Archive | May 2012

What should you look for in a hospital?

Let’s face it. Choosing a hospital is likely not the highest priority on your list of things to do today – or any day for that matter. Yet when your health requires specialized care beyond the confines of your doctor’s office, you’d like to know you’re in good hands. Obviously, you may not always have a choice, but if you need some things to consider, check out this article from US News and World Report on How to find the best hospital near you. 

Although the quality of medical care you receive should hold the highest priority, value can come from another side of the equation that excellence in medical science cannot address. That side of patient satisfaction arises from treating patients as people. What a novel idea – combining the best in modern technology and scientific approaches with old fashioned compassion and personalized care. It’s a type of pay it forward concept.

It would appear that some hospitals are getting the picture and the Internet has enhanced their efforts. Now you can not only go online at a hospital’s website to find a doctor for your specific health need but you can also send a greeting to a patient, “Like” them on Facebook or watch a video about their efforts in-house and in the community. If you like what you see, you can make a donation or pay your bill – all from the comfort of home. You’ll notice if you’re on their premises, they have stepped up their efforts to train their staff in professionalism and patient safety yet they don’t neglect customer service and plain, but always appreciated, common courtesy. They also instruct their staff to smile more – as is appropriate, of course.

Hospitals are also employers, and they’re getting the picture in that arena too as they strive to engage their employees to set the example. Morris Hospital outside of Chicago, IL decided to encourage their staff, volunteers and visitors to get some exercise and take the stairs instead of the elevator with a special campaign. They enlisted local students to paint outdoor scenes in the stairwells to encourage people to take that route. It’s an interesting concept. Click here to see a video of what they did.

With the exception of the maternity ward, no one enjoys going to the hospital. Hospital executives, however, seem to be grasping the connection between quicker healing and better health with their proactive efforts. It makes good business sense, too. Though most patients hope they don’t have an occasion to return themselves, they understand the need for these facilities is a fact of life. Hospitals understand this too. A satisfied patient will spread the word.

Memorial Day Challenge

How much do you know about Memorial Day? Just for fun, let’s test your knowledge. Take the quiz and check your results. The answers are below. (No cheating, now.)

1. Memorial Day was originally called

a. Fallen Hero’s Day

b. Veteran’s Day

c. Decoration Day

2. The first official celebration of Memorial Day (under its original name), took place 3 years after which war?

a. War of 1812

b. Civil War

c. Spanish American War

3. Moina Michael wrote a Memorial Day poem referencing this flower. Today men and women wear it to honor those who have provided the ultimate sacrifice to secure our freedom.

a. Red rose

b. Red geranium

c. Poppy

4. Which of the following statements is true?

a. On Memorial Day, the flag should be at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.

b. On Memorial Day, the flag should be at full-staff until noon only, then lowered to half-staff until it is removed.

c. On Memorial Day, the flag may fly all day without regard to lowering and removing  it at sundown.

5. The first state to officially recognize Memorial Day is

a. New York

b. Massachusetts

c. Virginia

6. The two most popular items used to honor soldiers are

a. Flags and wreaths

b. Bands and parades

c. Flags and flowers

7. The song most frequently played on Memorial Day is

a. Stars and Stripes

b. Taps

c. Star Spangled Banner

Check your answers below and rate your score. 

Answers:  1-c; 2-b; 3-c; 4-a; 5-a; 6-c; 7-b

7 correct answers Go to the head of the line. The first hot dog is yours.
6 correct answers Good work. You can be second in line.
5 correct answers Memory is getting shaky. Check out the Internet before getting in line.
0-4 correct answers Pop quizzes aren’t your thing. Line up for clean-up duty.

 


What will you celebrate on Memorial Day?

We can count the hours until the long awaited Memorial Day weekend will begin. For most people you talk to, you’ll find them looking forward to three days jam packed with activities analogous to summer – picnics, swimming, camping, relaxing on the deck and doing just about anything in the outdoors. Some, of course, will remember the intent of the commemoration, a day dedicated to the men and women who have died in service to our country. These may display the flag or attend a parade. But is that enough?

