Saturday, January 16, 2010

"Nobody wants to be politically honest about what’s really happening to our country...We’re running out of time to live in denial.'

Admiral who ran U.S. military study on obesity's impact on the future of health care to speak at Germanna Tuesday and Wednesday nights ...

The way things are going, who's going to be "the Biggest Loser?"
America, says a nationally known expert on health care and "futurist."

Dr. William Rowley, a retired rear admiral in the U.S. Navy and a futurist at the Institute for Alternative Futures, says America can’t handle the truth when it comes to the health care reform debate.

The nation can cut its health care expenses by 75 percent by making simple lifestyle changes like doing things as simple as throwing away the TV remote so we have to move around more and eating meals with sensible portion sizes.

“The reality is that our lifestyle is the biggest disease we have in America--it’s killing us,” says Rowley, who will speak at Germanna Community College’s Daniel Center in Culpeper at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19 and at GCC’s Fredericksburg Campus in Spotsylvania at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Rowley trained as a vascular surgeon and has been chief executive officer of two medical centers and a large managed care organization.

He was chairman of the Department of Defense Military Health System 2020 research project, which studied the future of health care and its possible impact on military medicine. Rowley is particularly concerned about what this is doing to our children, but is encouraged by efforts like “Drop It: The 2010 Healthy Living Challenge,” which kicks with a fair from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Jan. 23 at Germanna Community College’s Daniel Center in Culpeper. That will be followed by a “Biggest Loser” type 12-week Weight Loss and Healthy Living Challenge with cash prizes of up to $1,000 for kids and prizes for kids including a Nintendo Wii with Wii Fit. Children are encouraged to make healthier choices, but not required to lose weight.

Culpeper Regional Hospital and Germanna are teaming on this effort to help Culpeper live healthier. Rowley’s talk is part of the Drop It campaign.

Rowley says: ”There are a couple of things health care reform does not tell us. No. 1 is that we’re creating far more disease than our society can afford to pay for. And that’s never gonna change unless we change our lifestyle.

“No. 2 is that we all assume that somebody else is paying for our health care. The reality is we are paying for everything. We pay for it with rising health insurance premiums. And if it’s not our insurance paying for it, it’s our taxes. About 50 percent of what’s paid for health care [already] comes out of governments.”

He notes that health care cost inflation has recently run at 17 percent a year and by 2020, will be 21 percent.

“Until we start honestly talking about what’s going on in our society and putting a limit on what a third party is required to pay and change our lifestyles, we can’t change it.

“Nobody wants to be politically honest about what’s really happening to our country.

“We’re running out of time to live in denial. This is gonna come bite us. And the lobbies are incredibly powerful.”

But we have the power to change things ourselves.

He says a study a few year ago asked 175,000 adults four questions:

Are you a non-smoker?

Are you maintaining a normal body weight?

Are you eating five fruits and vegetables a day?

Do you get at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times a week—including walking?

Shockingly, only 1.5 percent of men and 4.2 percent of women said yes.

“That’s really pathetic,” Rowley says. “It’s not all that hard to get 30 minutes of walking in and eat five fruits and vegetables.”

Studies show 70 percent of premature death is lifestyle-related, Rowley says.

People who follow the simple guidelines above, he says, have:

A 60 percent reduced risk of cancer

A 90 percent reduced risk of diabetes

An 80 percent reduced risk of heart disease

“If you’re 60 and older, 50 percent of the illnesses and injusires could be eliminated if you just did those four simple things,” Rowley says. “Seventy-five percent of our health care costs could be prevented if we got people to modify their lifestyles”

Today, 25 percent of Virginians are obese.

Five years from now, 40 percent of all adults in Virginia will be obese.

By 2030, almost 50 percent will be obese.
“It's amazing how fast this came on,” Rowley says.

An overweight 18-year-old has a 30 percent chance of developing diabetes. One who is obese has a 57 percent chance. One who is very obese has a risk of getting diabetes of 70 percent.

Rowley says the growing obesity problem is draining America’s coffers due to related health care expenses and crippling the nation’s economic productivity and competitiveness.

Rowley cited a Duke University study of its own employees that showed that severely obese employess filed twice as many workman compensation claims, had seven times higher medical costs and lots a whopping 13 times more days from work.

“In other words, as an employer, you cannot afford to have severely obese employees. They’re not capable of working up to their full potential and their costs are unbelievable.”

Today there 680,000 people in Virginia with diagnosed cases of diabetes. That’s 8.5 percent of the population, and that figure is underreported and growing.

Rowley says this year in Virginia there will be:

About 755 new cases of blindness due to diabetes About 1500 people need dialysis because of renal failure due to diabetes. Almost 2,400 are going to have amputations due to diabetes.

In the past, people didn’t typically develop type 2 diabetes until their 50s, 60s and 70s.

“Unfortunately, now we’re seeing it even in teenagers and it’s not uncommon for people in their 40s,” Rowley says.

They’re going to die 10 to 14 years prematurely, he said. And they will have 18 to 21 years of life in which their quality of life is essentially cut in half.

