The Shame of the Canadian Health Care System

Canada has medical coverage for its citizens, which is seemingly a wonderful idea. How much is covered varies from province to province The shame of this Canadian health care system however, is what does not happen for the patients who fall between the cracks. This is because of lack of adequate staffing and available services. It is also because there are many who cannot afford the additional expenses outside of the covered hospitalization. If they are in the hospital, the coverage is often phenomenal.

Some areas of Canada are still struggling for enough medical practitioners to perform the necessary services. Unless a procedure is deemed immediately life threatening, the patient is often put on long waiting lists for necessary surgeries and/or treatments. Some have to wait months or over a year, while suffering the symptoms of whatever particular illness or disease they are living with. It is often something treatable that affects their abilities to function and contribute to their daily lives in a productive manner.

The catch is, that unless you get the treatment/s or medications, you don’t get well or get to a fully functioning level. Without that ability you can’t get the work to pay for the treatments the Canadian health care system does not cover.

If you are lucky enough to have an employer or a medical plan which covers the additional costs, then the system works in your favour. For those who do not have the luxury of this additional coverage and fall into the working class poor category, they are put in a position where they cannot get full treatment. Even for those who do have the ability to pay for additional medications and/or treatments, the additional expenses can be overwhelming. Additionally, dentistry and optometry are often not covered at all.

Here is a case in point. This is an actual case. A man and wife are both working. One works full time for income outside the home, the other works very hard , often at all hours of the day and night for minimal pay managing the apartment complex they live in. . This pay covers most of their rent. He cannot get a job besides this, even though he has tried over and over, primarily because of his medical conditions. They both work long hard hours, and struggle over everything including food. They are hard working responsible people who contribute to society in many ways. The spouse working the complex they live in, suffers from diabetes and heart problems, amongst other things. He also does volunteer work for a local food bank to help other people, even though he and his wife are already working hard to exist. He is able to go to the doctor for free, but here is the hitch. These doctors prescribe a plethora of medicines that they cannot possibly afford on their income. They have no other means to receive these funds. Therefore the husband is unable to get the daily treatment he needs. He sometimes is forced to go into the hospital to receive enough treatment for free in order to keep him going. Then he is given prescriptions upon release that he cannot possibly fill or pay for. It becomes a vicious cycle to survive. These are people who take pride in being productive citizens and yet they cannot receive the most basic daily treatments under the existing Canadian health care system.

The pros of the Canadian health care system are obvious. For people in other countries, these benefits , even with these problems, would be a vast improvement over what they have. The United States has millions of uninsured citizens, which is shameful in a country that has such amazing resources. The shame of the Canadian health care system is that the lower income families, although often hard working, are left to suffer. Hospitalization is a last resource, but under this system, it often gets used as the only resource, which the government then funds, when smaller less expensive treatment such as simple medications would suffice.

Childhood Obesity and Iron Deficiency Anemia Linked to Prolonged Bottle Feeding

According to a 2003 survey and study conducted by Karen A. Bonuck, Ph.D., and Richard Kahn, M.S., of the Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine, children who are bottle fed for a prolonged period of time may be at higher than normal risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia or becoming obese.

The study was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and included 95 children, most of whom were Hispanic or black and from lower income families. They ranged in age from 18 to 56 months, with the average age being 36 months. The children’s caretakers were given the survey when they reported for re-certification at several Bronx, N.Y., Women’s, Infants amp; Children (WIC) supplemental feeding programs.

The doctors found the following:

Based on their BMI, 50 percent of the children were overweight; 36 percent were obese.

Based on their blood test results, 21 percent of the children met the criteria for anemia, as set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Caregivers reported that 63 percent of the children were given daily bottles of milk or sweet liquids such as juice; each child was given anywhere from three to 10 bottles each day.

The researchers concluded that use of the bottle did not seem to be significantly associated with a child being overweight, but both obesity and iron-deficiency anemia were significantly linked to a child’s bottle use.

Although iron deficiency is common in children, iron-deficiency anemia has been associated with delayed mental and psychomotor development. Children who either don’t eat enough or eat foods that are poor sources of iron are at greatest risk of developing iron-deficiency anemia. According to KidsHealth.com, poverty has been found to also be a contributing factor to iron-deficiency anemia because children of poor families often don’t get enough iron-rich foods.

Interestingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants be introduced to drinking from a cup by six months of age; they recommend a child be completely weaned from the bottle by 15 months. However, 20 percent of children two years old and nine percent of children three years old are still using a baby bottle. Further, babies who are more likely to stay on the bottle the longest are from poor, urban, less-educated and minority parents.

