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There may be 43 million Americans without health care insurance.  The number of Americans who lack insurance that covers dental is at least twice, if not three times, that number.  Working in dental triage here at the event at Grundy reminds me forcefully of what I learned when I volunteered in Wise - we have a critical crisis in dental health in this country which may well dwarf the seriousness of the issues we normally include under the umbrella of our health crisis.

So before I do anything else, let me do this:  let me urge you, if you feel moved to make a contribution, to direct it to Missions of Mercy, which is the umbrella organization that provides free dental care and skilled dentists at many of these events.  Please note, I greatly admire the work of Stan Brock and Remote Area Medical, but they get the lion's share of the news coverage, and thus of the contributions, even though at Grundy - as was the case at Wise - more people will be treated for dental than for regular health and vision combined.

Please keep reading.  There is a lot I would like to share, starting with, but not limited, to dental health issues.

Let me stipulate that having 43 or 48 or even on 30 million Americans with no health insurance of any kind should be a major concern.  

Many health insurance policies do not cover dental services.  And that is only part of the health crisis in dental care.  Yes, should one need an extraction, a root canal, or even merely a couple of fillings, it can quickly get very expensive.  And without financial help minor problems go untreated and become major ones - an unfilled cavity or a broken tooth becomes infected, or the gum becomes an abcess . . .

Dental health start with prohpylaxis - with proper care of the teeth and gums, which were it a more common part of every day life, the trauma of multiple extractions, or the cost of root canals and other procedures could well be avoided.  

And even people who get basic dental checkups covered often do not have coverage for periodontal treatment, and yet if the gums are not healthy the bone underneath will be vulnerable, and that can cost teeth that could otherwise be saved.

The bacteria that play such a role in periodontal disease can quickly spread throughout the body, and if untreated contribute to major heart issues, among other health concerns.

We will NOT have a complete health care system if we treat dental issues as an afterthought.

I am here in Grundy, in Buchanan County, the poorest county in Virginia, as I noted in my diary last night.  With its population of just under 27,000, it has four dentists, three of whom are working past retirement age.

I have found (albeit without a link) some data on the count of dentists in the US, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for 2006-7:

Dentists, general 128,000
Orthodontists 10,000
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons 6,000
Prosthodontists 1,000
Dentists, all other specialists 5,000

Total, 150,000.

Given that the population of the US was around 300,000,000, that would be a national ration of about 2,000/dentist, not the almost 7,000/dentist in Buchanan County, a ratio not uncommon in rural areas.

This highlights another critical issue - rural health in general.  That is one reason that Missions of Mercy and Remote Area Medical are often in rural settings, or if in a city like Roanoke, one close to a substantial area of rural population.

That does not mean that dental issues are addressed in inner cities:  the problems are just as severe.  It is a function of income and of education:  the lower either is (and they often run in tandem) the worse the health issues, with dental often being the most untreated health issues in people with a panoply of need.  

I am struggling with how, other than my personal volunteering, I can help to alleviate the suffering that comes from this crisis.  Certainly I write in the hope making people more aware, of engendering a response that perhaps will be heard in Congress and elsewhere.

Today we had at least three camera crews.  One was from NBC Channel 4 in Washington DC.  When they found out I lived in Arlington, they very much wanted to film me.  I found at one point I had to bite my tongue, because when the reporter asked me why I would give up a Saturday and travel so far, this is what I thought, but did not say on camera:

I am processing paper and assisting with directing patients where they are to go.  That enables the dentists with whom I work in triage to see more patients.  Thus in one weekend I am accomplishing more improve health in the country than Congress has done in the last decade.

I thought it.  I did not say it.  In part because of conversations I have had with Stan Brock, knowing that he is trying to make a difference.

One issue is states which will not allow out of state medical and dental personnel to volunteer, despite Federal law which seems to imply that they can at most require pre-registration.  Early this morning I had an epiphany on how this could be changed - conditions of aid.   Let me explain.

