Sunday, December 31, 2006

An 8-29 commission? is reporting that, with the Democrats set to control Congress, there is talk about establishing a Commission to investigate the government's response to Katrina. The panel would be modeled on the 9-11 Commission, leading this yet-to-be-formed body to be called the "8-29 Commission," referring to the date when Katrina hit the Gulf Coast.

FEMA is already getting defensive:
Aaron Walker, the national FEMA spokesman, said the agency has acted on "numerous reports from outside interests, Congress, and the White House on how to improve the agency and determine where the missteps were in our response to Katrina.
"At this point, it is doubtful that futher reports or commissions will reveal new, actionable insight," he said.
Well-spoken words from a man utterly disconnected from reality. You're doing a heck of a job, Aaron.

Apparently Republicans also feel that the current response has been adequate:
Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist, questioned how impartial a new commission could be.
"If you listen to the Democrats, the Republicans actually caused the storm, that they created the hurricane, and did all the damage," Luntz said.
No, the Republicans didn't cause the storm (unless you want to start talking about the possible contribution of global warming...) But the Republicans--excuse me, not all, just some very key Republicans, including the President, and his appointees--have shown an utter failure of leadership, an absence of clear thinking about recovery, a placement of bureaucracy over people, and a basic turning of the back and walking away from the Gulf Coast.

For those who don't know, more than a year later New Orleans and Mississippi are still just starting the recovery process. Every day that passes without a clear plan--and the subsequent steps to implementation, which includes funding--makes the recovery that much more difficult, if and when it ever gets underway. It also drags out the recovery since time and effort must be spent making up for lost time and in some cases undoing the damage that the inital delays have caused. Leadership and funding are in short supply, Mr. Luntz, and that is a problem for which the Republicans must take responsiblity. I don't know if Democrats would have done better, but I suspect they would have.

As far as FEMA's Mr. Walker, I suppose you don't need a commission if you know all of your mistakes and you are actively correcting them. In other words, we desparately need a commission because there are lessons that still haven't been learned. I know FEMA and President Bush could use a good schooling.

Happy New Year, everyone. May your 2007 be brighter and more fruitful than 2006.

Wet burps

J woke up at 2 am on Friday morning throwing up. B followed about 1 hour later. So I cancelled out patients for that day, finished rounding at the hospital, and came home for daddy duty. The boys are feeling a little better now, but J is still having occasional bouts of, as he calls, it "wet burps." Without being too graphic, he'll be sitting comfortably, start a weak little cough, and then a small fountain erupts. Fortunately, it's mostly clear fluid, and he's still peeing okay, not having diarrhea or fever, and generally not uncomfortable. I hope this ends soon because we're getting tired of cleaning up puke spots. In the meantime, B has been spending his time in his room reading and playing on the Leapster, while J has been parked in front of the TV watching Disney movies.

My boys don't get sick very much. Partially because I try to be vigilant about washing hands before coming home, partially because they're not in school or day care. Of course, part of it may be the fact that I'm a pediatrician. Remember how Charlie Brown's father was a barber--while Charlie Brown was totally bald? (Alopecia areata?) That's me; a Charlie Brown father, where my profession does my kids no good. Well, I suppose I exaggerate; on the few times when they do get sick, my wife is very thankful to have a doctor in the house.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Introductions are in order

A new blog. Why?
Does the blogsphere need another medical rant?
Do I have anything new and novel to contribute?
Maybe, just maybe. As a pediatrician, I like to teach. I teach parents not to panic about fever. I teach my staff to recognize what's serious and what's not (or what's snot?). And I have been known to teach medical students, Rotary Club meetings, fellow members of the American Academy of Pediatrics, etc. etc. etc. A blog is another way to teach, to the general public. Share some insights into this mysterious practice known as medicine. Let people know why we do what we do, why we don't do some of the things we don't, and just what's involved.
I don't claim to be a guru. I don't claim to be the smartest or the most eloquent blogger out there, let alone the smartest or most eloquent doctor. But I sometimes get philosophical about what I do. I think that's a good thing. I also have an angle: as a pediatrician on the Gulf Coast, I'm bearing witness to Hurricane Katrina and its recovery. Some of you may have "Katrina fatigue", in which case, skip my Katrina-related posts (or the entire blog if you want; we're all anonymous on the web anyway, I won't be offended). As much as Katrina has been in the news, the health care situation here has been largely ignored. I'm not seeing it on CNN; I'm not hearing about it on NPR; I'm not seeing it on other people's blogs; and only rarely will I read something in the New York Times. (Ah, I've just laid forth my liberal media-based bias; you now know I follow NPR and the NY Times! Conservatives beware!)
Maybe, just maybe, I can let others know what is happening here. And maybe awareness will lead to action. Because, to be quite blunt, there is no action happening. The health care situation on the Gulf Coast has been neglected even before the DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Teams) left. But more on that at a later date.
And maybe, just maybe, I can entertain you, enlighten you, make you think about things. Heck, maybe you can do the same for me in return.
Enough narcissistic rambling. This isn't a great American novel. It's just a blog. Enjoy, bookmark, and come back often.