According to Drs. Bonuck and Kahn, children who aren’t weaned by the recommended time often become habituated to drinking milk or sweet liquids throughout both day and night, rather than drinking water. Cow’s milk is low in the iron needed for growth and development, and it also decreases the absorption of iron. Further, drinking milk and sweet liquids can also discourage a child’s taste for other food, as well as for a more balanced diet.

Resources:

AHRQ; http://www.ahrq.gov/research/feb03/0203RA5.htm

KidsHealth; http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/ida.html

American Academy of Pediatrics

What Are Good Fish Oils and Why Should I Take Them?

There is much publicity these days about eating good fish. The benefits are well advertised, eating three meals with good fish as the main protein each week will help lower cholesterol, prevent heart attacks, lower blood pressure, prevent strokes and lubricate our joints.

But what are good fish? Good fish are what are known as oily fish. They are rich in omega three fatty acids. These are the fish that are usually found in cold seas or at great depth: they are not usually white fleshed. They include fish such as Salmon, Tuna, Mackerel, Halibut, and Herring. Tinned fish is as good as fresh fish to eat for this purpose. All fish livers contain these good fats; it is just that these particular fish are a richer source of it. Fish liver oil capsules are made from other fish, and concentrated.

Omega three fatty acids are the ones that are helpful to our health. Research has shown that these fats will lower cholesterol levels, particularly the harmful low-density lipids, and may in fact aid in dissolving plaques that have already formed in our blood vessels. Fish oils reduce blood pressure slightly. This reduces the risk of all coronary diseases. Omega three fatty acids are beneficial in all inflammatory diseases, including arthritis, rheumatism and general sore muscles and joints. This is thought to be due to their action on the prostaglandin system, which plays a part in coronary disease as well.

Less well known are the benefits of fish oil in ADHD, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and schizophrenia. These benefits are due to the vital role that essential fatty acids play in brain development. Pregnant and breast-feeding women are encouraged to have an adequate intake of these fats to promote healthy brain development in their children. Many commercial baby formulas now contain added omega three oils. Pregnant women have to be sure that their source of omega three is safe from mercury contamination, and so often use soybean or flaxseed oil instead of fish. They are not as rich a source as fish oils but seem safer.

Recent concern has focused on the fact that commercially caught fish may be contaminated with mercury. This has led to a movement away from fish eating, and towards the taking of capsules that are guaranteed to be free of mercury. The mercury contamination appears to be with naturally occurring Mercury, not just industrial by products, and so the region of the world the fish are caught in makes little difference. The fish with the highest levels of mercury are found to be shellfish and apex predators, such as swordfish, which is why pregnant women are advised to avoid them. Unless you eat exceedingly high amounts of these fish the levels of mercury you ingest are not likely to be very high.

All people, whatever their age or state of health, benefit from a daily dose of fish liver oil capsules, or from eating oily fish three times a week. The spoonful of cod liver oil our grandparents and parents were forced to swallow every day really was doing them good, much as they would have wished it otherwise.

How the Healthcare System Failed One Girl: When Money’s More Important Than Lives

This is not a political article about health care. I’m going to put a face and a heart to the subject of health care. I worked in a hospital that shall for obvious reasons remain nameless. Health care was given to those who were insured and those that could afford to pay. Unfortunately, some patients had to go without. This article is dedicated to a baby girl who never got to grow up because her parents didn’t have insurance. I worked the night she was brought into my emergency room on the 11pm – 7am shift.

A woman without insurance came with her husband to the hospital to be delivered of the baby that she was carrying. The parents were poor, but they expected their baby to be born without any problem. The delivery room was adjacent to the emergency room, so often staff would go back and forth between the two departments if help was needed.

I was brand new to my nursing career. I had been working the ER for about a month in 1980 when around midnight my nursing supervisor came in with a pale and cold infant wrapped in a blanket. I was instructed to watch the baby until it stopped breathing. I was horrified, and told her the baby needs to be put under the warming lights. My supervisor said, no.

“This baby is clinically dead.” She said. I couldn’t understand how anyone could be so heartless as to tell the parents their baby had died, when she was still alive. Her pulse, when I got her, was in the mid 60s. A heart rate so slow cannot sustain life, but it was my opinion that this baby could have rallied if she were put under the warming lights like every other baby was.

“This baby has medical problems and needs to be shipped out. We are not qualified to meet her needs.” She said. Again I was livid. She told me to be quiet. And said the parents didn’t have insurance, and no hospital will take her. My supervisor then placed the infant in my arms and then told me to keep my mouth shut. If I were to report this to anyone I would have lost my job.