I grew up in NY at a time when we - and in DC and I think Louisiana - you could drink anything at age 18, and in much of the Midwest those between 18-21 could drinkg 3.2 beer.  And some states had no speed limits, or limits much higher than the 55 MPH the federal government decided to impose.  The Feds had the big stick of federal highway funds, which at the time piad 90% of the cost of approved new roads as part of the interstate system.  The Feds required raising drinking ages and lowering speed limits as a condition of receiving those funds.

The Constitution has a full faith and credit clause, one which recognizes the legal acts of other states.  This applies to marriages, divorces, adoptions, and the like - and is one reason some conservative legal scholars think the Defense of Marriage Act is patently unconstitutional, as one might surmise from the Court's decision and reasoning in Loving v Virginia, which overturned the Commonwealth's refusal to recognize interracial marriages performed in other states, and also effectively ended such anti-miscegination laws. I would think one could make a good case for placing as a condition of receiving federal funds for state administered health programs (Medicaid and SChip) Congress could require that states allow medical and dental personnel -  MDs, Dentists, Nurses, PHysician's assistants, etc. - who are fully licensed in other states to offer professional services for free at health clinics like those run by RAM, MOM, the doctor in Houston, and others.  I intend to explore this issue with certain Members and Senators, especially those who are themselves health care professionals by background.  

I also think that we need to begin educating people - and that includes policy makers - that separating dental from other forms of health is counter productive to all health - that includes what we normally think of as medical health, but also includes mental health.  

I am still in Grundy.  I do not know many we processed trough triage today.  We had one xray machine fail, which caused a bit of a backup.  I saw dentists who worked for more than 10 hours today, sometimes changing from fillings to triage to give their backs a break - as a few people found out that I have strong fingers and know something about how to relieve muscle strain I found I had a new service I could offer  :-)

As dentist moved from place to place, or came and went, I became the one constant in triage, so that I became a clearing point for communication - with other parts of the dental operation, with the people from RAM who were doing the preliminary screening. I had to periodically remind people that I was not DR. Ken.  I was pleased to be able to help those entitled to the title work more efficiently and effectively.  And perhaps given my pre-teaching background as a systems analyst I found ways of making what those of us who were not dentists were doing more efficient.  

We had a number of dental students.  It was good for them to do what I had done at Wise, to talk with the patients while they were waiting for dentists to screen them, to serve as scribes, to work closely with the dentists.  I have a sense that for many of them they had an experience similar to mine at Wise - it is lifechanging, and I fully expect many to continue to volunteer, both while they continue their studies, and after they are licensed.

It was nice to feel as if I were contributing to making a difference.  A few times patients hugged me, which was something I was not expecting.  They wanted to thank someone for making a difference for them, and perhaps at that point I was the one most accessible - I accepted on behalf of everyone volunteering.

I think back to what I was tempted to say to the reporter.  It may seem harsh, but it also seems very real when I consider some of the nonsense I have heard from members and senators of both parties during the recent debates.

Remote Area Medical Missions -  Stan Brock founded the organization because of his experience of living in the remote Amazon, where at times one was more than 20 days walk from the nearest trained medical care.  He has been told by astronauts who went to the moon that they were never more than a few days away.  

RAM does more work in the US than it does in remote regions of poor nations.  That is worse than embarrassing.  It is humiliating.

Think of Howard Dean's litany on health care:  even Costa Rica...

I sit in my room at the Appalachian Inn as I write this.  The local Lions Club has fed us.  The County Board has paid for my room.  I am listening to Bach as I write this, draining several bottles of Moosehead Lager, as I recover from a very long day:  I got to our site at the school and 5:30, we began treating and triaging at around 6, and I finally finished shortly after 5:30 this evening.  During that entire time I think I was off my feet for perhaps 35-40 minutes.

I am tired, I wish I could give myself a back rub I ache so much.  And yet my work was far less strenuous and stressful that some of the dentists and hygienists who also worked long hours, albeit sometimes they were seated.  Some are still relatively young.  I am 63.  Some of the dentist volunteering are older than me.  

