Monday, April 27, 2009


I certainly don't want to be a fear-monger, although some would place me in that category. The CDC has declared a national health emergency with the outbreak of swine-flu.

How does that impact us? Think of all the cases of flu, nausea, headaches, tiredness, and the like that filter through the ER. Think about the percentage of people that don't wash their hands, don't cover their mouth when they cough, and live in close quarters. Think of the high percentage of patients that have respiratory problems.

For our own little slice of heaven, the ER waiting areas, we might want to issue masks. Certainly to keep patients from contracting the flu from others, but also to keep the staff a little safer. I feel a run on barrier masks with face shields is in our future.

The one hundred-plus deaths attributed to the outbreak are mostly in poorer areas: Malnourishment, compromised immune systems, elderly, those with respiratory problems, and the very young would be thought to be susceptible. However, we are seeing a NY prep school closed, and cases in at least five states, with more to follow. The deaths in Mexico were comprised of patients that were atypically age-grouped (adolescents and adults).

During the avian flu scare not so long ago, it was anticipated that a pandemic of that nature would take less than six months to make its way through all but the most isolated regions of the world. I don't know how much was based on the vector including birds, but probably it was inconsequential. How many people end up with hystoplasmosis? (My little nagging voice is making an issue out of the report that the virus is a combination of human, avian, an pig viruses. It keeps focusing on the avian.)

It would seem that the third-world countries will be hardest hit, with African nations taking a high toll based on the HIV percentages. Likewise Thailand for the same reason. Any high-density, poor, populations. Israel has reported patients, can you imagine what this could do in Gaza?

So-o-o, handwashing, cover your mouth, and limit the handshakes, hugs, and kisses. They can wait until this is over.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


If you're a blogger, that is one with a blog, you know that there is a certain amount of pressure to monetize your blog with ads. I've resisted, since this isn't about the money--but had a thought on the matter.

If I do it, it will be only at the side panel, not in the body. The proceeds are either going to legal defense if the lawsuit continues, or to a local charity, should it not. With the recession, they can use all the help they can get. In any case, the funds should be held in abeyance until the situation plays out.

I'm going to put up a survey, letting the readers contribute, and we'll see what shakes loose. So think about it.

It might not be possible to do it anonymously, but it's worth a try. If I can, I will, if I can't I won't.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bailout--Four Degrees of Separation....4/23

Were you aware that Essent is a bennificiary of the bailout? In kind of a round-about way. Remember the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon? Well, GM is accepting a bailout, GMAC is 49% owned by GM, GMAC-RFC is totally owned by GMAC, and GMAC-RFC loaned Essent $75 Million to buy PRMC.
Since GMAC owns a bank, the degrees of separation might decrease, if it gets bailed out directly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Snooze: No News

I don't really know if precedent-setting fits, but enough people the legal blogs that reviewed the initial filing and the appeal...that whatever decision is handed down will be studied, picked apart, and judged on its merits. It has almost the same feeling as the Scopes Monkey trial as portrayed in "Inherit The Wind": The judge was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.

The solution that was given in the play/movie however, won't play in this instance. The reality equivalent was that of the appeals court when it sent the case back. They emulated the (movie) judge (a non-decision decision) in bumping it to the previous court, thereby placing the hot potato back in Judge McDowell's lap. Hence, the spotlight on McDowell.

Lawsuit still on hold
By Bill Hankins
The Paris News
Published April 9, 2009

In what could be one of the most precedent-setting lawsuits involving bloggers, First Amendment rights and Paris Regional Medical Center, movement in the case seems to be on hold.

Attorneys for Essent, the parent company of Paris Regional Medical Center in its last request to 62nd District Court Judge Scott McDowell asked McDowell to order the release of information about the blogger or bloggers, whom they say have damaged the hospital’s reputation.

Attorney James Rodgers, defending one of the unknown bloggers, said today nothing has changed in the suit since the 6th Court of Appeals ruled the hospital must first meet the threshhold of proof the statements damaged the hospital before proceeding with the case.

“They have made another run at getting information, but we do not think they have complied with the appeal court ruling, and we expect the district court will agree,” Rodgers said. “As far as I am concerned, until the judge finds Essent has complied, no movement will happen in the case, and it does not appear the hospital is taking any steps to comply.”

Rodgers said no hearings are scheduled and no decisions expected.

“No news is good news.” Rodgers said.

The 6th Court of Appeals in Texarkana ruled the hospital first must prove the statements damaged the hospital before seeking the identity of the blogger or bloggers.

The lawsuit by Essent was filed June 19, 2007, when the hospital accused 1 to 10 unknown bloggers of wrongful conduct in publishing “false and misleading” information detrimental to the hospital and asking the bloggers be silenced.

After the appeals court ruling turning the burden of proof of damage back on the hospital, attorneys for the hospital issued a statement that said: “We appreciate how carefully the court is proceeding with this important issue. We understand the rules surrounding the Internet are new and evolving and that the court wants to proceed deliberately. That said, we are very confident in our ability to meet the standards articulated by the court. We intend to pursue all available legal options.”

No movement has been made in the case since.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Is The Heart on Life-Support?....4/22

New rumor from Dallas--the Paris Heart program may be having its own problems. Specifically volume. For a hospital that is 'dedicated' as a heart center, the patient load isn't there.

When the majority of the insured patients go to Dallas or Tyler for treatment, and the remainder are high mix of self-pay/no-pay and have poor health and diet, we can see why.

What's even more confounding is that the hospital gives privleges to physicians that are referring patients right out the door to other hospitals.

Obviously, the emergency patients generally don't have a choice, but Advanced funnels a significant number of insured away.