Looking back to that night I still cry for that baby that wasn’t given a chance to live. Money meant the difference between a life and death. I don’t know what was wrong with the baby. She had 10 toes, and 10 fingers. She was breathing on her own until her heart began to tire. I will always feel if everyone had done their jobs this baby would be a woman now, maybe with children of her own.

Being a nurse in a small hospital in the ’80s and ’90s was bittersweet. There were wonderful times, but there were times when I was ashamed to say I worked there. There has been more than one occasion that I was instructed to keep my mouth shut. Health care shouldn’t have only been for those who qualified for aid, or for those with insurance, or for those that could afford it.

I think everyone has heard about atrocities that have happened to patients that have come to a hospital for emergency care and they were either turned away or given shoddy care. Through the years I hope our health care workers and the people that write the laws will come together and treat everyone with the same modicum of respect. It shouldn’t matter if the patient is a mom delivering her child, or the new born baby, or any other medical need; everyone should be treated the same, whether they are rich or poor.

I think there is less chance of things like this happening now. But every now and then you still hear of things just as bad as this incident. I think it is time that everyone have affordable health care.

Quit Smoking Now: The Most Effective Methods

Smoking is addictive. Smoking is unattractive. Smoking is harmful to your health. Although the reasons to quit smoking seem fairly obvious, it is much easier said than done. There is a reason cigarettes have become a booming industry around the world. They is highly addictive. Even if you desperately want to quit, it takes a great deal of effort. Some people can do it on their own, while others needs a bit of help. Wherever you are, you are not alone. There are millions of people all over the world trying to quit just like you. Now is the best time to begin. There are some highly effective smoking cessation programs and products on the market today.

Nicotine products

The main drug found in cigarettes is nicotine. Nicotine is the chemical that causes the addiction to smoking. Cigarettes, however, not only supply the body with nicotine, but also harmful chemicals found in smoke. The smoke from the cigarette is the most dangerous element of smoking. Some products on the market today take away the harmful smoke aspect, while still giving individuals the nicotine. Products such as nicotine gum and patches are now available over-the-counter. When used in conjunction with other smoking cessation programs, they can be quite effective.

Filter

Another smoking cessation product on the market is the filtrim. This is a device that actually changes the way standard cigarettes burn. It punches perforations into your favorite brand of cigarette. These perforations reduce the amount of nicotine and smoke poisons you ingest while inhaling. It comes with a four stage process that slowly weens you from your nicotine addiction. This system works best for people who find themselves smoking during certain times of the day or in a particular atmosphere. The filter doesn’t alter the taste of the cigarette, just the way the cigarette burns.

Cold Turkey

Some folks would rather skip all the products on the market and jump in head first. People who decide to quit smoking immediately, without weening themselves from the nicotine have decided to go “cold turkey”. This method works for some, but can be devastating to others. Smokers who quit cold turkey usually have problems with withdrawal symptoms. They also have a tendency to have a lower success rate. Some smokers, however, do better if they never touch another cigarette again. In this case, cold turkey is the answer.

Hypnosis

Hypnosis is a method of therapy used in many different situations. People have used hypnosis to overcome the fear of flying, lose weight, and even stop smoking. Hypnosis can be done by a professional hypnotherapist or by oneself. The goal is to alter the mind response to cigarettes and their physical cues. For example, instead of craving a cigarette when you are stressed, you can alter your mind to crave exercise. Hypnosis can be extremely successful for some smokers and ineffectual for others.

Smoking is a horrible habit for you and for those around you. It does not, however, have complete power over your body and mind. While it is highly addictive, it is also very possible to overcome. Many have defeated their smoking addiction. You could be next. Smoking cessation methods and products on the market today can be a great help you on your journey.

Healthy Teeth Leads to Healthy Heart

Scientists find that taking care of our teeth proves to be a good way to prevent heart diseases. The periodontal patients show evidence to reaction to bacteria associated with periodontitis. These patients may be prone to developing cardiovascular disease. The scientists studied the long term effects of periodontitis. Kenneth Kornman, editor of the journal of periodontology, thinks that extended bacterial exposure leads to cardiovascular disease. The researchers analyzed the level of bacterial exposure. They also measured the biological indicators of biological exposure. It has been found that people with periodontal disease whose biomarkers showed increase in biological exposure were at a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease or atherogenesis.