I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to collapse.  But tomorrow morning i will be back at the school at 5:30 AM.  We will triage perhaps an additional 50-100 people, then my work will be done, and before the event is over I will get in my car and drive home, at least 6.5 hours on the road, perhaps more.  The following day I will be back with my students.  The work I do there is very important, and very satisfying.

But the importance and satisfaction seem to pale in comparison to what I have experienced, first at Wise and now in Grundy.  And I will probably take some time to tell them that, and why.  Somehow I think many will understand that in saying so I mean them no disrespect.

I should not have to be here, but here I must be.  Next year, while many who read this will be in Las Vegas for Netroots Nation, I will be back in Wise.  Between now and July I will probably do one or two more of these events, always in dental triage, where I now know I can make a difference that is immediate, and I can remember something else:  why elections matter.  With a Democratic President and a Democratic Congress there is some hope that we can begin to address the unmet obligation we have to our fellow human beings, that we respect them enough to work to make the events at Wise and Grundy and elsewhere unnecessary.

Until that happens, so long as I am physically able, I will continue to volunteer, and to annoy you by writing about it.

People in bad health, including dental health, do not work effectively.  Children with rotting teeth do not learn.  People who suffer unnecessarily learn that they do not matter to us.  And by our allowing this to continue we judge ourselves and our society, and by our continued inaction condemn ourselves as willing to be inhumane and unfeeling.

I cannot accept that judgment.  I will strive against it.

And so I am here.  And so I write this.  And so I ask - even beg - that each time I do write about things like this, you help to make the words visible.  Not for me, or rather, not for my ego.  But for me and for you and for all of us, that we feel and act upon our common humanity.

And most of all, for the good people who come to us in desperate need, sleeping in their cars, or outside on the ground, in the hope that we will be able to help them.

The NBC reporter and his cameraman arrive around midnight last night, only to discover that their hotel shut its office at 10 PM.  I asked them what they did, and they told me they slept in their car.  I then told them that many of the people being treated slept in the cars, that at Wise some did so for several days.  Perhaps that might help them understand the seriousness of what they were seeing and encoungering.

For these good people, who are in need, who ask us to respect their humanity, a humanity that should be something we share with them


Originally posted to teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 04:49 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Please help any way you can (48+ / 0-)

    volunteer if you are able.  Contribute funds if you have them.  Contact your elected officials, especially in Washington.

    Help make this more widely know.  Perhaps you might pass on the link to this diary, or even recommend it so that others might see it.

    Share your thoughts.  I certainly claim no monopoly of insight nor wisdom.

    For these good people, who are in need, who ask us to respect their humanity, a humanity that should be something we share with them


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 04:49:51 PM PDT

    •  Dr. Ken.....that's pretty cool (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, RonV, boofdah, Hedwig, TwoSocks

      Good job, doc!

      What if the hokeypokey is what it's all about?

      by Julie Gulden on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:02:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  am having internet access problems (6+ / 0-)
      I can get to this diary, but I cannot get to anything on the right hand side of the home page.

      I will continue to try to monitor.  If by some miracle this happens to make the rec list, someone else will have to add the tag, since I will not be able to see that box.  Not to worry.  I would be surprised if it happens.

      I do thank those who have read, commented, recommended.

      I will try to continue to monitor for additional comments, but no guarantee that I will be able to do so.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 06:05:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  tonight is a bit unusual (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      liz dexic, miss SPED

      for one thing, knowing that I will be up in the 4 O'clock hour, I am still up.

      For another, I am now finishing a six pack.  That is rare for me.  

      I am still processing beyond what I have written in this diary.  In one sense, were I to write it now it might be somewhat different, and not because of the alcohol.

      I have a vocation, about which I am passionate, and that is teaching adolescents.

      I have a passion to make a difference politically, which is why I am active in Democratic affairs, both in Virginia and to some degree, using my access to people in DC, nationally.

