For most of US history, our relationship with death was more intimate than it is today. Americans often died at home and remained there until burial, where they were washed, wrapped in shrouds, and laid out on boards while the family made preparations for a funeral feast and an at-home funeral. In addition to family, women known as “Layers Out of the Dead,” helped take care of the immediate tasks following a death. This homespun approach to death largely persisted until the Civil War, when embalming, hospitals and eventually funeral directors changed the way we dealt with our deceased. But now, with home funerals and even green burials slowly regaining acceptance, a new generation of “Layers Out of the Dead,” are emerging.
Why Did AIDS Ravage the U.S. More Than Any Other Developed Country?
Solving an epidemiological mystery
Solving an epidemiological mystery
In 1986, Sandra Clarke was working as a staff nurse at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Eugene, OR when a dying man asked her to sit with him. She agreed but first needed to make her rounds and the man died alone in his room before she was able to return. Troubled, and feeling that she had failed a patient, she resolved to gather volunteers to stay with those who were alone and close to death. Ms. Clarke enlisted her entire hospital for a bedside vigil system to help ensure that patients would not be alone when they died. In 2001, Sacred Heart formalized the program as No One Dies Alone (NODA) and over the last decade, it has spread to hospitals across the US. "Susan Cox Is No Longer Here" offers us a glimpse into the NODA experience in Indianapolis. [more inside]
Health Quality Partners is an experimental program that uses home visits to Medicare patients to improve health. It also cuts costs. Scheduled to shut down this week, the program has gotten a reprieve. [more inside]
Rising Demand for Long-Term Services and Supports for Elderly People (pdf, 574 kb) - "By 2050, one-fifth of the total U.S. population will be elderly (that is, 65 or older), up from 12 percent in 2000 and 8 percent in 1950. The number of people age 85 or older will grow the fastest over the next few decades, constituting 4 percent of the population by 2050, or 10 times its share in 1950. That growth in the elderly population will bring a corresponding surge in the number of elderly people with functional and cognitive limitations."
"Trusting your child with someone else is one of the hardest things that a parent has to do — and in the United States, it’s harder still, because American day care is a mess. About 8.2 million kids—about 40 percent of children under five — spend at least part of their week in the care of somebody other than a parent. Most of them are in centers, although a sizable minority attend home day cares.... In other countries, such services are subsidized and well-regulated. In the United States, despite the fact that work and family life has changed profoundly in recent decades, we lack anything resembling an actual child care system. Excellent day cares are available, of course, if you have the money to pay for them and the luck to secure a spot. But the overall quality is wildly uneven and barely monitored, and at the lower end, it’s Dickensian."
In Korea, Changes in Society and Family Dynamics Drive Rise in Elderly Suicides - "The epidemic is the counterpoint to the nation's runaway economic success, which has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries." [more inside]
About a year after her participation in the groundbreaking Comedy Central documentary series the Comedians of Comedy, Maria Bamford was on stage at the Friars Club in LA when a heckler began shouting at her. What happened after that isn’t entirely clear, other than Bamford had a breakdown, walked off stage, and disappeared. She was found three months later selling clock radios on the sidewalks of Detroit. A fellow homeless person, who was also a Comedy Central fan, recognized Bamford and eventually her parents were contacted. They brought her back home to Deluth, Minnesota and began to get her help. Maria decided to document her recovery in a series of short videos called The Maria Bamford Show, which were first posted to the TBS networks' now abandoned Super Deluxe Web site. [more inside]
Hobby Lobby, a craft store with 525 U.S. locations, has announced that it will defy a federal mandate to provide health coverage for all employees that includes emergency contraceptive coverage, and will pay a fine of $1.3 million every day. [more inside]
In 2002, Doug Monroe placed his parents in assisted living. A decade later, he's looking back at "the weighty financial and emotional costs that come with a parent's immortality": The Long Goodbye.
Over the past three weeks, Israel has experienced what may perhaps be the largest, spontaneous / grass roots social protest of the secular middle class that it has witnessed in decades. Thousands of demonstrators in cities and towns throughout the country have been protesting cuts in government funding to health care and education, and massive, exorbitant rises in taxes and housing costs -- and demanding change. Tent cities have sprung up in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and in public gardens and parks throughout the country. And they may not be going anywhere: polls indicate Israeli support is "exceptionally high". [more inside]
Right Wing astroturfing A non-scientific analysis of the patterns in forum board discussions on a variety of topics. The gist: discussions of issues in which there's money at stake (like climate change, public health and corporate tax avoidance) are often characterised by amazing levels of abuse and disruption by rightwing libertarians who are pro-corporate, anti-tax, anti-regulation. Discussions of issues in which there's little money at stake tend to be a lot more civilised than debates about issues where companies stand to lose or gain billions.
