Thursday, December 22, 2011


Ten years ago last week my relationship with OSF-SFMC ended. It was really a shame for so many reasons. I had worked at OSF for twenty years and really believed in the Sister's Mission. I just loved the place.

I wrote this letter to OSF-SFMC CEO Keith Steffen in September, 2001.

As the letter and post explains, I was worried about the safety of the patients in the OSF-SFMC Emergency Department. In my opinion, the patients were waiting too long in the Emergency Department to be admitted to the hospital.

I was put on probation the day after I wrote the letter. Mr. Steffen told me that "when you have a cancer somewhere, you need to cut it out before it spreads". And over the next several months (October and November, 2001) Mr. Steffen would smile, look down, and say to me "when this comes out about you, John, it won't be good." He was obviously up to no good while both the Emergency Department patient satisfaction and employee satisfaction were the worst at OSF.

Five years ago Mr. Steffen stated in the Journal Star that the Emergency Department would be expanded because OSF was seeing 62,000 patients per year in SFMC-Emergency Department that was built to see 32,000 patients. The entire patient waiting problem was not just the Emergency Department over crowding. The hospital was poorly run and rooms were not available to accept sick Emergency Department patients who needed admission in a timely fashion.

The article below, published in Academic Emergency Medicine in 2011, describes how patient mortality and hospital length of stay increases when patients are kept ("boarded") in the Emergency Department for prolonged periods of time.

Now in 2011 "Occupy America" is a big thing. The 99% are saying that the 1% have not done things in a moral way.

And nurses unions around the country are striking for the same reasons. The nurses worry about patient care being poor due to corporate greed. This is not really "news" but is spoken about more openly now than it was a decade ago.

This is what happened at OSF in my opinion. Emergency Department patients just didn't count compared to OSF's bottom line.

Please see article below.

Acad Emerg Med. 2011; 18(12):1324-9 (ISSN: 1553-2712)

Singer AJ ; Thode HC ; Viccellio P ; Pines JM

From the Department of Emergency Medicine, Stony Brook University (AJS, HCT, PV), Stony Brook, NY; the Department of Emergency Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine, and the Department of Health Policy, George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Sciences (JMP), Washington, DC.

Objectives:  Emergency department (ED) boarding has been associated with several negative patient-oriented outcomes, from worse satisfaction to higher inpatient mortality rates. The current study evaluates the association between length of ED boarding and outcomes. The authors expected that prolonged ED boarding of admitted patients would be associated with higher mortality rates and longer hospital lengths of stay (LOS).

Methods:  This was a retrospective cohort study set at a suburban academic ED with an annual ED census of 90,000 visits. Consecutive patients admitted to the hospital from the ED and discharged between October 2005 and September 2008 were included. An electronic medical record (EMR) system was used to extract patient demographics, ED disposition (discharge, admit to floor), ED and hospital LOS, and in-hospital mortality. Boarding was defined as ED LOS 2 hours or more after decision for admission. Descriptive statistics were used to evaluate the association between length of ED boarding and hospital LOS, subsequent transfer to an intensive care unit (ICU), and mortality controlling for comorbidities.

Results:  There were 41,256 admissions from the ED. Mortality generally increased with increasing boarding time, from 2.5% in patients boarded less than 2 hours to 4.5% in patients boarding 12 hours or more (p < 0.001). Mean hospital LOS also showed an increase with boarding time (p < 0.001), from 5.6 days (SD ± 11.4 days) for those who stayed in the ED for less than 2 hours to 8.7 days (SD ± 16.3 days) for those who boarded for more than 24 hours. The increases were still apparent after adjustment for comorbid conditions and other factors.

Conclusions:  Hospital mortality and hospital LOS are associated with length of ED boarding. ACADEMIC EMERGENCY MEDICINE 2011; 18:1324-1329 © 2011 by the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

New York Nurses May Strike

The New York Times reports tonight that thousands of registered nurses in three New York City hospitals may go on strike.

[The nurses, who voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike, say they are being disrespected by a corporate hospital culture that demands sacrifices from patients and those who provide their care, but pays executives millions of dollars. Management officials defend executive pay as the price of competition for top leadership, and accuse the nurses of refusing what many other American workers have accepted: paying a share of their health insurance premiums, along with higher co-payments, deductibles and prescription costs.]

I would hate to see more patient deaths due to a nursing strike and that is what could happen. If you are really sick, you better have a skilled and caring nurse.

The execs at OSF-Corporate in Peoria are paid immense salaries. And OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center Keith Steffen told me that if nurses want to leave OSF that is fine with him. Something seems very wrong headed here.

There is no nurses union at OSF in Peoria. Steffen has strongly discouraged one from forming. And I thought the Catholic Church would support a nurses union in Peoria...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

George is Out

Dr. George Hevesy was voted out as Chairman of the Emergency Department at OSF in Peoria.

There are about thirty attending physicians who work in the ED now and their vote several months ago was not even close. Dr. Dick Frederick became the new Chairman.

Dr. Hevesy is still the Director of the Emergency Department. This is an appointed position by OSF Administration. So Keith Steffen, CEO at OSF, still supports George even though George's fellow colleagues overwhelmingly do not. This vote of no confidence in George was a long time coming. However, as I have documented many times in this blog and in Peoria's Medical Mafia, fear plays a big role in how things are done at OSF.

There were many reasons why George fell from his position. The Sisters have been protected from knowing too much about their own hospital, which is a shame. I think OSF Administration knows much about the concept of "plausible deniability" and understands how to use it effectively to keep the Sisters in the dark.

Dr. Hevesy is no longer EMS Director at OSF, but due to the fact that he is still Director of the ED, he controls the physician who is EMS Medical Director in his department. Peoria Area EMS, based at OSF, has about 60 agencies which they control. Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) is one of these agencies. And AMT is the only paramedic/transport agency in Peoria. Dr. Hevesy still receives a handsome salary from AMT and from OSF.

It won't be long before Dr. Hevesy is no longer Director of the ED at OSF. His utility at OSF is diminishing.

Keith Steffen, CEO at OSF, doesn't have much time left at OSF either. Keith, my unsolicited advice for you is to ditch George as Emergency Department Director while you still have the chance. No one will think worse of you...

In my opinion if Peorians knew the real details at our Catholic hospital both men would have been gone long ago.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Doing the Ethical Thing

Photo by John Carroll

From the New York Times--November 19, 2011:

Here’s another way we deceive ourselves. Most of us say we admire people who stand up for what’s right (or what is eventually shown to be right), especially when they are strong enough to stick to their guns in the face of strenuous opposition.

But again, research shows that’s not necessarily true. In “When Groups are Wrong and Deviants are Right,” published last year in The European Journal of Social Psychology, Australian academics argue that group members are often hostile to people who buck conformity, even if the members later agree with the dissenter.

Even when, say, a whistle-blower may prove to be correct, she is not always admired or accepted back into the fold, the academics found. Rather, the group may still feel angry that the whistle-blower damaged its cohesion.

Philip G. Zimbardo, professor emeritus of psychology at Stanford University and author of numerous books including, “The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil” (Random House, 2007), has spent a lifetime studying moral degradation. In 1971, Professor Zimbardo set up the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment, where the college student “guards” turned sadistic in a very short time, denying food, water and sleep to the student “prisoners,” shooting them with spray from fire extinguishers and stripping them naked.

Professor Zimbardo has classified evil activity in three categories: individual (a few bad apples), situational (a bad barrel of apples) or systemic (bad barrel makers).