      But I am finding myself getting - how should I say it? - almost consumed by what I have experienced in Wise and Grundy.

      As i write, I listen to my favorite singer of any genre, Mary Chapin Carpenter.  I have eclectic musical tastes that are very broad.  And like my musical taste, my concerns also may seem electic, almost random.

      But they are not.  I think ultimately what concerns me is also why I became a Quaker.  George Fox wrote that we should walk gladly across the earth answering that of God in each person we encounter.

      I do not know if I "believe in God"  in a sense that question is almost irrelevant to me.  What matters is the human before me.  S/e may irritate the hell out of me, cutting me off on the highway, or the student who refuses to try, or the politician who is totally stubborn about ideology and oblivious to the effect on real people.

      But despite all that - or maybe even because of that - when I encounter a change to answer "that of God" I do not know how I can turn away.

      Perhaps that is why my experience in Wise was so life-changing for me.

      Do I wish this diary were at the top of the rec list?  Of course, because then it would reach more people with something I think matters greatly.

      But the rec list is not my concern.  The persons - I prefer that word to "people" because it maintains the importance of each unique individual - they are what matters.  Each one.  

      And it is that reason that I find drives my response.  It is heartbreaking to listen to some of the people who come to places like this, truly heartbreaking.

      I wish I had sufficient gift of words that I could invoke the same response in each person who encountered what I write about this, that my title were clever enough to at least draw a click to read above the fold.

      I am both heartbroken and spiritually elevated -  I cannot fully explain why.  The heartbroken is easier to explicate - that fairs like this are still necessary, that so many are still in need, that their condition has gone untreated for so long that all we can do is offer radically treatment - full mouth extraction for far too many, with no commitment to when they will get dentures.

      But what keeps me going is the spiritual elevation.  It is them - the patients - that give me that, even as I honor and recognize the service of the dentist, hygienists, dental students and more - the guy helping run the show is a salesman for a dental supply company.  He was assistant trail boss in Wise as well.  Robbie is a good guy.  He cares.   We all do.

      But we are sustained by the trust and hope of those who come to us.  If you have not experienced it, perhaps you cannot understand.

      Which is perhaps why if you have any chance you should find an opportunity to do this kind of volunteering.  It WILL transform you.  It has transformed me.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 08:14:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I apologize if I seem to ramble (12+ / 0-)

    I am tired, but felt that I must address this immediately, while it was still fresh.  I hope that there is some coherence to what i have offered, that it makes some sense.

    I know that what I have been doing makes sense.  I also know that my words are insufficient to describe or explain it all.  I can only hope to indicate in part.

    Thanks for putting up with me.


    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:02:29 PM PDT

    •  I'm one of the semi-lucky ones (6+ / 0-)

      Last year, I think it was Christmas Eve, my jaw started to swell.  What with the holiday weekend, I couldn't do anything about it.  On that Monday, I went to a dentist who gave me a strong prescription for penicillin & another for a painkiller.  I couldn't afford anything beyond that.  

      Then, my next day off, I went to the homeless shelter & signed up for their dental clinic.  Although the dentist at the clinic couldn't pull my tooth right away, he told me to come back immediately if the infection recurred.

      I work at a convenience store in a lower-middle-class to poor neighborhood.  Bad teeth everywhere.  People with good teeth are the exception, especially if they're over 25.

      GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

      by Youffraita on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:27:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Dental care is health care (12+ / 0-)

    I will repeat again that my wife's aunt died of sepsis from what started as a dental infection. One of the largest preventable causes of premature labor is infection that begins as a dental infection.

    Heart disease is affected by inflammation. Bacterial loads from dental problems may contribute.

    Thanks for your important work, Ken.

    You are a good man and a great example to all of us.

    look for my DK Greenroots diary series Wednesday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:02:30 PM PDT

    •  It is now fairly well established (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, liz dexic, ladybug53

      that more than a dozen of the pharaohs died from dental complications -- infections, abcesses, etc. It would be nice if we could at least move the availability of dental care into the 1st  century, if not the 21st.

      Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ---Plato

      by carolita on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 07:55:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  nice historical point (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        liz dexic, ladybug53

        can you provide a link?  Might be useful in lobbying on the issue.

        do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

        by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 08:00:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My info is mostly from the dead, (0+ / 0-)

          both dead anthropologists and the dead tree thingys -- books. However, if you want an historical reference that might play well in DC, here is a good article about George Washington's extensive dental problems, which lead to a series of infections, preventing him from attending his second inauguration and probably contributing to his death. (Some of his dentures, which were made of lead, gold, and horses' teeth, are on display at the Smithsonian, while others -- he had quite a few sets -- are at Mt. Vernon.)

          I don't know of an on-line reference specifically about the general prevalence of the pharaohs' dental problems, although it is referenced as a cause of death in the discussions of several individual pharaohs. I first heard about it from my friend (and former anthropology professor and Egyptologist) Michael Hoffman. Mike did his primary work in pre-dynastic Egypt (he wrote the best-seller Egypt before the Pharaohs: The Prehistoric Foundations of Egyptian Civilization), but his expeditions to Hierakonpolis were credited with establishing the link between pre-dynastic and dynastic Egypt. Unfortunately, Mike died from cancer several years ago, so I can't ask him for reference material.

          Dental analysis is a standard tool in studying mummies. It is often used to identify mummies, establish relationships, and even construct likenesses of the person's face. Dental problems were widespread in ancient Egypt. Some anthropologists attribute this to the relatively coarsely ground grains they used for making flours, bread, etc. and cite the prevalence of cracked and chipped teeth as evidence.

          If the pharaohs suffered from serious dental problems, one can only imagine what the general population must have endured. I'm sure it was a contributing factor to the short life expectancies in many civilizations throughout history.

          Some anthropologist -- including Zahi Hawass -- are now speculating that Egyptian pharaohs had personal dentists and may have introduced the use of dental appliances. This is hotly disputed by Etruscan anthropologists, since the credit for the first false teeth (gold) and bridgework (also gold) has long gone to the Etruscans. There is a discussion of that in this article, Dentistry in the Valley of the Kings, but it is really more speculative that documented. It looks like a draft and I don't think it was ever published.

          I do have a couple of those old-fashioned dead-tree things that reference this: Lives of the Ancient Egyptians: Pharaohs, Queens, Courtiers and Commoners by Toby Wilkinson and Chronicle of the Pharaohs: The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers and Dynasties of Ancient Egypt by Peter A. Clayton.

          Also, two weekends ago was Ancient Egypt weekend on the National Geographic Channel. There was some discussion of the dental problems of the pharaohs in the documentary Secrets of the Pharaohs, which may be available on line as BitTorrent at the NatGeo website. I think they were interviewing Zahi Hawass when that was discussed, but I'm not certain (I have slept since then). Of course, he has written a ton of stuff on Egyptian Antiquities, and there is probably a lot he has written on line, but I don't know if there is anything about this narrow a topic.

          Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ---Plato

          by carolita on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 10:43:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Fabulous diary (8+ / 0-)

    You're on the front lines of healthcare.

    The "other" America doesn't believe that there is an America where six year olds have all rotten teeth and some workers try to ignore one or two abscesses in order to keep whatever employment opportunity they may stumble upon.

    •  we are all on the front lines (11+ / 0-)

      since most people have health insurance only so long as they have jobs.  If their company shuts down, or has to lay them off, what do they do?  COBRA coverage is often out of their reach.

      And again, even if they have health insurance, they often do not have dental insurance.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:11:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Or eye care. (5+ / 0-)

        The lenses in my glasses are about eight years old.  I can't afford to replace them at my current penury-level wage.  Sure, I can afford the eye checkup: the optometrist isn't that expensive, but filling the prescription is.

        GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

        by Youffraita on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:31:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  at my son's elementary (5+ / 0-)

          one year, the teacher showed me how she grouped some students up front so they could see the blackboard. When my son needed glasses, we just got them. For many kids, they just squint along. This is shameful in our country.

          Ain't life sweet?/ I feel good./ I feel better than James Brown./ I feel better now. (Was/Not Was) 1-20-09

          by Chun Yang on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:35:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, it is. When (5+ / 0-)

            I got my first pair of glasses, in elementary school, they were covered by my parents' insurance policy.  That was many decades ago, before the rightwing assault on all things that will benefit the poor and middle classes, in favor of all things that will make the rich richer.

            I remember when I first wore those glasses out of the doctor's office.  I could see again!  I could see details of the leaves on the trees that I didn't even know I was missing!

            GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

            by Youffraita on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:40:03 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I've seen this place... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ladybug53, Youffraita, MNGrandma

          recommended on this site before, but I can't vouch for them personally.

          Zenni Optical

          If you have a prescription, you can order your glasses online for as little as $8.

          Prescription eyeglasses are one of the biggest scams going. My father had the occasion to spend some time with an eyeglass frame/lens salesman on a plane several years ago. The guy told my dad that designer frames cost, at the most, a few dollars to make. And they then sell for hundreds of $$. Same with lenses.

          "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

          by RonV on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:45:11 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks, but I don't trust (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            online opticians.  If there's a mistake, it's too difficult to correct.

            This is sort of a non sequitur, but I hope it illustrates the point: a couple of years ago, I ordered four pairs of jeans online.  I know what size I wear (and I've been wearing that particular brand and style for over 20 years): and that is the size I ordered.  All four pairs came labeled as the proper size.  Only one pair of jeans was actually that size.

            Jeans aren't that important: I can roll up the too-long inseams or put a belt around the too-big waist.

            Eye care is too important to be left to someone who is unavailable in person (i.e., I want to be able to go in and complain in person if there's a problem).

            GOP: Turning the U.S. into a banana republic since 1980

            by Youffraita on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:58:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I dono't know about where you live (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              but where I live, they just send off and have the lenses made in an out-of-state lab (out-of-country? who knows -- but it takes 10 days to get them). My niece in Dallas is a lens tech and her lab makes lenses for doctors all across the country. You may get to yell at a clerk, but odds are the lenses will come from the same place whether you pay $8 or $80 for them.

              Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ---Plato

              by carolita on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 08:00:45 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  I loved your diary teacherken. (9+ / 0-)

    Thank you for acting on your convictions.  It is not enough to want health care reform we must work to see it through.  

    My daughter who has health care insurance that (partially) covers dental care had $10,000 of work done this year.  She is going to have to wait till next year to have more work done.  My other daughter, who has NO health care insurance had a tooth extracted at a free clinic, but cannot afford to replace it or have other work done, which may necessitate future extractions.

    My husband continues to work well after retirement age so that we can have the insurance that helps pay for regular dental care, and eye exams.

    One Washington-Gregoire! One Country-Obama!

    by yakimagrama on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:08:41 PM PDT

    •  Teacher quicly realize one thing (11+ / 0-)

      we have to model for our students what we want them to do.  If it is important enough for us to want them to learn it, we have to demonstrate it.

      perhaps that is part of the reason

      perhaps it is that I have a sense that whatever writing skills I may have can be useful, but only if based on real-world experience.

      And then there is this -  I went to Wise because my political leaders cohort had committed to doing so.  I knew enough about it that I decided if I had to choose between NN and that event this past summer, I was going to Wise.  

      Having had that experience, when I knew they needed volunteers here, I made a commitment.

      Now I have to figure out how many of these events i can do without shorting my students.  They are my primary responsibility.  This is my moral commitment.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:14:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  our local dental school (7+ / 0-)

        does provide services, even very advanced services done by dentists there for extra training, but it is very hard to be accepted. I called on behalf of a friend who needs major dental treatment, and only got a recording that they take a few each month.

