Showing posts from December, 2010

Non-Profit of the Month: December 2010 - Orthopaedic Hospital

Who is responsible for helping the helpless?

We are ... those of us who can help.

I wonder how many hospitals were built on that simple idea?

One such hospital in Los Angeles is the Orthopaedic Hospital.

It was founded in 1911. Below is an excerpt from their story:Orthopaedic Hospital was founded by Charles LeRoy Lowman in 1911, beginning as a clinic for children with crippling disorders. Ever since, it has provided this care regardless of the family's financial circumstances. To support this mission, the Los Angeles Orthopaedic Hospital Foundation was established in 1917. Following that, in 1922 the first hospital completed construction. It was replaced by the second in 1959, and today the third is under construction. This new state-of-the-art facility is a cooperative effort with the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as part of a Master Strategic Alliance to create the Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital. Combined with the new Orthopaedic Hospi…

Devotional Thoughts: Jesus is the Christ

Christmas is about Jesus born into this world to be the Christ.

The full meaning of that is far more than words can tell. But words are all we have!

You might wonder, what did the earliest believers believe about Jesus?

Below is perhaps one of the more notable statement of who Jesus was and is:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death -
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

For us in the USA, it is easy to forget. We get busy with shopping, office parties and family gatheri…

Devotional Thoughts: The Messiah's Mission - take away the sins of the world

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”

John the Baptist is described here. When he was in the womb, John "knew" there was something special about Jesus because when Mary, pregnant with Jesus visited Elizabeth, mother of John ... as soon as the sound of your (Mary) greeting reached my (Elizabeth) ears, the baby (John) in my womb leaped fo…

Devotional Thoughts: Waiting for the Messiah

Mary, Joseph and Jesus came to the Temple ...

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Let's do the math: if she married as a teenager of say 16 which would have been common in that culture, then had 7 years with her husband; thus, she became a widow at 23. If she was 84 when she met Jesus, then she had been a widow of 61 years!

And now, whom she had waited to see arrived!!

One wonders what she said when she "spoke about the child to all?"

Simeon had spoken moments earlier to whom to most eyes would have been a fairly mundane mom and dad with their son,

Sovereign Lord, as you have…

Devotional Thoughts: The Jesus Prayer

In the Eastern Orthodox Christian tradition, there is a practice known as the Jesus Prayer.

I've heard that it can be as short as:

Lord, have mercy.

And as "long" as:

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.

For classical music lovers, we hear the same thought in portions of liturgical music in the Kyrie. Here is an example in Gregorian Chant.

For a discussion of the history and practice of the Jesus Prayer, check out Frederica Mathewes-Green's essay on the topic.

I've taken to using the prayer at various times during a typical day.

Green put its benefit this way: Mostly, it gets rid of the clutter.

I definitely have my share of "squirrel moments" during a typical day!

And so the prayer helps me get settled.

More thoughts from Green ... I think it is wise that the Prayer asks for mercy, to remind us of the necessity of humility, rather than the narcissism that can accompany the self-designation “spiritual.” So the Jesus …

Life: Living donations are not without risk - surgery is never without risk

Interesting item at about living donation of organs.

In some cases organs come from those who died who indicated a willingness to be a donor. In some cases the organ comes from a living person who is compatible to the recipient.

It should be said that transplanting a part of a liver is probably a bigger challenge than transplanting other organs. However, the reality is that in any organ transplant it is surgery and surgery is NEVER without risk. Of course, in the case of Laura Fritz, the donation saved the life of her mother but resulted in Laura nearly dying due to complications of the surgery.

6 years ago I had emergency surgery for a small bowel obstruction (SBO). The risk benefit calculation was that if nothing was done, the SBO could get worse and lead to the type of infection described in the piece about Laura Fritz. By all accounts my surgery was uneventful.

However, since that surgery, I have been hospitalized three additional times for SBO. Fortunately, t…

Economics: In defense of the drug companies

Who discovers the medicines that save people's lives?

Drug companies who hire armies of scientists who work their butts off to find something that works.

Medical innovation is hard work.

Life: Are we beginning to forget 9/11?

It is beginning to seem like ancient history in our 24/7 cyberspace linked fast paced world.

But it was only 9 years ago that 9/11 occurred.