“The majority of people can get seduced across the line of good and evil in a very short period of time by a variety of circumstances that they’re usually not aware of — coercion, anonymity, dehumanization,” he said. “We don’t want to accept the notion because it attacks our concept of the dignity of human nature.”

While it may be easy to give up in the face of such discouraging findings, the point, Professor Zimbardo and others say, is to make people conscious of what is known about how and why people are so willing to behave badly — and then use that information to create an environment for good.

Professor Zimbardo, for example, has established the Heroic Imagination Project. Already in some California schools, the project has students watch the Stanford Prison Experiment and similar ones about obedience to authority to teach how individuals can recognize the power of such situations and still act heroically.

He says he hopes to bring his project into the wider world of business and the military.

Although no one thinks it’s an easy task, Professor Zimbardo is not alone in his faith that people can be taught, and even induced, to do the right thing.

“I am a true believer that we can create environments to act ethically,” Professor Gino said. “It just might take a heavier hand.”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mobility in Society

Time magazine (November 14, 2011) has a good article on social mobility in society. They site education, technology, health care, and the market as some of the factors playing important roles.

Time concludes:

"A large body of academic research shows that inequality and lack of social mobility hurt not just those at the bottom, they hurt everyone. Unequal societies have lower levels of trust, higher levels of anxiety and more illness. They have arguably less stable economies: International Monetary Fund research shows that countries like the U.S. and the U.K. are more prone to boom-and-bust cycles. And they are ultimately at risk for social instability."

Saturday, November 5, 2011


A decade ago I started thinking that OSF in Peoria had lost its way.

I thought that money had become more important to the hospital than patients.

I was afraid that they would let my Haitian patients die, and they have. And I thought that the ambulance monopoly in Peoria served the high end CEO's, not the people of central Illinois.

Leslie Moore of Metamora, Illinois wrote this in the Forum of the Peoria Journal Star on November 5, 2011:

"Early criticism of the corporate business structure have been offered by prominent persons this way: Peorian Robert Ingersoll said, "Every man is dishonest who lives upon the labor of others, no matter if he occupies a throne." "

Today's New York Times columnist David Krugman writes on the difference between those who have and those who don't in our society. Krugman feels that this difference is very dangerous to our society.

Please see the following few paragraphs from Krugman:

The budget office report tells us that essentially all of the upward redistribution of income away from the bottom 80 percent has gone to the highest-income 1 percent of Americans. That is, the protesters who portray themselves as representing the interests of the 99 percent have it basically right, and the pundits solemnly assuring them that it’s really about education, not the gains of a small elite, have it completely wrong.

If anything, the protesters are setting the cutoff too low. The recent budget office report doesn’t look inside the top 1 percent, but an earlier report, which only went up to 2005, found that almost two-thirds of the rising share of the top percentile in income actually went to the top 0.1 percent — the richest thousandth of Americans, who saw their real incomes rise more than 400 percent over the period from 1979 to 2005.

Who’s in that top 0.1 percent? Are they heroic entrepreneurs creating jobs? No, for the most part, they’re corporate executives. Recent research shows that around 60 percent of the top 0.1 percent either are executives in nonfinancial companies or make their money in finance, i.e., Wall Street broadly defined. Add in lawyers and people in real estate, and we’re talking about more than 70 percent of the lucky one-thousandth.

But why does this growing concentration of income and wealth in a few hands matter? Part of the answer is that rising inequality has meant a nation in which most families don’t share fully in economic growth. Another part of the answer is that once you realize just how much richer the rich have become, the argument that higher taxes on high incomes should be part of any long-run budget deal becomes a lot more compelling.

The larger answer, however, is that extreme concentration of income is incompatible with real democracy. Can anyone seriously deny that our political system is being warped by the influence of big money, and that the warping is getting worse as the wealth of a few grows ever larger?

Some pundits are still trying to dismiss concerns about rising inequality as somehow foolish. But the truth is that the whole nature of our society is at stake.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Crony Capitalism (Updated)

William Cellini from Springfield was found guilty last week in a courtroom in Chicago. It is the same courtroom that ex-Governor Blagojevich was found guilty in a couple of months ago.

The Peoria Journal Star had this editorial on the Cellini conviction.

I am sure Cellini has well heeled supporters not only in Springfield and Chicago but in Peoria too. See this article in the Peoria Journal Star.

And John Kass, the Tribune columnist has been following friendships from Peoria with Cellini for several years. See this Kass column too which was written last week after Cellini was found guilty.

Michelle Malkin is kind of rough on our leadership and its love of crony capitalism also.

Did ex-Governor Blagojevich's 400 million dollar loan from the Illinois Finance Authority to OSF in Peoria happen because he was so interested in health care in Peoria? In retrospect, it does not seem like Blago did much of anything for "free".

The entire lot of them--Blago, Rezko, Levine, Cellini, and others closer to home do seem pathetic now. But the Illinois taxpayer has been burned.

The article below by Michael Tarm/The Associated Press is about Tony Rezko trying to get out of prison.


November 3, 2011


A convicted political fixer and onetime fundraiser for impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich wants a federal judge to set him free at his sentencing hearing later this month, arguing that he has already served more time awaiting sentencing — and under harsh conditions — than others convicted in related schemes have or expect to.

Tony Rezko — once described by prosecutors as "the man behind the curtain, pulling the strings" in Blagojevich's administration — has spent much of his more than 3 1/2 years in jail in solitary, rarely getting fresh air and subject to a diet that has resulted in him losing 80 pounds, according to a defense filing unsealed Thursday.

"With his dramatic weight loss, Mr. Rezko has shrunk from a robust, somewhat overweight man to a frail and gaunt shell of his former self," the filing says.

In arguing for a sentence of time served, the document insists the 56-year-old Rezko accepts responsibility for his wrongdoing. But it also hastens to suggest Rezko didn't engage in criminality on his own initiative but at the urging of Blagojevich and his other confidants.

"When Mr. Rezko stepped across the proverbial line, he did so at the direction of Rod Blagojevich, he did so with the knowledge and encouragement of Blagojevich's closest advisers," it says, adding Rezko was "shocked" when the newly elected governor asked him to explore ways to profit from his state decisions.

Rezko's name was mentioned frequently during Blagojevich's initial trial and his retrial, which ended with a jury convicting the ousted governor of corruption including trying to sell or trade President Barack Obama's old Senate seat. Blagojevich's sentencing was postponed and a new date hasn't been set.

Rezko also raised campaign funds for Obama, who has never been accused in the case of any wrongdoing. The filing also notes Rezko's past connection to Obama.

The sympathetic portrayal of Rezko in the defense filing as a family man and eager philanthropist contrasts with the picture painted by prosecutors at his trial of a ruthless schemer with no qualms about using his access to the levers of power for personal profit.

A jury convicted Rezko in 2008 on 16 of 24 corruption counts, including fraud for scheming to squeeze campaign contributions or kickbacks from firms seeking state business. Several counts carry maximum terms of 20 years.

Rezko's sentencing before U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve is set for Nov. 22. Prosecutors are expected to offer their own recommended sentence in a court filing within a matter of days.

More than a dozen co-conspirators have been convicted since authorities launched an investigation of the Democratic governor's administration nearly a decade ago. Most never went to trial, choosing to cut plea deals that call for drastically reduced prison terms.

Rezko's lawyers singled out co-conspirator Stuart Levine, who pleaded guilty to money laundering and fraud. He agreed to testify against Rezko in exchange for a recommended prison term of 5 1/2 years. He has been free on bond as he awaits sentencing.

