Monday, July 28, 2008

Afflict the Comfortable

I submitted this article to the Forum at the Journal Star on July 3.

I was told that Mike Bailey, editor of the Opinion section, killed my article. I e mailed Mr. Bailey and asked him why he decided not to print my article. I also asked him what I could do to revise it to survive his review.

I never received a response.

"The job of a newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable."
--Finley Peter Dunne

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Face of Peoria Diocese Changing

The Peoria Catholic Post editorial on June 15, 2008 was titled “Face of Diocese Changing”. The article focused on the massive amount of construction that is occurring within the Peoria Diocese.

“As the sounds of construction echo this summer heralding wonderful, anticipated projects such as expanded Catholic Newman Centers at the University of Illinois and Illinois State University, the Milestone Project at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, and the Diocese of Peoria’s own pastoral center, we have another reminder that everything in this world is passing.”

Tom Dermody, editor of the Catholic Post, ends his article with, “The true face of this diocese will always be Jesus, gloriously the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Who can disagree with this last statement but it just did not seem to go along with the article.

I am sure Tom means well. However, the Publisher of the Post is Bishop Daniel Jenky and Tom isn’t naive.

I think that the "face of Jesus" would have been more real if the OSF Milestone Project, which is costing about $500 million dollars, were less expensive and more Haitian Hearts patients were alive today. OSF is turning away dying Haitian children while they construct the largest private construction project in Peoria history.

Much of the same issue of the Catholic Post concerns the poor of the world and programs like Catholic Charities and JustFaith. There was also an article regarding a Peoria diocesan priest and his two children who he supports in Mexico through the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (“We don’t see poverty. We see potential".) I wonder what OSF would say if this good priest tried to bring one or both of his “children” from Mexico for medical care?

The actions of the leaders of the OSF and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria seem to be opposite to many of the themes of the articles written about the poor in the Catholic Post. That can leave the laity confused.

I love Peoria Notre Dame High School. My family runs on the beautiful Mervyn Haycock Athletic Field track and we pass the football on the adjacent green soccer field. Both of these fields are next to the school. The other night two rainbows were in the sky and the moon was coming above the ND goal post as we played on these fields.

The Catholic Post’s top story on June 22, 2008 regarded a feasibility study planned to determine the level of financial support for the construction of a new Peoria Notre Dame High School to be built on donated land off Willow Knolls Road in north Peoria.

Do we really need a new Catholic High School in Peoria? I realize that the high school is more than just athletic fields, but is a new campus necessary?

The full construction cost for the proposed new facility is $60 million dollars. Tuition will most likely go up at the new facility. What about kids in the future that want to go to Notre Dame. Will their parents be able to afford it? Will they be able to find the new school on the north side of Peoria?

The article named and quoted a lady who had a positive reaction to building a new school. Interestingly, the article also stated that, “A man in attendance who asked not to be named expressed concerns about fundraising in the present economy, and noted area parishes with capital campaigns already under way or planned in the near future.”

Why do you think that the man wished to remain anonymous? Because he doesn’t want to publicly disagree with Bishop Jenky and other powerful people. I am sure he thinks that the school will be built and his public disagreement or caution would and could hurt him and his family. (Notre Dame has been working with the diocese on this project and has the blessing of the bishop.)

I have no doubts either that the new high school will be built and there will be many good aspects. But is the greater good served in Peoria with the construction of this school?

I have also seen Saint Joseph’s Home on Heading Avenue open in the 50’s and close in the early 2000’s. Old people are just not viewed the same as constructing a new $60 million dollar high school, Newman Centers in two cities, and a one-half billion dollar medical center expansion. And the elderly obviously did not have the support of Bishop Jenky.

My view is probably myopic. But I have seen up close and personal what OSF’s administrative philosophy and expansion efforts, backed by the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, have done to Haitian Hearts patients. Staring at the body of a young Haitian patient and friend of mine lying on the autopsy table is a sobering experience and made me realize how powerful and wrong OSF really is. He had been a patient at OSF but was denied care at OSF when he needed repeat heart surgery.

And with the support of the Diocese, OSF has partially forgotten why they were founded 130 years ago.

So big building projects scare me especially when the Catholic Diocese of Peoria and OSF are involved.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Peoria Public Transportation Provides Medical Transportation

I submitted the following article to the Journal Star Forum on July 3, 2008...several days before the Peoria City Council voted to allow the Peoria Fire Department to provide Paramedic services.

Journal Star Forum Article Submission:

A recent Journal Star article reported an accident in Peoria where a CityLink bus was rear ended by a car. According to the article, at least 13 people were "sent to the hospital" for evaluation. The accompanying photo showed the Peoria Fire Department (PFD) rescue firefighters caring for the injured bus passengers that they had placed on stretchers.

