Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Enough Cottonwoods? Electronic Health Records, Senior Joy, Climate Illogic

Some reactions to yesterday's Anchorage Daily News.  Nothing earth shattering here.  Don't have time to right now for that.

1.  How essential are electronic health records for treating patients? 

In an article on loss of FCC funding for rural health care, Anchorage Daily News reporter Annie Zak wrote:
"They rely on that connectivity for electronic health records, essential for treating patients."
I remember going to a focus group on electronic health records eleven years ago.  At that time the hospitals here didn't have EHR and were pushing to get them.  And now you can't treat patients without them?  I wonder what all the doctors who practiced medicine before EHR existed would say about this statement  or what all those doctors around the world who don't have electronic health records do?  Shut up shop because they don't have an essential tool for treating patients?

Yes, electronic health records make it easier and faster to get patient medical histories and to share records when referring patients to other doctors.  BUT they are NOT an essential tool for treating patients.  If they are essential in some settings, it's only because hospitals have now made them the only records kept.  But, if worse comes to worse, the doctor can ask the patient like they used to do.  And they also mean that confidential medical records are now highly vulnerable to hackers.  It's not a question of if they are breached, just when.

2.  Does senior joy make older folks irrelevant to the young?

Charles Wohlforth had a piece on Tom Choate who climbed Denali five years ago at age 78.  The article talks about older folks giving up ambition and competitiveness for happiness.  He then writes,
"But Angell noted that his quality [being happy and not competitive)] has the perverse effect [of] getting old people ignored, as if contentment means you don't matter."
He gives an example of being ignored in conversations with younger men.  Wohlforth muses:
"Interesting, isn't it, our tendency to patronize the old as we do the young? It's as if, like children, their joy disqualifies them, indicating they can't understand the true toughness of life. As if they don't know adulthood's difficult struggle for goals and status." 
This seems to me a giant leap to a questionable conclusion.  Is it the joy that disqualifies them?  Is it even joy he means here, or rather contentment?  I suspect other possible explanations.  One, the contented senior doesn't have the need to push himself into the conversation as much.  Or, if it is about the younger men's regard for the older, it's that he's no longer keeping current in all the details they think are important and/or he doesn't have power in the world that matters to them.  This would be more consistent with Wohlforth's earlier (in the article) note that being ignored is a condition shared by women and that form of snubbing is much more about power than it is about joy.

3.  Climate Illogic  

This was a letter to the editor.  It's short.  So I can give you the whole letter:

Is there climate change? Of course. Earth's climate has always been in a state of change. Alaska was once a sub-tropical area that became an arctic environment.
Puny man cannot stop or slow this change. One volcano eruption can put tons of greenhouse gases into the environment. Carbon dioxide is a major greenhouse gas produced by every animal that breathes air. It is used by plants and is needed by them to grow and the plants turn this CO2 back into oxygen that we animals breathe in order to live.
If you want to really make a difference, plant trees, disconnect the natural gas and electricity to your house, throw away your vehicle keys and walk everywhere.
Charles Brobst
Anchorage    [emphasis added]
There's plenty of evidence that while climate has changed over the billions of years of earth's existence, that the last 200 years or so have seen a much more rapid change than in the past and this change coincides with the beginning of the industrial revolution.

But that's not my point here.  First Mr. Brobst tells us that "Puny man cannot stop or slow this hang"  and then he makes a list of how 'you' can make a difference (which I take to mean slow the change.)  All the things he lists seem to imply - give up our modern life style.

So I'm guessing he really means to say, "If you want to stop climate change, we have to go back to the StoneAge."  This is not the case.  We just need to find alternative energy sources, cut back in consumption that isn't sustainable, an be willing to explore alternatives to how we live - and the Stone Age isn't the only alternative.  The impacts of climate change - if we do nothing - is clearly problematic for our economy.  The impact of actions to stop climate change actually improve our economy.

4.  People really do hate cottonwoods

In another letter to the editor, Patricia Wells laments to poor state of the Anchorage Coastal Trail - cracking asphalt, trash, leaves piled up on the trail, trees blocking views.  And then she says it:
"Believe me, we do not need any more cottonwood trees."
I get her sentiment - particularly now when the sticky cottonwood catkins pile up on our deck and stick to your feet as you walk on them, using you as their way into your house.  I've written a few posts on cottonwoods. (I just looked - there are 30 posts with the label 'cottonwood.'  Here's one that takes an alternative look at these trees.)  Ultimately, they are huge trees - an anomaly this far north - which grow fast (also an anomaly here) and clean the air, anchor the soil, provide habitat for birds and other animals.  But I get it.  Besides the catkins now, the fluffy cotton will start littering Anchorage later in the summer.

1 comment:

  1. I am more surprised the Mr.Wohlforth found some young men to have conversations with and not looking at their phones.



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