"Mr. Rezko has already served nearly as much time in jail as will one of the most despicable career fraudsters ever to darken the halls of the federal building," the filing said about Levine.

The crimes Levine pleaded guilty to, the filing continues, are a fraction of the crimes the former state board member has actually admitted to — most of which Rezko played no role in. Levine has admitted to abusing illegal drugs over three decades, the document adds.

Even though he wasn't asked to testify at any either of Blagojevich's two trials, Rezko's lawyers say he had been more than willing to. They say in the filing that Rezko provided enough detail to investigators of wrongdoing in Blagojevich's administration to fill 360 pages.

St. Eve delayed an October sentencing date for Rezko to avoid a conflict with the trial of businessman and political powerbroker William Cellini. He was convicted this week of conspiring with Rezko and two others in 2004 to extort a Hollywood producer for a $1.5 million campaign donation to Blagojevich.

A notice on the court's website did not say why St. Eve decided this week to unseal the defense filing, which was submitted in September. But she issued the order just one day after Cellini's trial ended.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Two More Haitian Hearts Patients to the Dominican Republic

Last year, while working at Hopital Lumiere in Bon Fin, I examined a number of patients with heart problems.

One of the heart patients was three year old Charles. He had a loud systolic murmur over his upper left sternal border and he was anemic.

I sent Charles and his mother to Port-au-Prince with a check from Haitian Hearts to obtain a formal echocardiogram.

Charles echo showed that he has severe pulmonary stenosis with a gradient across the valve of 80 mm Hg. This valve could be opened in the cath lab with a balloon or, if necessary, by an open surgical procedure to expand the valve area.

The second patient was seven year old Naika. She weighed 33 pounds.

Naika had a loud "wash machine" type murmur all over her chest. Her chest x-ray revealed a large heart due to too much blood circulation through a large congenital heart defect called "patent ductus arteriosus".

Haitian Hearts sent Naika to the capital too and her echocardiogram confirmed this diagnosis. Her lesion could possibly be closed in the cath lab as well, or she could have an open procedure without needing bypass. But she definitely needed a procedure because she is in volume overloaded heart failure.

So now what was I supposed to do?

Both of these kids are good surgical candidates and both deserve surgery. But they live deep in rural Haiti, have no money, and OSF administration in Peoria definitely will not accept these kids from Haitian Hearts. Charles and Naika are not covered by OSF's Catholic Mission Philosophy even though it states that OSF will turn no one away regardless of race, religion, or ability to pay. (Haitian Hearts would offer $10,000 for each case.)

So I wrote their names down on my Haitian Hearts "master list", brought their echocardiograms and chest x-rays back to Peoria with me, and kept my eyes and ears open for medical centers that may accept them.

Amazingly, this spring, Chadasha Foundation contacted Haitian Hearts and asked if we had any Haitian kids that needed heart surgery! We always have a "bunch" of babies, toddlers, kids, teenagers, and young adults who need surgery.

Well, Charles and Naika, are on their way this week to the Dominican Republic for heart surgery.

Many thanks to Angela, Chris, Clint, Judy, Gettie, and Miss Beth for helping make this happen.

Exterior Authority

"From the day when the first members of councils placed exterior authority higher than interior, that is to say, recognized the decisions of men united in councils as more important and more sacred than reason and conscience; on that day began lies that caused the loss of millions of human beings and which continue their unhappy work to the present day."

Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sobering Statistics

Haiti: A History of Poverty and Poor Health

Haiti has extremely poor health indices. The life expectancy at birth is 61 years (9), and the estimated IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) is 64 per 1,000 live births, the highest in the Western Hemisphere. An estimated 87 of every 1,000 children born die by the age of 5 years (9), and >25% of surviving children experience chronic undernutrition or stunted growth (10). Maternal mortality rate is 630 per 100,000 live births (10).

Haitians are at risk of spreading vaccine-preventable diseases, such as polio and measles, because childhood vaccination coverage is low (59%) for polio, measles-rubella, and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccines (9). Prevalence of adult HIV infection (1.9%) and tuberculosis (312 cases per 100,000 population) in the Western Hemisphere is also highest in Haiti (11,12), and Hispaniola, which Haiti shares with the Dominican Republic, is the only Caribbean island where malaria remains endemic (13).

Only half of the Haitian population has access to health care because of poverty and a shortage of health care professionals (1 physician and 1.8 nurses per 10,000 population), and only one fourth of seriously ill persons are taken to a health facility (14). Before the earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010, only 63% of Haiti’s population had access to an improved drinking water source (e.g., water from a well or pipe), and only 17% had access to a latrine (15).

Emerging Infectious Diseases

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Emergency Room Reflects Your Hospital and Community

New England Journal of Medicine
June 16, 2011

"The ER is more than a hospital department. It's a “room with a view” of our health care system.5 The quickest way to assess the strength of a community's public health, primary care, and hospital systems is to spend a few hours in the emergency department. If public health is under-resourced, you will see more patients with vaccine-preventable illnesses, smoking-related health problems, preventable injuries, and foodborne diseases than you otherwise would.

If primary care is fragmented or weak, the ER's waiting room will be full of patients with problems that should have been prevented or treated by primary care providers.

If the hospital's administration is not adept at managing the flow of patients, the ER's exam rooms, resuscitation bays, and hallways will be packed with ill and injured patients, many of whom were stabilized and admitted hours earlier but now have nowhere to go."

Hospitals Put Emergency Department Patients at Risk

Ten years ago at OSF-SFMC in Peoria I thought my Emergency Room (ER) patients were at risk. I thought the system was stacked with elective admissions who were trumping my sick patients waiting in the ER.

See this article from Emergency Medicine News.

I thought that medicine had become more about business than taking care of patients.

This article, written by an academic surgeon in California, states the same. He lost his mother to the "system".

Friday, October 14, 2011

When You are Sick, Do You Want to be Checked by Your Provider or Your Doctor? And do you want to be the Consumer or the Patient?

See the paragraphs below from this weeks New England Journal of Medicine.

The words we use to explain our roles are powerful. They set expectations and shape behavior. This change in the language of medicine has important and deleterious consequences. The relationships between doctors, nurses, or any other medical professionals and the patients they care for are now cast primarily in terms of a commercial transaction. The consumer or customer is the buyer, and the provider is the vendor or seller. To be sure, there is a financial aspect to clinical care. But that is only a small part of a much larger whole, and to people who are sick, it's the least important part.

The words “consumer” and “provider” are reductionist; they ignore the essential psychological, spiritual, and humanistic dimensions of the relationship — the aspects that traditionally made medicine a “calling,” in which altruism overshadowed personal gain. Furthermore, the term “provider” is deliberately and strikingly generic, designating no specific role or type or level of expertise.

Each medical professional — doctor, nurse, physical therapist, social worker, and more — has specialized training and skills that are not recognized by the all-purpose term “provider,” which carries no resonance of professionalism. There is no hint of the role of doctor as teacher with special knowledge to help the patient understand the reasons for his or her malady and the possible ways of remedying it, no honoring of the work of the nurse as a nurturer with unique expertise whose close care is essential to healing. Rather, the generic term “provider” suggests that doctors and nurses and all other medical professionals are interchangeable. “Provider” also signals that care is fundamentally a prepackaged commodity on a shelf that is “provided” to the “consumer,” rather than something personalized and dynamic, crafted by skilled professionals and tailored to the individual patient.

