Friday, November 28, 2008

December 1st is World AIDS Day

Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

Quick Facts on AIDS in the United States

UNAIDS Secretariat:
20, Avenue Appia
CH-1211 Geneva 27
Telephone: +41.22.791.3666
Fax: +41.22.791.4187
Materials available
Contact: None designated

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving From The Healing Project

The Healing Project wishes that everyone in our US community has wonderful holiday.

Given this is a celebration on America's bounty, please take a moment to reflect on those that are less fortunate and make a donation to extend our reach to those that have unmet medical needs.

Again have a happy, healthy and enjoyable holiday.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

November 20th is Great American Smokeout

It is time to pack it in. The Healing Project knows it isn't easy to go cold turkey but newer drugs like Chantix have demonstrated amazing results in smokers with manageable side-effects. Check for Great American Smokeout programs in your local communites and give it a shot.

Great American Smokeout
American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30303
(800) ACS-2345 (227-2345)

Materials available
Contact: National Office

Friday, November 14, 2008

November is Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month

What is PH?
Pulmonary hypertension is a rare blood vessel disorder of the lung in which the pressure in the pulmonary artery (the blood vessel that leads from the heart to the lungs) rises above normal levels and may become life threatening.

Pulmonary Hypertension Awareness Month
Pulmonary Hypertension Association
801 Roeder Road, Suite 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(800) 748-7274 Helpline
(301) 565-3004 x109
(301) 565-3994 Fax

Materials available
Contact: Katie Kroner

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November is National Hospice Palliative Care Month

The Healing Project strongly advocates the pateints and caregivers consider hospice care as the end-of-life approaches. These facilities offer a kind and compassionate place to come to terms with one's mortality.

1.3 million people with life-limiting illness received care from the nation’s 4,500 hospice providers last year. This represents continued growth in both patients served and number of providers. Approximately 35 percent of all deaths in the US were under the care of a hospice program.

Additionally, the top five diagnoses among hospice patients reported by NHPCO show the continued trend of less cancer patients among those served. The top five diagnoses seen in hospice for 2006 are as follows:

Cancer 44.1 percent
Heart Disease 12.2 percent
Debility 11.8 percent
Dementia 10.0 percent
Lung Disease 7.7 percent

Throughout the month of November, hospice and palliative care organizations across the nation are hosting activities to educate the public and other healthcare professionals about the benefits of hospice and palliative care.

Hospice is not a place but a philosophy of care created to help people live with dignity, comfort, and compassion at the end of life. Palliative care works to bring this philosophy of care to people earlier in the course of a serious illness.

Hospice and palliative care programs provide pain management, symptom control, psychosocial support, and spiritual care to patients and their families. They also serve as valuable community resources about care options.

Additional information about hospice, palliative care, advance care planning, and talking with loved ones about these important issues is available from NHPCO’s Caring Connections. For information, to find a local hospice, or to get a free state-specific advance directive form, visit or call the HelpLine at 800/658-8898.

National Hospice Palliative Care Month
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
1700 Diagonal Road, Suite 625
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 837-1500 or (703) 837-3139
(703) 837-1233 Fax
Contact: Jon Radulovic

The New President and Healthcare - Part II - Medical Services

Before wholesale changes are made to US healthcare system, Mr. Obama should fix the two health systems that federal government controls. The Military Health System and the Veterans Administration are two of the largest health systems in the United States and have serious problems.

The critical problems with these entities are led by incompetent, indifferent and anti-scientific management. Mr. Obama should immediately request the Bush Administration remove S. Ward Casscells, M.D. and Ellen Embrey. These two individuals are directly responsible for the lack of progress in the treatment of mental illness, mild-traumatic brain injury, traumatic brain injury, suicide and PTSD. They have led a campaign to continue the Bush Administration policy to underreport casualties in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Further, these individuals have aided and abetted the US Army’s program to deny benefits to wounded and disabled service members. Finally, they will babble endlessly about what we don’t understand about these injuries so it will require years of research. In fact, much more is known about these injuries then they would like Congress to believe. However, these scientific facts fly in the face of their political objectives so they have let contracts to friends of the US Army who will confuse the issue for years.

What to do following the dismissal of Dr. Casscells and Ellen Embrey.