Michael Maren, an outspoken critic of foreign aid and development assistance, gave an interview to Might Magazine about the flaws in the current models for aid to Africa.
The votes are in, the people have spoken. An official commemorative health reform t-shirt design has been chosen and is now on sale at Organizing for America. The Vice President must be so proud.
"It's going to be okay. I was raised by a single mom, and I turned out just fine." A young doctor in NYC writes a moving post about her observations in the neonatal intensive care unit.
Brassed off?! (YouTube, 5 min.) Like the health care debate itself, the boycott / buycott confrontation regarding the recent article by Whole Foods CEO John Mackey may be heating up. Mackey, who was previously investigated by the SEC for making anonymous internet posts talking up his stock while trashing the valuation of an acquisition target, now faces opposition from suppliers and labor groups, a decrease in brand perception, investor calls to step down... and pesky oom-pah bands.
Nearly 1 in 5 young adults is out of work. Student debt is the highest its ever been. With a 10 year job growth of negative 230,000 jobs, the pool of available jobs is the lowest its ever been as a ratio to available college grads. And even with this dwindling tax base, in order to sustain Medicare and Social Security by 2020, we will need to tax 1.5 workers for every retiree. [more inside]
Matt Taibbi takes a look at the health care reform circus in Congress. It doesn't come off looking much better than Goldman Sachs. (more inside) [more inside]
The Second Amendment of the Constitution of United States of America gives us all the right to bear arms. It means that as Americans we can keep fire arms without governmental infringement. A few days ago many Americans chose to exercise this right at political Town Hall meetings on health care reform throughout the United States. Some are defending these actions. Others are not. The NRA is remaining quiet.
With the vote on Health Care Reform pushed back to september, Ad campaigns are revving up, both for and against. The DNC has given the 13 million e-mails Obama collected during his campaign to Organizing For America. And our old friends Harry and Louise are back. [more inside]
A concise article in support of a single-payer health care system written by an East Tennessee family medicine physician. [more inside]
Woof Report has a litter of pup-perfect ideas, dog care tips, products, and more. Think of it as your daily dose of doggie delight. Woof Report works to promote awareness of animal welfare causes, pet adoption initiatives and charities.
You may remember Stan Brock from as the British anaconda wrangler from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom (top right video). These days he runs Remote Area Medical, a volunteer airborne relief corps that brings medical, dental, and educational assistance to remote areas of the world. Every year, they go to remote Appalachian Virginia, a one day drive from Washington DC, for a 3 day event at the fairgrounds.
Listen, can you hear them talk? They might be soft spoken, and not easy to get along with, but they can still command (previously) our respect. Read how they are looked after around the world, and the stories which affect their daily lives. Also, here (pdf) is a comprehensive study of their living conditions in different kinds of societies across the globe.
Birth of the National Health Service - How the state of the nation's health became a political ideal
The NHS at 60. The National Health Service is 60 on July 5th. Take a look at documents, audio and video related to the birth and growth of this "radical plan."
"We, having been so nearly destroyed, can use what we've learnt from our destruction to start the world again"
Three award-winning photographers come together to photograph women from around the world, who have been the victims of war, and survived to tell their tale.
I took my video camera to a Foster Care Alumni meeting and asked seven foster kids to tell me about there experiences in Child Protective Services while wards of the state: Tristen, Andrew, Kyle, Aisha, Elnita, Ashley, Joshua. [more inside]
"Souvenir prenatal ultrasounds worry experts." Parent's desire for early snapshots in the womb have led to a rise in commercial companies offering what it describes as "boutique ultrasonography." This site, preciousbabyimaging.com, is just one example.
Massachusetts is about to pass a "nearly" universal health care plan. It's an ambitious and innovative piece of public policy that mixes tax incentives to insure yourself if you can afford it to direct government subsidies to health care insurers to help cover the poor. Businesses will be fined if they are not going to cover their workers. It still does not cover escalating costs or malpractice wildness. And, it still will leave 5% uncovered. Nor, is it the plan specifically endorsed by Physicians for a National Health Plan (who favor a single payer system) or the AMA (who favor much greater reform of insurance providers). Still, it's a start from making us "the only industrialized nation in the world" to not, well you know.....
This is June, the month of grass and leaves. The deciduous trees are investing the evergreens and revealing how dark they are. Already the aspens are trembling again, and a new summer is offered me. I feel a little fluttered in my thoughts, as if I might be too late. -- Thoreau
Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow Michigander doctors and health care providers to refuse treatment on moral, ethical or religious grounds. Yet another OMG MORALZ OMG sort of bill. But wait, what are morals? And does Nicole Kidman figure into this somehow?
Another Magnificent Obsession is born. The fiance of a friend just gave me her small collection of antique radios that they won't have room for in their new place. While looking for care instructions, I discovered a whole new subculture where art, science, design, and craftsmanship co-exist. They don't make 'em like this anymore, folks.