When we ourselves are ill, we want someone to care about us as people, not as paying customers, and to individualize our treatment according to our values. Despite the lip service paid to “patient-centered care” by the forces promulgating the new language of medicine, their discourse shifts the focus from the good of the individual to the exigencies of the system and its costs. Marketplace and industrial terms may be useful to economists, but this vocabulary should not redefine our profession. “Customer,” “consumer,” and “provider” are words that do not belong in teaching rounds and the clinic. We believe doctors, nurses, and others engaged in care should eschew the use of such terms that demean patient and professional alike and dangerously neglect the essence of medicine.

Friday, September 30, 2011


Photo by John Carroll

New York Times
David Brooks
September 30, 2011

"Nobody is against empathy. Nonetheless, it’s insufficient. These days empathy has become a shortcut. It has become a way to experience delicious moral emotions without confronting the weaknesses in our nature that prevent us from actually acting upon them. It has become a way to experience the illusion of moral progress without having to do the nasty work of making moral judgments. In a culture that is inarticulate about moral categories and touchy about giving offense, teaching empathy is a safe way for schools and other institutions to seem virtuous without risking controversy or hurting anybody’s feelings."

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Poverty in Peoria

Photo by John Carroll

From the Peoria Journal Star, September 2011--

About 19,000 Peorians, or 18 percent of the city's population, live below the poverty line, according to statistics released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

That includes about 11,000 blacks, or 38 percent of the city's black population, and nearly 1,500 Latinos, or about 25 percent.

Almost 24 percent of all children in the city live in poverty.

Here are some other statistics for the city:

- 27 percent of families received some type of public assistance last year.

- 21 percent of families with children are in poverty.

- 44 percent of unmarried women who live alone with children fall under the poverty line.

While the statistics are alarming, they also come with a high margin of error because of the sample size and the way the Census Bureau conducted its survey last year. However, the numbers still fall in line with national averages.

"Even with the margin of error, Peoria still has a high number of people who live in poverty. This year's data looks to be that one in five people in Peoria are living in poverty," said Amy Rynell, the director of Heartland Alliance's Social IMPACT Research Center, a private Chicago-based think tank that studies social issues. "Not only is there is a large number of people living in poverty but there is a growing number of people who are living at half poverty rate."

Meg Newell, a spokeswoman for the South Side Mission, sees it every day.

"The human side, for us, that people who never thought that they would be in that position are now in that position. People who five years ago were supporting our food pantry, who were buying extra at the grocery store to donate, are now our customers," Newell said.

She points to the 10 percent increase in food baskets distributed by the mission this year. In 2011 so far, the mission has passed out 4,918 baskets, compared to the 4,433 baskets during the same time period in 2010.

The numbers come from the annual American Community Survey, which is the Census Bureau's effort to keep track of yearly trends by surveying only about 2 percent of the population and then extrapolating estimates from there.

As such, the bureau only provides detailed information for cities and counties with populations of more than 65,000, meaning areas like Woodford County, East Peoria or Pekin would not have any detailed information.

The numbers released Thursday also state the obvious: Those who have less education and poor work history tend to fall below the poverty line.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Long Defeat

I posted this and this on the Peoria Journal Star website.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Jenny Still Survives


(Photo by John Carroll--September 5, 2011)

Jenny had heart surgery at OSF-SFMC in Peoria in 1999. At nineteen years of age she looked like a victim from Auschwitz before her heart surgery.

I have been treating her in Haiti for over a decade since her surgery in Peoria. Haitian Hearts has provided her with medication, echocardiograms, and money in Haiti.

Jenny needs more heart surgery, but OSF-SFMC won't take her back. I gave OSF-Children's Hospital of Illinois a check for $23,000 dollars before her surgery in 1999. (All the physicians did pro-bono work.)

Other medical centers believe she is OSF's medical and ethical responsibility. And she is.

Jenny has survived tropical storms, hurricanes, kidnappings, heart failure, a biblical earthquake (she was living in a car), and poverty.

However, I don't think she will survive the greed and power of our Catholic hospital in Peoria.

Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Nuns a "Dying Breed" at Catholic Hospitals

(Photo by John Carroll)

See this article from the New York Times.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with the Times article.

I watched as the Sisters at OSF in Peoria lost control of their medical center and I also watched my Haitian Hearts patients die.

It is a shame for the patients who suffer the most as power and greed take over. Money is more important than lives.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Luckner Accepted for Heart Surgery!

See this post from the Peoria Journal Star website.

Haitian Hearts Patient Operated in the Dominican Republic

This is Kewine.

I examined Kewine for the first time in June, 2010.

Kewine was living in a tent in Carrefour, just outside of Port-au-Prince.

She was born with a Ventricular Septal Defect. This is a hole between the lower chambers of the heart that allows blood to go in the wrong direction.

Kewine was operated in the Dominican Republic in June, the hole in her heart was patched, and she is now back in Haiti.

Her mother is very happy with the results.

And so are we.

Thank you to EVERYONE involved in Kewine's care.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

When Hospital Crowding Leads to Emergency Department Overcrowding

During the last few years that I worked at OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, I thought that patients were not treated fairly in the Emergency Department. Patients were waiting for hours in the Emergency Department to be admitted to the hospital. We were "boarding" patients and that was dangerous for them.

I talked with Dr. Rick Miller, the Medical Director of the Emergency Department, many times during the 90's about the dysfunction in the Emergency Department. Miller was afraid of OSF-SFMC President and CEO Keith Steffen and did not adequately support the rights of his patients or his staff in the Emergency Department.

Patient and employee satisfaction in the OSF Emergency Department was the worst in the Medical Center in 2001.

The decision was made to relieve Dr. Miller of his duties as ED Medical Director in 2001 and to replace him with Dr. George Hevesy on August 1, 2001.

Dr. Hevesy was director of EMS in the Peoria area for many years and was on the salary of Advanced Medical Transport and OSF-SFMC.

I wrote a letter to Mr. Steffen in September, 2001 and told him of my concerns regarding long and dangerous boarding times in the ED. I cc'd all of my attending partners in the Emergency Department including Drs. Hevesy and Miller.

I was placed on probation the next day by Dr. Hevesy for writing the letter.

In December, 2001 while working a Prompt Care shift at OSF, Dr. Hevesy showed up and told me, while I was seeing patients, that Mr. Steffen wanted me in his office. We walked to Mr. Steffen's office. The OSF lawyer, Mr. Douglass Marshall was present, and I was fired.

What Mr. Steffen put my family through in his office at OSF during the months before he fired me has been documented on Peoria's Medical Mafia. Clearly Mr. Steffen should not be in charge of the largest Catholic hospital in downstate Illinois.

Here is a great article in the New York Times regarding why hospital crowding occurs. And this leads to dangerous ED overcrowding.

I thought this was happening at OSF-SFMC ten years ago.

Here is one paragraph from this article:

The major challenge for any patient in the emergency room is a reimbursement system that offers little incentive to decrease crowding or minimize boarding. Hospitals prefer patients who come in electively for scheduled procedures, at least from a financial perspective. For one thing, they are far more likely to be well insured than those admitted through the emergency room. By boarding E.R. patients in crowded halls, hospitals can offer the required emergency care for all while minimizing the effect on their bottom lines.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011



This is Willie.

Willie is 23 years old now.

OSF denied Willie a new pacemaker when the pacemaker that was put in at OSF was failing a few years ago. When I examined Willie in Haiti, he had no get up and go due to the weak pacemaker. He would die unless we did something.

