Category Archives: Politics

My First Online Doctor’s Visit – TeleHealth Makes Sense for Less Stress and Lower Expense

Two weeks ago, I had my very first telehealth appointment with my neurologist of about 8 years. I had spent at least a half a dozen years of advocating on Capitol Hill to make telehealth available (attempt to get it covered by insurance as well) to the public. Telehealth has become a reality and a viable, valuable, convenience –but also a solution for meetings! For some of us, telemedicine has pulled back the curtain on a new technology with unlimited potential and opportunities. Telehealth is becoming a necessity and not just a mere luxury. Right now, this new technology is great during this pandemic, but it could change back, without government legislation.

Thanks to the improvements in technology like band-with, compression, fiber cable, security, improved software, and the pandemic forcing us to drop or ease regulations, the current crisis has made a rapid need for this amazing service.

Dr. Ray Dorsey M.D. MBA is the David M. Levy Professor of Neurology and Director of the Center for Health + Technology at the University of Rochester and has been an active and longtime proponent of telehealth and telemedicine. As longtime Parkinson’s advocates with the former Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN), my wife, Angela, and I would bump into Dr. Dorsey with some frequency, over the past ten years. Ray has been a visionary of this technology and of its’ potential. Now telehealth needs to become a legal standard that we can all have access to, from now on.

My neurology appointment was made for 4:30 PM but I was asked to be on the site at 4:00 PM. I submitted my follow-up documents before we met, to save time and confusion. Due to an error with the submit button, I had to handwrite my documents, scan them, and send them to their office.

I really preferred not having to race through rush hour traffic and the tension of making it there on time. Using my kitchen as a waiting room was quieter than the doctor’s waiting room, was more comfortable, was more sanitary, was less stressful, and I had periodicals from the last decade. But seriously, the whole process of going online reduced wasted time, lowered anxiety, lowered stress, reduced exposure to any ill people, plus, we did not have to expend gasoline to drive there.

 A bubbly and engaging nurse asked me a few questions, about fifteen minutes prior to the actual appointment time. When we were done, I was told the doctor would be right in. I was reminded of the old days. I waited. Remember waiting for your doctor? Of course, you do!

The wait was brief, and my doctor was terrific. I had checked my blood pressure just before the call, and I scored a calm 120/80. The appointment went smoothly, and we agreed on my regimen.

There was no flexibility test or a fall test. He watched me walk. He filled my prescriptions. As any doctor visit goes, I have got to tell you, I wish, and I hope that they are all like that one, in the future!  There is a big take away to remember: Tell your elected representatives how important telehealth is to you!

 I saw Ray Dorsey in a Zoom meeting recently, discussing the new book, Ending Parkinson’s Disease, which he co-authored. I asked Dr. Dorsey what his thoughts were on the rapid burst of telehealth popularity. His remarks were, that if you like using telemedicine for physician visits, to tell your representatives, so that we can keep this most beneficial technology. Tell your Senators and Congress people that you want Medicare coverage for telehealth to keep telehealth as a medical option and to vote it into a law!

Telehealth has the potential to make doctor visits smoother, safer, and more efficient. This technology is an option that we need.

Who is paying the price?

I found this quote that I wrote a year ago or so. I had put it aside to use for a later date, and now is the time to release it:

Adversity can bring us together, but it is love that can unite us.

Without love and compassion, there is no sealed deal. When both parties are empathetic of the other, there is understanding. Common ground and communication may commence when both parties identify a shared outcome. If one party is incapable of having empathy for the other party’s condition, negotiation becomes far more complicated.

There is far too much hate, anger, cruelty, pettiness, ignorance, violence, and greed in the world. Most of the world wants the same, or at least similar hopes for their future:

  •   Provide a safe place to live and maintain a household.
  •   Access to clean air, fresh water, good nutrition, health, education, and an opportunity to sustain those necessities.
  •   To provide for one’s family and feed, clothe, and educate them.

Some leaders and celebrities exposed to power find it intoxicating and become engulfed in the overwhelming high that comes with authority. At what cost and sacrifice do we make excuses for anyone in public who condones the torrent of hurt being inflicted on government workers, who are just trying to do their job? Our government is famous for negotiation, compromise, and making policy. A government shutdown is a breakdown in everything that the United States of America is based upon. Our mission has always been to try to be a model for the rest of the planet.

Hurting the poor, the sick, the elderly, and those workers living paycheck to paycheck only weakens our government and divides us even more. Creating controversy and misdirection hurts innocent families, be it democrat or republican, is a petty and a desperate act. I have yet to hear any understanding, compassion, or caring words to ease this humanitarian crisis.