Best Resources to Help You Find a Job in Healthcare

If you’ve recently graduated with a degree in healthcare, or are switching careers to the healthcare industry and need an entry-level position, there are an overwhelming number of job boards and resources to review as you begin an official search. Many healthcare companies use recruiters because the number of applicants is so vast and diverse; if you’re not working with a recruiter during your last semester of college, you can network with a few companies as soon as you graduate. Still, there are more ways to pursue healthcare job opportunities on your own. Here are some of the best resources to find healthcare jobs for any level of experience and position:

Healthcare Jobs at Medzilla
Medzilla is one of the largest and most comprehensive job boards and search engines, and has been connecting job seeker and employers since 1994. You can set up a simple profile to keep track of jobs applied for, and the major pharmaceutical companies are listed right on the main page for easy access. Also check out the articles section for information on the job industry and salaries for various positions.

Healthcare Jobs at MD Jobsite
If you’re a certified physician looking for a hospital or physician recruiting firm, this is the place to begin your search. This job bank has been operating since 1999, and featured positions are listed right on the front page. You can search by employment category and location for a quick glance of available positions in your area.

Healthcare Jobs on Indeed.com
Indeed.com is the place to run just one search by keyword and location, and pull all current listings form major job boards such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, HotJobs.com, and even Craigslist. Head here if you want to do a national search for a particular position, or just to browse the thousands of available jobs in healthcare.

Healthcare Jobs at PracticeLink
Another great spot for physicians on the job hunt is PracticeLink, a well-established database of current listings that offers live statistics on available jobs, along with a breakdown of jobs by specialty. You can run a simple keyword search by profession, state, specialty and geographic region for up-to-date listings and set up a profile quickly after loading up your resume/CV.

Healthcare Jobs on Health Career Web
Health Career Web is a growing community of medical companies and independent medical specialist that you can network with online. The job search is simple to follow and can help you narrow down by field and specialization. This resource allows you to search by keyword, location, and city and the forums can be especially helpful to get some advice about various companies.

When you’re looking for healthcare jobs online, specialized job boards can help you find the ideal match much faster than boards such as Monster.com or Yahoo! HotJobs. In most cases, applying for a job through these specialty job boards will link you up with a recruiter who can help negotiate your position and make the process much more efficient.

Getting Inked

My brother, bless his heart, was at a conference where he gathered the signatures of the entire cast of one of his favorite TV shows: The Kids in the Hall.

He then had the signatures tattooed on his back.

“So,” I asked him, “what do you do when one of these guys turns out to be a drug-addicted necrophiliac?”

“Simple. I’ll get ‘sucks’ tattooed below it,” he replied, grinning.

This was years ago and, to my knowledge, he is still happy with his ink. More power to him.

Far from being a member of the Anti-Body Art League, I’m a big fan of tattoos and other forms of body art. As Agrado said in Todo Sobre mi Madre, “You are more authentic the more you resemble what you’ve dreamed of being.” However, there are four important concerns everyone should consider when getting a tattoo: art choices, location, artist selection and health concerns.

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Choosing Artwork
Obviously you should be careful about what you select because it will be with you forever. The Web is a great place to see all kinds of ink, particularly using sites such as BME Zine (be careful though – this site caters to all forms of body modification, so either keep an open mind, close your eyes, or stay back!).

While you are thinking about art, consider what you would have selected a year ago or ten years ago. Would you still want that?

And think about why you want the tattoo. Names are almost always a bad idea, unless it is your child or your mother.

Another of the most commonly regretted tats are those for membership in short-term organizations such as fraternities. While you may be deeply immersed in the life of that group of people, four years from now you will have little if any association with them. Think long-term.

After you’ve picked a design you like, trace it heavily on a piece of paper with pencil. Hold this to your body approximately where you’d like the tattoo, pressing the penciled marks against your skin. Hold it there for about 30 seconds and some of the graphite from the pencil will stick to your skin, giving you an idea of how the tattoo might look.

Still like it? Great. Now wait.

And wait.

And wait.

If you still like that design 6 months or a year later, go for it.

Body Location
I would never recommend anyone get a tattoo in a spot they cannot cover up; there is no sense in limiting your employment prospects. But that’s my personal taste; if, like Mike Tyson, your job and lifestyle allow you to get crazy facial tattoos, go for it. After all, I would never tell the Lizardman that he was wrong to get a tattoo so long as it works for him even if it would not work for me. But you must consider all of the ramifications before you do something drastic.

And still remember all of the considerations for choosing your artwork. Think about it for a long time before making the decision.

Artist Selection/Health
These two are actually completely linked. Picking a tattoo artist is like picking a surgeon. You don’t want to be their first attempt and you want them to wash their hands frequently.