Haitian Hearts offered OSF full charges for a new pacemaker, but that didn't help. OSF still refused to care for Willie.

Haitian Hearts paid another well known children's hospital $5,000 and they gave Willie a new pacemaker right after their pediatric cardiologist examined him.

Willie is doing well.
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bishop Jenky and Notre Dame Take One on the Chin

Bishop Jenky and The Catholic Diocese of Peoria had quite a bit to do with eliminating Haitian Hearts patients from coming to Peoria's OSF.

Young Haitians who were operated at OSF in the 90's have died as I have documented numerous times on my blogs.

It is all very sad.

And now Bishop Jenky and his colleagues on the Board of Trustees at the University of Notre Dame look pretty sad.

Roxanne Martino, a newly appointed wealthy pro choice member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, just resigned this afternoon.

See this article in the Chicago Tribune.

I wonder what The Catholic Post in Peoria will report about this. Bishop Jenky is the publisher.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bishop Jenky and Notre Dame

See this article published in the National Catholic Register and the comments that follow.

I will explain soon how this is related to Haitian kids being denied medical care.

As always it is about power and money.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011


As the Desiderata, by Max Ehrmann says, “Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Calvin Coolidge in West Peoria Helps Haiti

See this article on WEEK-WHOI TV today.

Calvin Coolidge Grade School in West Peoria had an event today at Franciscan Park that raised 2,000 dollars for Haitian Hearts.

The funds will be used for the pediatric malnutrition program in Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince.

Haitian Hearts is very grateful for all of the kids efforts and for the very hard work of teacher Hedy Elliot-Gardner, Principal Blumer and the entire faculty and staff at Calvin Coolidge.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Friday, May 20, 2011

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Physicians Owned by Hospitals

"...most of us feel that any doctor who is an at-will employee of a hospital system fundamentally isn't working for his patients any longer but instead works for his boss (i.e., the guy that can fire him), whoever that may be. A doctor should not willingly put himself in any position where he can be fired by anyone but the patient. To practice medicine as an employee who can be terminated without cause is tantamount to a breach of medical ethics. You are simply giving too much control of your practice to someone who is not the doctor of your patients."

Nick Benton, MD
Emergency Medicine News
May, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hospital Negligence in the Emergency Department

See this article on emergency department crowding and the concern emergency department physicians have had about this for ten years.

I was concerned too.

Ten years ago I asked Keith Steffen, administrator of OSF-SFMC in Peoria, if OSF was guilty of "institutional malpractice" because of overcrowding in the Emergency Department at OSF. I thought that patient's lives were on the line in our overcrowded dysfunctional Emergency Department in Peoria.

And I doubt things are going just peachy in the Peoria EMS world. See this article from two years ago by Elaine Hopkins.

More on Peoria's EMS soon.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

All Three Girls


Photo by John Carroll

All three girls were really sick with heart problems.

All three girls had heart surgery.

And by the mercy of God, all three girls recovered fine.

Haitian Hearts thanks all of its supporters for helping all three girls.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Haitian Hearts Has Heart

Photo by John Carroll

See this article written by Pam Adams of the Peoria Journal Star.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Great Day in Haiti!


Photo by John Carroll
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Since the earthquake last year, I have been able to work about four months in hospitals and medical clinics in Haiti.

The majority of Haitian Hearts work in Haiti is spent examining common Haitian problems in Haitian medical centers staffed by Haitian doctors and nurses. These problems include malnutrition, parasitic infections, respiratory infections, diarrhea and dehydration, skin infections, malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, typhoid, and a wide variety of trauma.

During the course of a week it is not unusual to see a new pediatric heart patient.

During these four months I accumulated eight new heart patients with a wide variety of congenital and acquired cardiac defects who I considered reasonable candidates for evaluation for operative repair.

The kids are from Port-au-Prince and southern Haiti.

Their faces, their mom's faces, their exams, and their echocardiograms always haunt me as the days and weeks go by when Maria and I cannot find a medical center in the United States to accept them for surgery. I think I am on a chronic guilt trip when I know that most of these kids could easily be "cured" in the hands of a skilled and gentle heart surgeon.

Several months ago an organization e mailed Haitian Hearts and told us that they have a grant to operate on 400 Haitian and Dominican children's' hearts during the next five years. The surgeries will be performed by American and Dominican teams in the Dominican Republic.

And this organization wanted to know if I had any kids that needed surgery!

I answered back immediately and sent a clinical vignette of these eight Haitian Hearts patients. I also sent their VHS echocardiograms to this organization's cardiologist in the States.

I will call their cardiologist Dr. C.

Dr. C reviewed the echocardiograms and then flew to Haiti. He was in Haiti right after the return of President Aristide and during the weekend of the presidential elections (March 20, 2011).

To make it easier on the kids mothers, he rented a little plane and flew south from Port-au-Prince to Cayes and examined the kids that we had lined up to see him. ALL the kids were accepted by Dr. C to go to the Dominican Republic for heart surgery in early May!!

Thus, eight of the kids were accepted for heart surgery and when Dr. C arrived back in Port-au-Prince, he travelled to Cite Soleil and examined yet another Haitian Hearts patient, Dusousa.

Dusousa is the 17 month old toddler who is blind from cataracts and is in the malnutrition program in the back part of Soleil. Dr. C and an ophthalmologist examined Dusousa and, believe it or not, Dr. C's daughter who is an ophthalmologist, will operate Dusousa in the States!!

This is what I would call a gran coup d'etat in Haiti.

Thank you, Dr. C., for all of your efforts for these Haitian children.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Today Show, Widnerlande, and Haitian Hearts

Jenna Wolfe and Dana Roecker of the Today Show aired a segment on Widnerlande's long saga to come to the United States for heart surgery. Jenna and Dana are professional and did a wonderful job.

The Today Show segment aired on February 22, 2011.

You can see it here on the Haitian Hearts website.

Maria also posted an interesting article which described what happened "behind the scenes" regarding the Today Show.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

OSF Gobbles Up Some More

OSF Healthcare is affiliating with Rockford Health System.

The Peoria Journal Star reported this today.

See this article.

The new affiliation will be called the "OSF Northern Region".

With this new alliance, will Rockford Health Systems continue to offer oral contraceptives and sterilization procedures under the noses of BOTH Catholic bishops in Peoria and Rockford?

And will OSF Healthcare continue their embargo on their own Haitian Hearts patients who are dying in Haiti now because OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center will not allow them to return to OSF-Saint Franics Medical Center for repeat heart surgery? Will "OSF Northern Region" be part of this medical abandonment of poor Haitians?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

How Haiti Can Reclaim Sovereignty---This is a Good Article!

Photo by John Carroll

How Haiti can reclaim sovereignty

After decades of foreign interference, the decision to permit the returns of Duvalier and Aristide is an assertion of independence.

Landon Yarrington Thursday
3 February 2011

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide may be able to return from his exile in South Africa, after outgoing President René Préval apparently cleared the way for his former mentor to be issued with a diplomatic passport. Photograph: Str/AP
Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier returned to Haiti on Sunday 16 January, for the first time since being ousted from power in 1986, and his decision to return home has left many wondering. Rumours continue to circulate about what drew him home, but the question on many people's minds now is, for someone as high-profile as Baby Doc, why hasn't the Haitian government done more to bring him to justice?