First, quickly review all contracts let by these individuals for contract irregularities and pursue criminal prosecution. Next, remove the US Army from all leadership positions in programs related to mental health and brain injury. The US Army personnel should be replaced by officers from the Air Force and the Navy. The Air Force and Navy are more technologically enabled and lack a political agenda as both branches have honored their disability payments. It is not to say the US Army lacks officers with technical expertise in the areas of mental health or traumatic brain injury but they were excluded from the process because they could not get with the program. Instead, the US Army replaced them with people qualified as occupational therapists and physicians’ assistants. It is time to get organized and led by the right talent. Mental health and traumatic brain injury issues can be solved and could have been largely avoided if it had not become political. Finally, embrace the civilian medical sector. Much of the most advanced research in mental health and traumatic brain injury is at specialized centers such as the Kessler Institute in New Jersey. Civilian entities were willing an able to take a leading role in solving these problems but were denied participation by the hacks running MHS and the VA.

With regard to the VA, Mr. Obama should immediately remove the entire senior management. Dr. Jim Peake is the former US Army Surgeon General. When in uniform, he was part of the program that left the nation unprepared to deal with mental health and traumatic brain injury issues. He not only failed for active service members but also rewarded with even greater responsibility so he could fail them once of service members became veterans. Since the VA is evolved into a system to treat geriatric patients, the surge in younger service members should be guided to civilian medical resources at government expense. The major exception is in PTSD where the VA and CDC did some of the most distinguished work both scientifically and clinically. The VA needs to get some younger more aggressive leadership in this area and capitalize on the VAs expertise. It should also embrace private psychologists to screen and treat the less serious cases locally and triage the most complex cases to VA centers of excellence.

Again, the medical failure at MHS and the VA is not as much a monetary problem as it is a management problem. Last year $2,1B was distributed by Congress to the VA and MHS to treat wounded with TBI and mental health issues. Nonetheless, the leadership is unable to account for much of the spending and the results have been almost nonexistent. With little doubt, the bulk of our service members could have been identified and started treatment. It does and will require funds but funds well spent. Let’s fix the problem and stop the talk.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The New President and Healthcare - Part I - Research

Now that the United States has elected a new president, it is time for Mr. Obama that his talk of change is more than just talk. Mr. Obama has also implied that the US Federal Government can have a powerful and positive impact on healthcare.

The Federal Government is already a major force in healthcare ranging from basic research to direct provision of medical services to reimbursement of fee for service medical services. While enormous amounts of money are thrown into US healthcare, the results are have been less than stellar for the past 30 years. It is time to clean this mess up, and he should start will what the Federal government directly controls.

US Government research has been corrupted by politics for decades. The NIH, CDC and DoD value filling out forms more than the quality of the minds engaged in research. The peer review panels guide funding to politically connected individuals and entities or influenced by professional conflicts. The research is often conducted in the districts of well-connected congressman at third and fourth tier universities by third and fourth tier researchers. Much of the research is funded without results. Failure is fine and expected but what is unconscionable is that so many projects do not advance the field. Alzheimer’s disease, Traumatic Brain Injury and AIDs research are all examples heavily funded scientific political cesspools that have shown unremarkable progress in the past 20 years.

It is time to turn back the clock when NASA, NIH, DARPA, DoD, ONR and CDC when these organizations were led by people who were public intellectuals and visionaries. It was their mandate to identify the best talent and facilitate conquering an objective. Proficiency in filling out forms was low on the list of priorities. Speed and intellect were what counted. The average age of the team of scientists and engineers that put a man on the moon was 26. The average age of NIH grantee is approaching retirement age. Scientists and engineers make their great leaps forward in their 30’s and 40’s and generally extend the same line of work for the balance of the careers. Of course, there are exceptional minds that are super intellects (1% of 1%) and should be given unique permanent funding to indulge their interests. For the rest of the scientific, engineering and math communities, funding should be limited to 3 to 5 years renewable for 5 years. The funding should be based on clear objectives. Progress should be judged by peers in other fields as well as those in the art. Panels used by funding agencies tend to be filled with people who are third and fourth tier minds in the art who have nothing better to do than sit on a government panel. Identify people that don’t want to serve and who have something better to do and encourage them to identify and support the next generation of big brains.

People in the field, if infected with any degree of humility, can identify the most talented minds and people outside the field can generally identify those that are truly gifted from those that are merely hardworking. This will disturb many in Congress because the balance of funding will be concentrated on the coasts at the leading US research institutions like Columbia, Harvard, Yale, UCal, and Stanford and leave out East Podunk University. On the other hand, some of the most creative thinkers find their homes in the most unlikely places as their radical thoughts run contrary to orthodox views. It is incumbent on the federal government to find skilled administrators to find the talent and support it regardless of location or political influence. It is time to move the ball forward. It is also time to move it quickly and cost-effectively. More money without better methods will get us nowhere.