Tattooing involves making thousands of tiny cuts in your body and it opens the body to infection, particularly if the needles are dirty. HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis and other blood-bourne illnesses can be transmitted by bad tattoo artists. Make sure they have a clean shop. It should smell vaguely like a dentist’s office crossed with a printing press – ink and disinfectant.

At the same time, always look for a good artist with a solid reputation. Look at examples of their past work. They are an artist. You are their canvas.

Now that you have ink, make sure to follow the care instructions carefully, protect it from sunburns and treat it nicely. You two are now together forever.

And last, but not least, always remember to tip your artist!

Healthier Eating for the Whole Family

Have you ever had an “ah-ha!”, lightbulb going off in your head, inspiring moment? I’m sure it wasn’t something that originated with me, I must have picked up the idea somewhere else and it finally cemented itself as a good idea way after the fact.

If your New Years Resolution was to clean out your cabinets, refrigerator, freezer, and pantry of all the unhealthy foods and replace them with organic/healthy alternatives, then you probably know by now that it may not be that easy. Like many New Years Resolutions, setting the bar too high may end in disaster and have you forgetting it all together. Especially if you have a family to feed.

So here’s an idea. Set a goal of introducing one new HEALTHY meal a week, made from all organic and good-for-you foods. It doesn’t matter if it is for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The idea is to create a dish where you never have to alter another ingredient in again. Try it out, but don’t tell your family that you are trying to be “healthy” – just feed it to them and see what they think. Write the recipes down on index cards. If they like the meal (in which case, give yourself a pat on the back), then put it into a folder or envelope marked “permanant” – which means that it’s safe to keep making that meal on a regular basis. Then the next week, try another NEW meal (the meal you made the last week doesn’t count as new, but you can still make it again that week – which means instead of just one healthy dish, you now have two), and do the same thing. If they don’t like it, make sure you put it in a “no-no” folder, or mark it off in your cookbook so you don’t try it again. It might be best if you made a healthy and organic dinner last week, that you switch to a breakfast or lunch for this week. That way your family is sure not to catch on. After a while, you’ll slowly be working in the health food and recipes that your family and their bodies will learn to love, without them having any idea. It’s a slow process, but you’ll be able to come up with a dozen or more sure-fire recipes to make regularly. After a while, you’ll be able to look in the cabinets and notice a chance. And it’s possible that maybe, just maybe, your family will be in better spirits, have more energy, and live more fulfilling lives because of the food that is now placed in their body, while instilling these habits in your children to follow with them the rest of their lives.

Get Up and Get Out! Staying Active is Worth Your Time

America’s youth has lost some creativity and critical thinking skills. The newer generation of people are less productive and more out of shape than ever before. There are a couple of factors that have lead to this, the main issue I believe Americans face is the simple idea of getting up and getting out.

By simply getting up out of bed, off of the couch and getting out on your feet you are more active. By being more active you stimulate your body and it functions better than when it is stationary. Human bodies were designed to be in motion, yet we have created more and more technology that only hinders us from actually being in motion. With ll of the increases in technology many children want video games or movies for Christmas and birthdays instead of sports toys, or outdoor gear. When I see such a thing happen it saddens me.

When I visit a sporting goods store and see families shopping together, and father and son looking over new things for outdoor use, I truly see the future of the world. These fathers know the meaning of being a father, not just a money maker for the family. No wonder our society today is so strife with problems and social issues, it has been proven over and over that bringing a child up without correct fatherly influence can have disastrous effects on the child.

Not only does being an outdoors kind of person help with personal time, it also helps the person be a critical thinker and improves creativity. When you watch T.V. your brain lowers is processes, it relaxes, depending on the show you are watching you may be doing harm even though this has never been proven. Relaxing the mind is not a bad thing and it needs to happen but watching T.V. in my opinion may relax the brain too much, also at young ages some scientific studies have found that certain types of media being viewed can effect younger brains that are not “world hardened”. Video games in my opinion are not nearly as bad as sitting and watching T.V. for hours. With video games you are at least using your brain and fingers, or body in some cases, to get to a goal and you brain remain more active then when watching T.V. while sitting and eating, drinking.

I fully encourage everybody not just parents and children, to get outside. If you have a family dog take them on a walk for 20 minutes you will be surprised at how much you can really gain from it. Being active has also been linked to health issues from asthma to diabetes, so by simply stepping out side and being more active you can help you health without even working out. If you have a friend who lives a block away resist driving and just walk over. If you work on the second floor of a building just walk up the stairs, the difference will make more of a change than you can think.