In the year since the earthquake, the Haitian government has made a remarkable effort to demonstrate the rule of law. Last March, Laura Silsby and a handful of other Americans were indicted for a kidnapping scandal that drew international attention. More recently, Paul Waggoner, another US citizen, was incarcerated over allegations he kidnapped an injured earthquake victim. So why, people ask, hasn't the Haitian government taken the gloves off and handled Duvalier the same way they prosecuted Silsby and Waggoner?

A different reading on the matter, though, might suggest that justice for Baby Doc's crimes isn't the only issue at stake here.

Haitian sovereignty has been contested, both from within and without, since the country's independence in 1804. Throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, western meddling in Haitian affairs escalated to a number of flashpoints – chief among which was the US's own invasion of Haiti in 1915. During the 19-year US occupation, nearly every executive decision in Haiti was made "in consultation" with American commissioners, who were usually selected more for their business savvy rather than governmental acumen. The occupation ended in 1934 with a visit from FDR and implementation of his "good neighbour" policy, but Haiti has remained home to a substantial American military, diplomatic and aid presence ever since.

Over the past 20 years, non-government organisations (NGOs) have increased by the thousands. In fact, Haiti has the highest per capita NGO presence in the world – earning it the title "a nation of NGOs", emphasising the virtual substitution of the Haitian state by a non-profit Leviathan. With tens of thousands of non-state actors, the question of national sovereignty indeed looms large. Who runs Haiti? Is it the NGOs, the United Nations, or the government of Haiti?

In an effort to rein in the inflated NGO sector, the Haitian government instituted the ministry of planning and foreign coordination in 1989. NGOs working in Haiti must not only apply for 501(c)3 status in the US, but also register with the Haitian government and the MPCE. The process can be a lengthy one, involving frequent trips to the capital in Port-au-Prince, and is seen as a deterrent by many smaller groups – who ignore the system altogether. This is precisely what gets foreigners like Silsby and Waggoner in trouble.

For the thousands of unregistered groups who enter Haiti each year, theirs is a mission unbound by Haitian laws and "red tape". I met one of these groups in northern Haiti last November. Mission Discovery is a Christian organisation that specialises in short-term mission work in Jamaica, Kenya, Haiti and other countries in the global south. For a nominal fee, participants get to spend a week or two painting churches, providing ESL seminars, or, less frequently, hosting mobile clinics. While well-intentioned, mission work like this hinders real progress in impoverished areas – it's unsustainable, and unsustained – and tends to benefit the missionaries far more than the locals. Worse, it's unaccountable.

After a rainy night, I happened on a dozen American Mission Discovery travellers tossing candy to Haitian schoolchildren in a muddy street. Parents who were looking on were appalled as their children became covered in filth on account of these foreign missionaries. A friend and I went over to tell the missionaries how inappropriate and offensive their behaviour was. We learned it was their first trip to the area.

The clamour drew the attention of the town mayor. I told the missionaries it would be good for them to speak to the mayor, but they couldn't be bothered. Finally, I demanded they stop to introduce themselves. The two Mission Discovery leaders reluctantly agreed and greeted the mayor through an interpreter; the mayor, for his part, regretted not meeting the group sooner and asked why they hadn't tried to see him first.

This may not seem as outrageous to some readers, but consider the analogy a friend made. Imagine a team of Cuban doctors deciding, uninvited, to open a hospital in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, or a group of Canadian missionaries building an orphanage in New York after 11 September. How would the American public react to this? Would Americans interpret this as an act of saving grace – or an insulting violation of national sovereignty?

Interestingly, Haitians often say they are oblije, or compelled, to enter relationships with the thousands of registered and unregistered NGOs in their country. On one hand, they desperately need the services many of these groups provide; at the same time, they have no control over the terms or conditions according to which that "help" or "aid" gets doled out. It's a case of "beggars can't be choosers" writ large, and many Haitians feel they lose autonomy and pride in the whole exchange.

This is a scenario millions of Haitians encounter everyday, and the implications of it speak to the predicament the country now faces over Duvalier. The decision whether or not to prosecute Duvalier is an important synbolic way the Haitian government can assert sovereignty. Thus Haitian President René Préval has insisted charges will be brought: "Duvalier had the right to return to the country, but under the constitution he also must face justice." In other words, Duvalier is a Haitian first, an alleged criminal second. He belongs to Haiti as both citizen and offender. Duvalier's return offers the state a historic chance to pursue justice on its own terms and schedule, and in front of an international, if sceptical audience.

The same dynamic applies to ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, whose return to Haiti from exile in South Africa, many believe, would threaten political stability in the country. Préval is said to fear recrimination from Aristide, and has – until now – remained steadfast in denying him a chance to return, under pressure from France, Canada and the US, all of whom helped orchestrate his removal in the first place. Now, however, Préval is apparently offering his former mentor permission to come home.

One can only speculate why the Haitian government would even entertain the thought of allowing Duvalier or Aristide a homecoming, but it's clear the decision is Haiti's alone. Préval's actions toward the two former leaders make a powerful statement about Haitian sovereignty. More than Duvalier's fate or Aristide's possible reappearance now rides on whether Haiti can assert its independence. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Peoria's Emergency Response and the Heavy Snow Storm

The snippet below is from the Peoria Journal Star during the snowstorm that hit a couple of days ago.

It is interesting from the standpoint that Mr. Rand, Executive Director of AMT, is positioning his ambulance rigs with the Peoria Fire Department (PFD) during the blizzard.

For years Mr. Rand has been against the PFD advancing their life saving services for the people of Peoria and Mr. Rand did not want the PFD EVER to be a transport service for sick or injured patients. Mr. Rand and AMT have had the support of the Peoria's three hospitals which have hospital administrators on AMT's Board of Directors. AMT, hospital administrators, and the Project Medical Director (physician in charge of all ambulances in the area) have taken this issue to the Peoria City Council multiple times over the years to keep the ambulance transport monopoly in the hands of AMT and out of the hands of the PFD. (And the Project Medical Director actually received a salary from AMT for his services.)

Transportation of sick people is a profitable business, and with the help of the hospitals and the doctors that control ambulances in the area, AMT has been successful in keeping ALL of the transport for AMT.

Now, with the snow storm, AMT is bunking down with the PFD. The PFD still cannot transport patients and only one station can give advanced life support medications.

I believe Peorians are actually WORSE off in the blizzard because AMT is now not in their usual locations and will respond when the PFD does. The "divide and conquer" concept has been weakened. The PFD and AMT will arrive at the same time now (at least from four locations), and AMT will be the only agency in ALL of Peoria (except the North Adams Fire Department) allowed to give advanced life support medications or transport the patient.

What happens in times like this if the PFD is the FIRST to arrive at a home where there is a life threatening problem? In other words, if AMT is tied up somewhere else, what happens?

As usual, the PFD cannot administer advanced life support drugs (except the North Adams Station) and not a single PFD station can transport the patient anywhere. The patient us supposed to wait until AMT arrives...and sometimes patients do not have time to wait. They may be too sick and not have the luxury of even a few minutes.

These are hard concepts to understand. But AMT understands very well and so do the Peoria firefighters who face this situation every day with very sick and injured Peorians. But money is involved and so is conflict of interest in the Peoria business community.

And please see this article I wrote two years ago regarding the conflict of interest and monopoly of ambulance services in Peoria.

Here is the article from the Journal Star yesterday:

Ambulances get closer

In response to the storm, Advanced Medical Transport hired extra paramedics, technicians and dispatchers, and added more ambulances to its fleet to make sure residents get the help they need in case of an emergency.