        I just spent $3000 to clear an infection in ONE tooth(had to take out and then replace root canal and crown) so I know too well how costly dental care can be. Thanks for what you do, tk. (And please take a look at my diary on our "Brain Tumor Bake Sale" - we all know what needs to happen in this country.

        Ain't life sweet?/ I feel good./ I feel better than James Brown./ I feel better now. (Was/Not Was) 1-20-09

        by Chun Yang on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:23:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  just to add in defense of dental school (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          RonV, ladybug53, Youffraita

          I think the need is extremely high in North Carolina. I checked, and Missions of Mercy is doing dental clinics all over North Carolina, with one near me in a month, so I will try to volunteer.

          I will also encourage someone I know who cannot afford dental care to pay them a visit.

          Ain't life sweet?/ I feel good./ I feel better than James Brown./ I feel better now. (Was/Not Was) 1-20-09

          by Chun Yang on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:33:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Even good prophylaxis (5+ / 0-)

    may not prevent inflammation and caries in people with conditions like diabetes.  Not from sugars that get eaten, but because of high blood sugar levels.  The infections can also take a lot longer to heal.  Needless to say the poor and those without ready access to medical care have the highest incidences of undiagnosed diabetes.

    Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

    by barbwires on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:37:42 PM PDT

    •  we saw evidence of that (6+ / 0-)

      some of the people who came to triage late had first been to visions, and when we checked their forms diabetes was marked - I saw that with at least half a dozen late arrivals.

      Now here's the interesting thing -  these are often type-two diabetes, meaning it is something that results from their patterns of life.  Would you believe 12 -18 Mountain Dews a day for many years?

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:39:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd believe it (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RonV, Chun Yang, ladybug53, MNGrandma

        But I also think there are some factors that exacerbate insulin resistance, and likely dental problems are one of those factors.  Insulin resistance leads to high blood sugars which lead to inflammation which raises blood sugars.  etc.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 05:47:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  blessings on you, Teacherken (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, ladybug53, Populista

    seriously. Good work!

  •  Thank you for voluntering (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, liz dexic, ladybug53, Populista

    I have good health insurance, through my husbnd's UPS job, but my daughter recently lost what she was getting through Minn-care.  Thank you, governor no-new-taxes Pawlenty.  She has asthma, and is unable to get insurance at anything near affordable rates.  Thankfully, her 3 children, who are all on varying levels of the autism spectrum and have numerous allergies, are still well covered and receiving excellent assistance-so far.

  •  Since Pres. Bush visited our high school in 2004 (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, RonV, ladybug53, Populista

    they have held the Mission Of Mercy clinics there. People camp overnight to be able to be seen. My dentist and his technicians have volunteered.

    Ninety miles from Washington, DC. Shameful.

    Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

    by CA Berkeley WV on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 06:17:35 PM PDT

    •  Curious: how did Bush's visit relate to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CA Berkeley WV

      the MOM clinics starting?

      Thanks if you can answer.

      This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

      by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:19:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I do think the genesis of this was United Way (0+ / 0-)

        The current president sent his kids to the same parish school as mine, and they are fund raising for a permanent location.

        The wife of a Presbyterian minister was part of the local group that got this started. She definitely felt out of sync with her husband's congregation in 2008--we went to the sate Dem convention together.

        Bush's visit may be why they picked that high school to hold the clinic. One other in the county is smaller, and the third one has the fancy track which is often used om the weekends by clubs.

        Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices--François-Marie Arouet

        by CA Berkeley WV on Tue Oct 06, 2009 at 07:15:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  thank you so much for this diary, (7+ / 0-)

    I'm inspired by your commitment. RAM is in FL in November and I will do everything I can to make it happen to get there.  I'll even bully my friends, family, and coworkers to donate some $$$ towards my travel expenses. Like you, I'm not a medical professional so I will contact them to be a "volunteer at large." The need seems so overwhelming, it's hard for me to comprehend the people who do not get this......    