 Love thy neighbor got lost somewhere and it is time to locate it quickly.

Changes!

Today, of all days is the perfect time to discuss the subject of change. Today, in the United States, millions of voters will have the opportunity to let their voices be heard with a single vote to impact their government. Millions of dollars will have been spent in campaign advertising to insult their opponent, praise or question the current or past administration, or just be terribly annoying, until the next election.

I, for one, cannot wait to see these divisive, bitter, mudslinging, name-calling, unbecoming, childish, messages turn into vapor and return to the barrage of those amusing pharmaceutical ads that we all enjoy at breakfast and dinner time.

If just a small percentage of this political advertising bounty were used to inform the public about the needs of the Parkinson’s world, we could educate the planet on identifying, treating, and caring for patients far earlier in their treatment and improving their care for a disease that has no cure. What could be a more noble use of funds than educating the masses about an illness that is so misunderstood and so poorly explored publicly?

Parkinson’s disease is the second most common neurological disorder in America with an estimated 6 million cases worldwide and approximately 1-1.5 million people in the United States. Even these numbers are suspect for lack of updating and availability to necessary data for making better estimates. For as far as we have come over the 52 years of my life and the 30 years that I have lived with Parkinson’s disease, I see a  need for a similar buzz for change, much like the excitement that is in the air on this election day and eve.

A Time For More Compassion!

Today, I have a slight deviation to my usual positive message for an expression of frustration and a plea that I strongly feel needs to be expressed. Consider this my contribution to advocacy:

Congratulations if you are watching and reading the world news and can remain calm. I for one, am unable to digest the vitriolic, bombastic, childish, unproductive, hateful, remarks coming out of our nation’s capital.

When I was a child in the 1970s and 1980s our greatest fear out of Washington was the threat of nuclear war. The fear generated countless classic Hollywood blockbusters and the story slowly faded in the background, until now. The threat was probably there the whole time, but it did not remain on the front page and now, in addition to the chaos of the Trump White House, the threat of climate change, and the shake-up celebrity marriages, it makes one ponder just what to do?

If you are dealing with Parkinson’s or any disease, this is the last thing that you need on your plate. Healthcare, doesn’t mean much, until you need to access it. Our Congress, Senate, and President are entitled to full lifetime health coverage for little or no cost. It is more than a nice perk. They don’t need to vote on a healthcare plan for themselves, they’re just fine, thank you.

As for the rest of us, who actually, could use affordable healthcare, many of us are left dangling in the wind and waiting for a solution. It isn’t pretty, sexy, or exciting, but it sure is needed. I have never seen our government at such a standstill as it is at this time. A stagnant Congress and a President in turmoil leave the millions of people in need of affordable care under undue duress and the inability to move forward.

I know of many friends and fellow people with Parkinson’s who have to make the decision to cut back on their grocery bill to be able to pay for this month’s medication bill. It shouldn’t have to be that way. Sacrificing from your already reduced food budget to eke out enough for some or all of your medications is a sad and scary trade off.

Therapy caps have created a huge problem in limiting coverage for appointments for those of us who benefit from occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and rehabilitation. These outpatient services keep many of us out of the expensive doctor’s offices, crowding hospitals, and keeping patients active in their community.

I wish I had an answer. I wish I wasn’t so frustrated. I wish someone would hear our voices!

Health Matters!

It is April and that means it is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month!

Everyday ought to be Parkinson’s Awareness Day! For each and everyone of us who lives with this illness, we know that our awareness is real and constant. Now, bring that awareness to those who you encounter or who are less familiar with this illness. Too often, much to my amazement, I meet people completely unaware of what Parkinson’s is and what it can do. We have got to do a better job of telling the world about this illness, and what it is all about.

I refuse to mix politics and ethics. I try to keep my nose out of politics on this site and provide my readers with a perspective that informs and allows you to make your own decision.

I have seen the life-changing impact that Meals On Wheels has made and continues to make on lives. Just the thought of erasing a program as important as  this one, is heartless, cruel, and the sign of a system that is out of touch and totally unfamiliar with real human needs.

To reduce  funding for the FDA and the NIH reduces our hopes for a speedy breakthrough or drug development. Our health matters and many of the best minds in research and future developments come from these organizations.

The elimination of the EPA could cause numerous devastating changes and have even more repercussions on climate change and various environmental factors that impact genetically sensitive people. The future of the animal kingdom on this planet is in even greater jeopardy, than it is right now.

Speak up! Let your voice be heard!

It is so important to share your story and how governmental decisions impact you and those you love.

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