Part II – will deal with the US federal government’s provision of healthcare.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November is National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month

President Ronald Reagan designated November as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month in 1983. At the time, fewer than 2 million Americans had Alzheimer’s; today, the number of people with the disease has soared to more than 5 million. By 2050, 11 to 16 million people will likely have Alzheimer’s.

Later diagnosed with Alzheimer’s himself, President Reagan died in 2003.

While there is much we don’t yet know about Alzheimer’s disease, tremendous progress has been made since 1983. National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness month to raise awareness of Alzheimer's disease and to shed light on the importance of finding breakthroughs in diagnosis, prevention, treatments and, eventually, a cure.

The Healing Project would also like to emphasize that Alzheimer's is only one of several types of dementia and there is a grwoing body of evidence that many patients present with multiple forms of dementia. The cure will not be easy and will require an open mind.

National Alzheimer's Disease Awareness Month
Alzheimer's Association
225 North Michigan Avenue, 17th Floor
Chicago, IL 60601-7633
(800) 272-3900
(866) 699-1246
Materials available
Contact: None designated

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November is American Diabetes Month

The Healing Project cannot understate the magnitude of the diabetes epidemic. This is the most serious health problem impacting the US, if not the world. It is time to get this under control.

All About Diabetes

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life. The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors such as obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

There are 20.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 7% of the population, who have diabetes. While an estimated 14.6 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, unfortunately, 6.2 million people (or nearly one-third) are unaware that they have the disease.

American Diabetes Month
American Diabetes Association
1701 North Beauregard Street
Alexandria, VA 22311
(800) DIABETES (342-2383)
(703) 549-1500
(703) 549-6995 Fax
Materials available
Contact: Local Affiliates

For Information About Vision Related Diabetes Problems:
Diabetic Eye Disease Month
Prevent Blindness America
211 West Wacker Drive, Suite 1700
Chicago, IL 60606
(800) 331-2020
(847) 843-8458 Fax
Materials available
Contact: PBA Consumer and Patient Hotline

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

Lung Cancer research is terribly underfunded even though billions of dollars of taxes are taken every year from smokers. It is time that these funds are directed, as they were intended, to pay for healthcare. The Healing Project advocates a small portion of these funds be allocated to Lung Cancer research and diagnosis. This new funding would represent a leap in an order of magintude and bring this scourge to an end.

Lung Cancer Facts
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States.
Lung cancer causes 30% of all cancer deaths.
Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer among Caucasians, African-Americans, Asians and Hispanic males.
In 2007, an estimated 213,380 people were diagnosed with lung cancer and 160,390 died from it.

Lung cancer will kill more people this year than:
• breast cancer
• prostate cancer
• colon cancer
• liver cancer
• kidney cancer
• melanoma...combined

The 5-year survival rate for…
• Breast cancer has reached 88%
• Prostate cancer – 99%
• Colon cancer – 63%
• Lung Cancer – 15%!

Lung cancer will kill three times as many men as prostate cancer this year.
Lung cancer will kill nearly twice as many women as breast cancer this year.
Over 50% of new lung cancer cases will be diagnosed at a very late stage—Stage IIIb or IV— and only 5% of them will live for 5 years.
Current smokers represent 35-40% of new lung cancer cases.
Former smokers represent 50% of new lung cancer cases.
People who never smoked represent 10-15% of new lung cancer cases.
The rate of lung cancer among women has risen 60% since 1990.
Lung cancer surpassed breast cancer as the #1 cancer killer of women in 1987.
31,000 more women will die of lung cancer than breast cancer this year.
3 out of 5 patients diagnosed with lung cancer will die within 12 months.
Only 15% of lung cancer patients will be diagnosed early enough to survive for five years or more, compared with 5-year survival rates of 88% for breast cancer, 100% for prostate cancer, and 64% for colon cancer.
Despite lung cancer being the #1 cancer killer, roughly $1,800 is spent per lung cancer death compared to around $23,000 per breast cancer death for research!

The Thomas G. Labrecque Foundation
Joan's Legacy
Lung Cancer Alliance

Lung Cancer Awareness Month
Lung Cancer Alliance
1747 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 1150
Washington, DC 20006
(800) 298-2436 Lung Cancer Information Line
(202) 463-2080
Materials available
Contact: Kay Cofrancesco