"Let's just say we're kicking it up a notch everywhere," AMT's community relations director Sharon Kennedy said. "You want to have plenty of extra staff. People don't stop getting sick because of the weather. Babies don't stop being born because of the weather."

A first for the company is working with the Peoria Fire Department to place four of its ambulances strategically at fire stations throughout the city. Several more ambulances will be stationed at AMT's headquarters on Sterling Avenue to respond to calls of service from there.

"When they go on calls, they will be working in tandem with us," Kennedy said of the Fire Department personnel. "That's more hands to carry people if you have to shovel their driveway or walk. It will allow our vehicles to be clean of ice, and keep the engines warm and the cab warm for the crew members, as well as keep the back warm for any potential patients."

Housing the ambulances inside the firehouses also will help maintain medications and other drugs at safe temperatures. The ambulances are stationed in South Peoria, Central Peoria, North Peoria and Northwest Peoria.

"That's the first time we've done that," AMT Executive Director Andrew Rand said. "We think it'll be better for patients and certainly improve our response times. We'll be driving in fire truck tire tracks."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

OSF May Close Pharmacy that Dispenses Contraceptives

See this article in today's Peoria Journal Star.

A quick historical look at OSF’s contraceptive policy:

In the mid 90’s OSF Corporate in Peoria hired Catholic bioethicist Joe Piccione.

Mr. Piccione was hired by OSF to create a contraceptive policy that would allow OSF physicians to write prescriptions for oral contraceptives for patients. OSF was very concerned about losing money if their own OSF physicians could not write prescriptions for oral contraceptives.

So Mr. Piccione along with other OSF leaders met with The Catholic Diocese of Peoria and Bishop John Myers and “created” a new policy.

This policy allows OSF physicians to write oral contraceptives from an OSF office. But during the few moments the OSF physician is writing the prescription, he is not considered an OSF employee. And the second after the prescription is written, the physician is immediately reinstated as an OSF employee.

This sounds laughable and would be if it were not true. This policy still exists today for OSF physicians throughout the entire OSF Health Care System.

Mr. Piccione was quoted in the Peoria Journal Star in the mid-90’s that this anti-Catholic policy would “get our hands dirty”.

Why OSF wants to follow “ethical and religious directives” now in Galesburg is anyone’s guess.

GateHouse News Service
Posted Jan 26, 2011 @ 08:48 AM
Last update Jan 26, 2011 @ 08:08 PM


The pharmacy operated by Hy-Vee at OSF Galesburg Clinic will almost certainly close in March because of an argument over the sale of contraceptives.

If the lease is terminated OSF would not be allowed to bring a new pharmacy into the clinic for the next two years because of an existing agreement. A notice of termination has been given to Hy-Vee.

OSF recently took control of the clinic, which includes a pharmacy run by Hy-Vee. Jon McKee, a spokesman for OSF, said Hy-Vee's corporate office had not responded to efforts to negotiate a new agreement. McKee said OSF would like to see the Hy-Vee pharmacy remain in its current location.

However, employees at the pharmacy have been told it will close March 4. Hy-Vee spokeswoman Ruth Comer said Hy-Vee had an "ethical obligation" to fill prescriptions for contraceptives.

OSF is operated under Catholic ethical directives, which would not permit the sale of the oral contraceptives available at the pharmacy.

The health care group, which is owned by the Peoria-based Sisters of The Third Order of St. Francis, took control of the Galesburg Clinic on Oct. 31, renaming the facility OSF Galesburg Clinic.

Customers of the Galesburg Clinic Pharmacy contacted GateHouse News Service to express their discontent about the likely closure of the business.

Comer said all of the staff working at the Hy-Vee pharmacy at the clinic would be offered new posts.

She said Hy-Vee had had discussions with OSF about the pharmacy and that Hy-Vee was not prepared to back down from its position that it should be allowed to supply contraceptives to its customers.

"That's not acceptable to us as a condition," she said.

Comer said the lease for the pharmacy likely will be terminated in March. She said there had been no attempt by OSF to renew the lease agreement.

Please see this article written by my brother Tom and me in 2008.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Speed Bumps

Photo by John Carroll

January 24, 2011

Sacramento seems like a really nice city.

The fog in the morning is serene and beautiful and the illuminated white state capitol building at night is stunning.

Many of Sacramento's streets are wide and have "undulations". In the Midwest we call them "speed bumps". In Haiti these bumps are called "police lying down".

When we have been driving here, my seven year old son Luke likes to warn me from the back seat that we are approaching a speed bump. When he spots one, he will holler out “speed bump”, and I will slow down.

I then over-politely say "thank you" and he says "you are welcome" and giggles. This ritual can occur many times over several blocks in Sacramento and Maria seems to handle this “guy humor” quite well.

Yesterday, seven year old Widnerlande who was seated next to Luke in the back seat, would join in on the “speed bump” warnings and gleefully chime "you are welcome" when I thanked them for their warning.

This morning we all got up at 5 AM because Widnerlande’s heart surgery is being performed today.

On the way to Sutter Children's Center Widnerlande happily shouted out "speed bump" as we approached another undulation in Sacramento's dark streets.

To hear her little happy voice from the back seat made me sad. I knew that in several hours Widnerlande would experience another huge bump in her short life. But we needed to force her over it, even against her strong seven year old will.

This little girl has survived intense tropical storms, hurricanes, kidnappings, political unrest, a diabolical earthquake, and the deadly cholera that was infecting 4,000 people each week in her Haitian valley. And she survived malnutrition and poverty that we can barely understand.

And she did all this with a hole in her heart that has kept her in a state of semi-compensated congestive heart failure.

I calmed myself by rationalizing that she will be able to live through our surgical assault.

Widnerlande has passed many speed bumps in her life. And as she is lifted off the operating table this morning by many gentle hands, she will have more hurdles to pass during the next few days.

But we all know this girl will get over them some how.

Thank you, Maria and Valerie, Gertrude and Rachel and Joanna, Frandy and Jim and Jane, Garren, Tiffany and Representative Aaron Schock, Sutter Children’s Center nursing staff and child life specialists, and Drs. Nasirov, Juris, and Crockett, and Crystal, and Helen and Steven and Rose. And a special thanks to Widnerlande's fearless mother Magalene for keeping her close and keeping her alive against almost impossible odds in Haiti.


See this article and this article describing Widnerlande's situation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Should OSF-SFMC in Peoria Remain Catholic?

Photo by John Carroll
OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center Chapel, Peoria

OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria has not allowed their own Haitian Hearts patients from returning to Saint Francis Medical Center for heart surgery. Four have died.

This is not consistent with the social justice teachings of the Church. This is not consistent with the mission philosophy of OSF.

OSF has a contraceptive policy that is not consistent with the teachings of the Church. This policy was created by OSF's Catholic bioethicist and The Catholic Diocese of Peoria to allow OSF to remain competitive in the medical market place.

Should Bishop Jenky in Peoria allow OSF to remain a Catholic hospital? Should Bishop Jenky allow these scandals to continue in his Diocese? Catholic hierarchy does not like scandal.

Bishop Olmsted in Phoenix doesn't like scandal either.

See Bishop Olmsted's ruling on Saint Joseph's Medical Center in Phoenix.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Widnerlande to Sacramento

Read Pam Adams summary of the six year Widnerlande saga.