The US held a day of prayer and remembrance after the attacks of 9/11. On that day, these words echoed in the National Cathedral and went out to all who watched and heard:
We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead, and for those who loved them.
God's signs are not always the ones we look for. We learn in tragedy that His purposes are not always our own, yet the prayers of private suffering, whether in our homes or in this great cathedral are known and heard and understood. There are prayers that help us last through the day or endure the night. There are prayers of friends and strangers that give us strength for the journey, and there are prayers that yield our will to a Will greater than our o…

Politics: One of the new voices of the GOP

Rep.-Elect Kristi Noem (R-SD) speaks on the priorities of the incoming House Republicans.

World: Terrorism in Stockholm

Not all bombings are performed by extreme Islamic individuals but many are.

Thus, eventually, the news reports confirmed such was likely the case in the bombing in a Stockholm shopping district this weekend.

Some people say that terrorism is driven by poverty. In some cases that is probably so. But time and again, we find out that the individuals often had what would be considered "normal lives" but turn out to be driven by extreme ideas.

The Telegraph of UK has a profile on the Stockholm suicide bomber. Excerpt:

It emerged last night that Abdulwahab, who was due to turn 29 yesterday, is a former physical therapy student at Bedfordshire University in Luton, and that his wife and three young children still live in the town.
Tahir Hussain, 33, a taxi driver who lives nearby, said: “I used to see him around often. He didn’t say much but seemed nice. I used to see him walking with his kids.

“I was shocked when I heard what happened because I never thought he could do su…

Politics: Tax and Spend - the numbers as percent GDP

Lots of data at

Here are two charts I generated at their site that shows Federal tax as a percentage of GDP and Federal spending as a percentage of GDP while I have been alive.

As you can see taxes have been around 17.5% of GDP.

As you can see spending has been around 20% of GDP. However, currently, and for the next five year, it is projected to be consistently above 20% while taxes consistently below 20%.

It isn't rocket science: we want more government services than we are willing to pay for with taxes leading to deficits. We have to either cut services or raise taxes or some combination of both.

And so what are the government services?

See the pie chart.

Est for 2011 (total = $3.8 trillion)
Defense $928.5 billion
Health Care $898 billion
Pensions $787.6 billion
Welfare $464.6 billion

Its nice to get tough on "earmarks" and "pork projects" but these four areas are where the pots of money are.

We either cut back on them, rai…

Politics: Health insurance coverage matrix

One government study put the uninsured at 16 percent of the US population. This USA Today item puts the number at 46.3 million.

From this matrix, there are four groups of people:

Group 1
These people can afford insurance and buy it. It might be a strain on the budget but these people realize it is a good idea to have health insurance and thus try their best to buy it and do so.

Group 2
There are those who can't afford it but want to buy it. They want to be responsible but because of a combination of low income and high insurance premiums they are unable to buy. Some people in this category qualify for Medicaid and thus wind up in Group 1. But some don't qualify for Medicaid and can't afford health insurance.

Group 3
Some people actually earn enough money to buy health insurance but for whatever reason do not buy health insurance.

Group 4
Sadly, there are people who belong to this group who are unable and unwilling to buy health insurance.

Thus, the 46.3 million uninsur…

Politics: Unintended consequences of new health bill (a.k.a. Obamacare)

One of my friends who is an MD has taken a look at the health bill and points out some problems which I've tried to summarize below.

1. New mandates
Because there are additional requirements placed on health insurance policies being offered, the premiums have risen to pay for those new features. In the recent open enrollment at my work place, most plans showed a rise in monthly costs.

2. Dropped coverage
In some cases (mini-med plans), employers have had to drop coverage because those plans didn't measure up to the new regulations. Many companies have applied for waivers to keep offering these plans and have been granted temporary waivers by HHS. One wonders how many weren't granted waivers? Also, what will happen when the waivers expire?

3. Medical loss ratio
The new regulations require that insurance companies must spend 80-85 percent of their costs on patient care. He thinks this is a bad idea and explained it this way:

This "medical loss ratio" rule …

Faith: Re-telling the Christmas Story

Amidst the busy schedules of our lives and the reality that the story of Christmas has been diluted in our society, it was refreshing to see this video that simply re-tells the Christmas story!

The story teller is Keira, a child who was helped by the work of Union Rescue Mission.

When we think of the Christmas story, we often think of "no place at the inn." But looked at another way, some individuals in the community of Bethlehem provided space (may not have been much but they opened it) for Mary and Joseph so that Jesus could be born. They may not be recorded in the Gospels but that good deed would be recorded by God.

And so please consider supporting Union Rescue Mission or a like-minded organization in your local community that is helping those in need! You would be standing in a long line of people who have helped like those who did in Bethlehem.

UPDATE: Came across this item that discusses the "no place at the inn" feature in most our thoughts of the Na…