    The only thing that should be sorted by color is laundry...

    by lady blair on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 06:18:59 PM PDT

  •  May you become unnecessary real soon. (4+ / 0-)

    Until then, God bless you.

    We shall overcome, someday. Yes we can.

    by Sam Wise Gingy on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 08:07:23 PM PDT

    •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      liz dexic, Populista, MNGrandma

      but as long as I am not unnecessary, this has become an important part of my life.

      And, if I may be allowed to do what I did last night, and quote Bob Dylan, only this time I will quote the entire verse, written in the midst of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis:

      Oh, what'll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
      Oh, what'll you do now, my darling young one?
      I'm a-goin' back out 'fore the rain starts a-fallin',
      I'll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest,
      Where the people are many and their hands are all empty,
      Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters,
      Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison,
      Where the executioner's face is always well hidden,
      Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten,
      Where black is the color, where none is the number,
      And I'll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it,
      And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it,
      Then I'll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin',
      But I'll know my song well before I start singin',
      And it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard, it's a hard,
      It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall.


      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sat Oct 03, 2009 at 08:17:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Where is the president? (0+ / 0-)

    He needs to go to one of these. The entire country needs to see the press coverage.

    I'd never heard of these types of events until I found DailyKos, and no one I told about them had heard of them.

    Parade magazine would be a good choice, too.

    Twitter revolution in a nutshell: Anne Frank's diary. Live. Multiplied by millions.

    by merrily1000 on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 04:27:25 AM PDT

  •  More Power to you! (0+ / 0-)

    As always, Ken, I admire your posts (and you) for candor and passionate dedication. In passing, I don't dare diary with a six pack on board. Unlike you, I seem to falme when i am that lubricated. I have some posts I'm ashamed of.
         When I was starting out in health care (50 years ago) most hospitals had a system where all attending physicians had to donate time to hospital sponsored free clinics. Nobody grumbled, since it was the norm. I think it was medicare and medicaid that killed this institution, since they permitted collecting hefty fees from the indigent. I saw charity outpatient clinics go under for the same reason. Back in the 60s I worked for a lovely clinic where private funds and low cost salaries for professionals combined to provide care for the working poor. When Medicad came in the private fundraising was no longer needed and the staff got rich. It wasn't a medicaid mill, but a number of Doctors did quite well.  The law of unintended consequences. We need to reinstitute 'clinic' in the voluntary hospitals

  •  Thanks. For all of us. I am so grateful (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for what you do,

    and for taking the time to tell us about it and how it is made possible.

    If you have a second, take a look at something I scribbled here yesterday (also rescued) which is on the same general point.

    Important whining and Red Sox stuff at

    by Barth on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 06:34:55 AM PDT

    •  it's a good diary (0+ / 0-)

      I was not online much, so I missed the chance to recommend it, which I would have done had I seen it.

      do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

      by teacherken on Sun Oct 04, 2009 at 03:34:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I missed yours (0+ / 0-)

        yesterday.  I really enjoy your firsthand accounts, however distressing the situation in Grundy.  You present the grim reality of healthcare in this country.  

        We have friends volunteering in a remote area of Alaska.  They are teaching basic health care procedures to locals who hopefully will then be able to provide some low level of health care in their own villages.  They told us that when a dentist comes to their little town, he just pulls childrens' teeth--to stop infection, etc.  There is no way to provide proper dental care.  A lot of people think tooth and gum problems are not a big deal, but as you point out, if untreated they can lead to many serious conditions.

        Thank you for your volunteerism and for reporting to us.

  •  If just 5 Americans had no insurance, we'd care (0+ / 0-)

    As it is, with 47 million,

    no one cares.

    How about that?

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:12:49 PM PDT

  •  TK, can you get them to do a clinic out front of (0+ / 0-)

    White house?

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Mon Oct 05, 2009 at 11:14:08 PM PDT

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