Widnerlande will have her appointment tomorrow in Sacramento and receive a pediatric echocardiogram to see if her ventricular septal defect warrants surgical repair.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Widnerlande Arrives in Peoria


After six years, five hurricanes and tropical storms, one devastating earth quake one year ago this afternoon, a severe cholera epidemic that still continues, and Haiti's usual political violence, seven year old Widnerlande arrived in Peoria this afternoon.
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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

With the Greatest Care and Love

Photo by John Carroll

The Peoria Journal Star had an article (advertisement) on the front page on Sunday. It was called "With the Greatest Care and Love".

The article provided a history of OSF from its beginning with the poor founding Sisters from Germany to the present day opulent medical center in Peoria.

Sister Judith Ann Duvall tries to assure Peoria that the Sisters are still in control of OSF through their governing boards. She is the chairperson of all the boards at OSF.

"We are deeply involved in the administration and governance of our health care system, and always will be," Duvall said, "because we came to religious life to give our lives to God by serving the sick, poor, injured, aged and dying 'with the greatest care and love.' "

If this is true, how can the Sisters reject Haitian Hearts patients that need surgery again at OSF. If Sister Judith Ann is "deeply involved in the administration and governance" of OSF, why is she letting OSF's Haitian Hearts patients die?

The Journal Star article then quotes president and CEO of OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center Keith Steffen. One has to stop shaking one's head long enough to read all of Mr. Steffen's scripted quotes:

"The Ministry Development program started by the Sisters allows us to reinforce our heritage as a Catholic, faith-based organization throughout OSF HealthCare system, all seven of our hospitals and our other entities," said Keith Steffen.

Mr. Steffen, who is not Catholic but likes his Catholic pay check, continues:

"Ministry development helps us promote and protect our identity in a society that challenges our Catholic ethical religious directives. It encourages a role of advocacy for the underprivileged, disenfranchised, and the poor, much as our founding Sisters did," Steffen said.

Mr. Steffen, of course, stopped Haitian Hearts patients coming to OSF through a missive from OSF's legal counsel, Douglass Marshall. Haitian Hearts has now lost three young Haitians who were operated at OSF but not allowed to come back to OSF for repeat surgery ten years later. (Two other young OSF patients in Haiti are literally clinging to life right now. Both have been homeless during part of 2010 after the earthquake which occurred one year ago tomorrow. Both have been denied repeat heart surgery at OSF.)

But OSF did build their 280 million dollar Milestone Project during the last decade which includes a bright shiny new Children's Hospital of Illinois that is open to anyone-- unless one is an OSF Haitian Hearts patient.

So, I think OSF speaks with forked tongue with the Journal Star being their main messenger to the public.

OSF will change for the better some day. But it won't be tomorrow. OSF is embedded too well in Peoria and who wants to challenge the nuns? They can't be wrong, can they?

OSF's Problems Continue

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Photos by John Carroll
OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center
January 10, 2010

Leona Deemie, pictured above, states that she was abused as a child at St. Francis Hospital when she was hospitalized with polio.

OSF offered her $17,000 dollars and the gag order which would have prevented her from speaking about her abuse or the settlement.

Leona refused the money and terms from OSF.

When I talked with Sister Judith Anne about very important issues in 2001, Sister was unable to find the courage to talk with a nurse that would have told her the truth. I felt then, as I do now, that Sister was advised not to hear the truth because so many people at the top of OSF would be culpable.

So Sister is taking the same approach with Leona Deemie ten years later. Unfortunately, she listens to her counsel and not her conscience. And OSF is suffering greatly.

And so are OSF's Haitian Hearts patients who have been neglected by OSF and have died.

See this news report on what happened today.

Also, see Elaine Hopkins post today.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Deportations to Haiti

Photo by John Carroll
Cholera Treatment Center
Port-au-Prince, Haiti

See this article from the Palm Beach Post about deporting Haitians back to Haitian prisons and their risk for cholera.

Activists fight plan to resume deportations to Haiti, citing post-earthquake conditions

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Updated: 5:46 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011
Posted: 2:18 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011

Florida immigration activists are asking the Obama administration to stop planned deportations to Haiti, citing the festering cholera epidemic there, other lingering dangers from last year's massive earthquake and recent political violence.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced in December that this month, it would resume deportations to Haiti that were halted after the quake last Jan.12.

The first individuals scheduled to be deported are Haitians who had been incarcerated for crimes in the United States, were released and benefitted temporarily from the moratorium on repatriations after the quake.

According to the activists, about 100 such Haitians - many from South Florida - have already been picked up by immigration authorities and transferred to a holding facility in Louisiana before being shipped back.

ICE officials say that, according to law, the federal government can not detain such individuals for any significant time beyond their sentences. ICE then either must remove them from the country or release them back into the U.S. population, despite histories of serious crime.

The activists, however, say no Haitian should be sent back to their native country right now given the post-earthquake devastation and the political upheaval that has followed recent, disputed presidential elections.

"We ask President Obama to hold off on removing Haitian nationals from this country in light of the horrific conditions now facing our neighboring nation," said Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.

"It is within his power to show leadership and prevent a civil liberties and human rights disaster."

The cholera epidemic poses real dangers to criminal deportees, according to the activists.

Cholera struck Haiti last summer and by December 15 more than 2400 deaths had been recorded. At least 48 of those deaths occurred in Haiti's prisons, where cholera was first diagnosed in November.

"It is against Haitian law, but the deportees usually spend about two weeks locked up," says Michelle Karshan, executive director of Alternative Chance, a non-profit organization that works with former convicts. "And if they don't have family members to claim them they are detained indefinitely."

Karshan says cholera works particularly fast in Haitian prisons and jails where there is no clean water or food, inmates share squalid, unsanitary conditions and there is often little or no medical care.

"You get dehydrated quickly and without the proper medical care you can die in two to three hours from cholera," she said.

Steve Forester, Miami-based spokesman for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, decried the pending repatriations.

"What they are doing is sending people to police station holding cells and prisons where cholera has already claimed at least 48 lives, where clean drinking water is not given or available and people can die from cholera in a day," Forester said.

Newly elected Congresswoman Federica Wilson, D-Miami, whose district includes Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood, also opposes the policy.

"I am keenly aware of the devastation and the impact the present situation has on the constituents in my district and on their families in Haiti," Wilson said in a prepared statement.

"My Congressional district includes the largest Haitian population in America, so I am faced with the misery and the suffering on a daily basis."

ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez said the flights repatriating Haitians are expected to start in mid-January, adding that resuming the deportations is " consistent with our domestic immigration enforcement priorities."

ICE officials say in 2011 they expect to send back to Haiti about 700 criminal aliens who have been convicted of homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, embezzlement, money laundering and extortion.

As for the health dangers posed to those being sent back, Gonzalez said that ICE was mindful of the issue.

"The Department of State has been working with the government of Haiti to ensure that the resumption of removals is conducted in a safe, humane manner with minimal disruption to ongoing rebuilding efforts," she said.

The activists say despite the serious convictions, the would-be deportees have stayed out of trouble since being released from prison.They said they would continue to pressure the Obama administration to change the policy before the repatriations begin.

Thursday, six human rights groups filed an emergency petition with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), to halt the deportations. They include the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center of Miami and the University of Miami School of Law.

The Catholic Post and Haiti

The Catholic Post of Peoria reports on Haiti in this article.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Why Don't the Haitians have Birth Control?"

If it were up to OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center, they probably WOULD have birth control. I am sure some ethical loopholes could be created by the OSF and The Catholic Diocese of Peoria to make this possible.

See Maria's post for the other side of the story.