According to the article accident victims sat on the sidewalk waiting for additional Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) ambulances to arrive. The reason these people had to wait, is that the PFD is not allowed to transport emergency patients. The PFD had their own rescue vehicle several years ago but were not allowed to use it for transport…so they sold it.

What was not reported in the article was that AMT asked CityLink to help out. CityLink graciously sent a van and transported injured victims to the hospital.

Isn't this amazing when CityLink needs to transport patients who may have broken necks while the PFD cannot? And unless the policy has recently changed, if any of the bus accident victims were seriously injured at the crash scene, the PFD paramedics could not have provided paramedic support for the victims if AMT was not present.

As reported by the Journal Star a couple of years ago, when no other transport agency was quickly available, the Dunlap Fire Chief transported one of his own Dunlap firefighters who had lost consciousness at the scene of an emergency. To protect his firefighter, he had used common sense but crossed the powers that be who control our local Emergency Medical Services. Because of his action the Dunlap Fire Chief came very close to losing his job.

Something seems wrong here.

The paramedic and ambulance transport monopoly in Peoria, fueled by conflict of interest and the mighty dollar, is not patient friendly. This bus accident helps show Peoria is not ready for a more serious mass casualty.

John A. Carroll, M.D.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Finally, a Small Step...

The Peoria City Council voted unanimously last night to OK the new Peoria Fire Department contract.

See Journal Star article below.

For the first time ever, the Peoria Fire Department firefighters will be able to act as paramedics (without the oversight of Advanced Medical Transport) and provide advanced life support at the scene of a medical emergency.

Over the last few years the Peoria Medical Society told me that they did not see a need for this change to be made in Peoria, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria referred me to the Pope regarding Advanced Medical Transport and their "alleged monopoly" of local pre hospital care, and the OSF Corporate Ethics Committee and the OSF Compliance Officer refused to hear my concerns over this dangerous issue. And Dr. George Hevesy, who was receiving salaries from OSF-SFMC and Advanced Medical Transport when he was director of ambulances (Project Medical Director), told the Peoria City Council years ago that allowing the Peoria Fire Department to get involved with advanced life support was "duplication of services".

Many patients that have called 911 in Peoria and had to wait long periods of time for paramedic care probably would disagree with the above statements.

Obviously everything is not transparent here and OSF and their present Project Medical Director (who works under Dr. Hevesy in the OSF Emergency Department) had to agree with this policy improvement, or it would not have happened.

The Peoria Fire Department still cannot transport patients to local hospitals, so Advanced Medical Transport will not lose their income in transportation.

And most importantly many patients will be treated earlier when precious minutes can mean the difference between life and death. Too bad this common sense decision took so many years to occur.

By John Sharp
of the Journal Star
Posted Jul 07, 2008 @ 10:04 PM

PEORIA — The City Council will vote on a three-year contract that affects 198 Peoria fire union employees tonight, less than 24 hours after the union had a chance to ratify it.

Mike Morrow, vice president of Fire Fighters Local 50, said Monday that union members were voting on the contract throughout the day and evening. A final vote would not be known until early this morning.

The union leadership recommended approval of the contract, which covers the period of Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2010.

"We anticipate ratification by the union," said Kimberly King, a city attorney who participated in negotiations between the union and the city. "The negotiations really did go well in terms of folks being reasonable on their requests."

Major contractual provisions include the following:

- Wage increases of 3 1/2 percent each year retroactive to Jan. 1.

- The establishment of Advanced Life Support (ALS) engine companies at two stations in the north end of the city.

According to the city, there will be a 2 percent paramedic pay incentive given whenever a union member becomes ALS licensed by the state. The incentive pay is limited to 16 paramedics on staff. Fire Chief Kent Tomblin said there are about 10 union members who are certified.

King said having two ALS engine companies allows firefighters who respond to emergency calls to be better equipped to handle a "higher level of medical support to a distressed individual" before Advance Medical Transport (AMT) arrives.

Right now, firefighters trained as paramedics provide basic life support services, King said. She said there are no engine companies directly assigned for this type of emergency service.

- New firefighters' starting salary will remain $43,427, although the pay steps will change. It takes a union member eight years before topping out on the salary pay schedule, Tomblin added.

"It's a very good contract," he said.

Morrow said he will be able to comment more about the contract after the union's vote.

The contract is the result of six to seven months of negotiations. Local 50 members had about two weeks to review the agreement before Monday's ratification vote.

John Sharp can be reached at 686-3282 or

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