• Health Policy in Oregon -Doing Better

    Yesterday I attended a meeting of the Archimedes Movement at the Oregon Convention Center: “Health Care Quality, Safety & Reform: From TV to real life, an interactive consumer exchange”

    In the afternoon we broke into groups and envisioned answers to this question: Being as specific as possible, what would health care look like in some perfect future?

    It is a lot easier to complain that something sucks, and proclaim that our system shouldn’t be this way. It’s much more difficult to get specific and say, “I want my health care to: ______________.”

    The group of folks I was with came up with some familiar sounding requests:

    What People Want in Health Care

    • Resources to care when they are sick (aside from the emergency room)
    • Access to their own medical information
    • Early intervention available from a doctor who knows them
    • All members of society to be valued to receive care — they want compassionate care for people in crisis
    • Specific individualized education, not just about how to not be sick, but about how to be well.

    Some of the more interesting conversations for me were around these two topics:

    Integrated services (health and education and the food supply system, all with the same goals)

    One of the women in my group, someone who was an immigrant and works in social services for immigrants said,

    “Teach low income people to prepare low income meals that will be nutritious. People end up using food stamps to buy pop and other sweets. They do not know how to eat well, immigrants have never seen the kind of food that is available to them here, they do not know how to adjust. Do not allow people to buy pop with food stamps. Teach people who are immigrating — give them two months of education about how to eat for wellness.”

    Another woman who was an administrator in Portland public schools said,

    “We need more education about food and nutrition and healthy lifestyles on all levels: schools, media, physicians’ offices. We need all populations to have adequate access to produce and fresh foods. We can be teaching people to take care of gardens through participation in community gardens where people can grow the healthy food for themselves.”

    Aging and the medicalization of the aging process: An aging population is stressing the system. If we don’t address the cultural component of the fear of and refusal to accept natural aging, the system will break. Other sentiments expressed were:

    “Let’s look at life as more of a cycle and understand the big picture of health and care for all. Sort out what is normal. For example, look at how much money has gone into the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer treatment that has not been effective.”

    “We need access to information about what is really effective [in terms of health care] and what is to be expected as we age.”

    Many other interesting conversations were had throughout the well-organized day. Kudos to Liz Baxter and Julie Magers for putting it together. Further reports on this subject will be found in the coming weeks on The Archimedes Movement website.

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