“If you have an amputation and some other problems, maybe you lived all year, but your quality of life was maybe a half a year.” He says. “Get diabetes at age of 40, you lose 20 ‘quality life’ years. That means they’re gonna have an awful lot pain and suffering and [early deaths] due to heart disease, kidney failure, amputations and things like that. So this has a huge impact on our society.”

Seventy-two percent of seniors--those 65 and over—either have diabetes or have pre-diabetes, which means they will develop it unless they change their lifestyles.

There are 977,000 seniors in Virginia, and 165,000 have diagnosed cases of diabetes, another 140,000 have diabetes but they’ve never been never tested and almost 400,000 have pre-diabetes.

“In Virginia, 540,000 seniors desperately need to get tested,” Rowley said. “Either they have it or have pre-diabetes and they don’t know it.”

Rowley says we must face reality and make simple changes in our lifestyle.

“Unfortunately, once you get a chronic disease like diabetes or cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure, it’s very unlikely you’re gonna cure it. We can manage it with a lot of expensive medicines and other therapies. But once you get these diseases, they rarely go away.

“You’ve probably seen the commercial: ‘I’m struggling with my family finances. We’re in a recession. How dare you tax soft drinks?’ “ Rowley says. “ Well, one of the biggest changes for adolescents is school vending machines filled with soft drinks. It’s not unusual for kids to drink two or three 20 ounce bottles a day. You can get 800 to 1,000 calories just in our soft drinks.”

He says it’s vital that schools only stock vending machines with low-calorie drinks and parents make sure children’s meals consist of sensible portion sizes.

The food industry, he says, has turned America into a “obesenogenic” society.

The last study of the American military, in 2005, showed that 62 percent of all active duty military were overweight,” he says, and that’s in a situation where people are required to train for endurance and are weighed twice a year.

“Today, the average American adult is eating 500 calories more a day than in the 60s or 70s. Kids eat 300 more. And 3,500 calories is a pound. You could be gaining a pound a week.

“Everything is supersized. If I go to McDonalds today and get a standard meal, that’s got 800 calories more than when I went to McDonalds in 1960 and got a standard meal. Eight hundred calories takes about three hours of vigorous physical activity to burn off.”

“We have no idea what we’re doing to our bodies,” he says.

“You can go to a restaurant and have a 1,000 calories as an appetitizer before you ever eat your meal.

“And we’ve redesigned out environment so you don’t need to get any physical activity and our work life so there’s no time anyway.

“Kids ride the bus to school and back, gym is eliminated to save money, then they go into the house and play video games and watch television,” he says.

“If 50 percent of the adults in Virginia are gonna be obese in the next 20 years, that shows you what’s going on. Society doesn’t want to deal with it.”
--Post by Mike Zitz

Sunday, January 10, 2010

HCA donates $100,000 to Germanna Community College

Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center donates $100,000 to Germanna Community College
Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center has given the nursing program at Germanna Community College extra reason to celebrate the New Year. The hospital’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Tobin, presented the college with a check for $100,000 Friday.

“Nursing schools are the lifeblood of a hospital’s workforce,” said Tobin. “This donation recognizes the vital work being done by Germanna Community College, and it represents the beginning of what will surely be a strong and collaborative working relationship between our two organizations.”

"We at Germanna Community College value and appreciate this second donation from HCA as further testimony of our growing and mutually beneficial partnership," Germanna President David Sam said. "Their support for and trust in our nursing program will be a vital factor in our ability to produce the increasing numbers of nurses and other health professionals desperately needed in our area, especially as the new Spotsylvania Medical Center opens its doors across the street from our campus entrance. This is a promising start for the New Year for Germanna, and those in our community who need our help, thanks to HCA."

HCA has donated a total of $150,000 to GCC. Medicorp has donated $1.4 million to Germanna over the years.

Construction activity on the hospital and the adjacent Pogonia Medical Arts office building continue on schedule. The office building is expected to open its doors in March (confirm?), with the hospital to follow in June. SRMC will add some 375 full-time jobs to the economy at that time, with more to follow as the hospital grows. “The countdown is on,” said Tobin. “Building a new enterprise from the ground up is a challenging but exhilarating experience, and our entire team is grateful for the ongoing support we’re receiving from physicians, the business community, county officials and others.”

About Spotsylvania Regional Medical Center: This technologically advanced, 126-bed hospital will open June 2010 on a 75-acre campus near Fredericksburg, just south of Exit 126 of Interstate 95 and adjacent to GCC's Fredericksburg Campus. It will have all private rooms and provide a wide range of in- and outpatient services, including 24-hour emergency care, obstetrics, advanced diagnostic imaging, intensive care, cardiac catheterization, orthopedics, and behavioral health services. Adjoining the hospital will be the Pogonia Medical Arts office building, an 80,000-square-foot complex that will house physician offices.

About HCA Virginia: HCA Virginia is the state’s most comprehensive healthcare network with two dozen locally managed hospitals and outpatient centers in Central, Southwestern, and Northern Virginia. With a workforce of more than 10,000, it is one of the state's largest employers and healthcare providers. Each year HCA Virginia facilities provide approximately $100 million in free charity care to needy patients and pays $100 million in taxes that support vital community services.