now and in the long run? Do you consider exercise as being taken into the body? How does stress enter the body and what effect does it have? Can you conceive a total picture of what is possible in the broadest sense to take into your body and affect your health? Are you a healthy person? Is there a health issue requiring attention that you have been avoiding because of fear? If you want to improve your health, do your habits support achieving this objective? Is maintaining your good health a priority in your life? When you think about the concept of health, do you focus on physical health rather than on the mind, body and spirit of total health?
With the Republican win of the Senate during this year’s midterms, the Health Care Reform Act is once again a topic of contention in Congress. According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Sen. Mitch McConnell was quoted to say “It is no secret that every one of my members thinks that Obamacare was a huge legislative mistake … If I had the ability … obviously, I’d get rid of it.” Although, there is little hope of repeal with President Obama ready to veto any legislative attempt, McConnell suggested “the law’s tax on medical devices, its requirement that big employers provide insurance to all workers clocking 30 hours a week or more or pay a fee, and its mandate that most Americans carry insurance or pay a fee,” would be aspects of the law this Republican led Congress would try to change. Of course, the WSJ reports that “Senate Republicans said Wednesday they would still hold a vote to repeal the law to show voters they support eliminating it.”
As we discussed a few months ago, the quality of health care that our military veterans are receiving is still being questioned because of delays in care that were linked to multiple patient deaths. According to the secretary of Veterans Affairs, Robert McDonald, changing the culture of VA hospitals is paramount to improving the system. McDonald claimed “we know that the trust has been compromised. And we know that we’re going to have to earn that back — one veteran at a time.” The New York Times reports that “the agency has extended clinic hours at facilities across the nation, sent out mobile units to constituents in places like Phoenix, and hired more doctors and nurses, all in an effort to accelerate patient access to care.” Interestingly, McDonald offered his cell number to the public in July, which promptly brought a few hundred calls from frustrated and concerned veterans. Six months later, McDonald reported that he gets “maybe five to 10 a day,” which seems to show that personally fielding those calls might have fostered some trust and sense of accountability.
Finally, Ebola and the potential for outbreak and global pandemic places a heavy burden on health care professionals everywhere, but especially on the doctors, nurses and other health care professionals helping Ebola patients at ground zero in Africa. Dr. Gino Strada, who has been helping the infected in Sierra Leone, related the tension of health care workers to Newsweek, when he confided, “you remain anxious all day. You can relax a bit when you get home. Then in the morning it starts again.” According to Newsweek, the contagion “has spread through villages and cities, killing 5,000 and infecting over 13,000.” Additionally, Newsweek reports that 500+ health care professionals have been infected and over half have died. Ensuring that health care workers stay healthy has become a priority. So much so that the US Department of Defense has spent a portion of the $30 million Ebola response money to build a 25 bed hospital to specifically treat health care workers. Certainly, health care workers fighting the spread of this disease and comforting the already infected are worth the expense. As President Obama emphasized, those who are willing to aid the sick and curb the spread of the disease are, indeed, “heroes.”