A litmus test to determine if you and your family have the right perspective of Memorial Day is to ask your kids what the day is all about. If they can’t tell you, some remedial work is in order. Why not turn back the clock and see what you and your family can do to honor the brave men and women of our military who risk their lives so that we can remain free? You may know the family of someone who is deployed and can make your tribute more personal, but whether it’s flying the flag, attending a parade or Memorial Day ceremony, or donating to an organization that provides assistance to our service men and women, we do not want to lose sight of their contributions. It is important we remember and that we pass it on to the generations to come.

If interested in donating to an organization that supports the military, Charity Navigator has dedicated a special web page with ratings and additional information to help you decide where best to designate your funds.

Are your eyes open?

“Hello …” you might respond. “I’m reading this post aren’t I?”

Yes, yet I might ask, “What do you see? Just how much of what goes on in the world are you and I truly aware of? We might be cognizant of the world news, though this may also be a stretch. Do we really know much more than Internet headlines? And while we’re talking about world issues, how detailed are we in understanding the impact of these global situations on individuals?

Most of us see what is right in front of us screaming for our attention, and yet while we share breakfast with our family, discuss business over lunch with colleagues, entertain friends over dinner, work and sleep, 16,000 children under the age of 5 will die of malnutrition. Though some of these children are bereft of family, many others live in impoverished countries with caring parents, grandparents and siblings unable to provide for them. In Haiti for example, many children make mud pies – not as child’s play, but to help alleviate the pain of hunger. Do we see them? Do we empathize with their circumstances? What if they were our children or grandchildren?

Some will say, “I didn’t know,” and likely that’s correct, but now we are aware. Opening our eyes is a beginning. Once we see a problem, we can begin to address it.

If you’re ready to do more, click here and watch the video.

Happy 131st birthday

Today marks the 131st anniversary of the American Red Cross founded by Clarissa Harlowe Barton, more commonly referred to as Clara Barton.

This outstanding humanitarian pioneered in positions traditionally held by men. Beginning as a teacher, she later moved into a position in the Patent office of the federal government. During the Civil War, she risked her own life moving through battle fields to provide necessary supplies to soldiers. In addition, Clara recognized these military men as individuals and supported them by writing letters, reading books to the wounded, listening to their struggles, and praying with them. She opened her eyes to their needs and jumped in to help.

After the war, she journeyed to Switzerland to observe the workings of the International Red Cross and returned to the US where she championed for a similar organization here. On May 21, 1881, this became a reality, and the American Red Cross was born. She led the organization for 23 years.

Clara would likely not recognize the organization today, but would be most pleased at its growth. The American Red Cross continues to be one of the foremost philanthropic associations meeting immediate needs during times of crisis. In addition, the group now takes a proactive approach through blood drives and preparedness efforts. They provide information on numerous topics ranging from flu to floods with everything in between. These are easily downloadable in pdf format. Additionally, they have an online store where you can purchase items you might need in case disaster of any magnitude should strike. Are you and your family or business ready? You can take their assessment to see and fill in any necessary gaps with their resources.

Interested to know how they rate among charities? You can use Charity Navigator to do your homework.

Sometimes we get caught up in the busyness of our daily lives, yet all around us there are people with needs – some small, some great.  Like Clara Barton, you and I can take a proactive approach to make a difference. It begins with awareness and continues as  we actively participate to find the resources to fill the gaps. Stay tuned for more.

Overcoming Murphy’s Law

Does this ever happen to you?  You’re faced with a challenge, you discover a workable solution, and you begin to implement it and WHAM! You’re broadsided by a host of unpredictable situations preventing you from going further with your plan. I often refer to the result as Murphy’s Law – “If anything can go wrong, it will,” because it happens so frequently. Yet in the scheme of life, it is reality. It’s the law, not the exception.

I may be the last of the naïve who, rather than plan for negative possibilities and hindrances, assume that good will triumph according to plan. In many cases it does, but accidents, sickness, financial setbacks and relational issues come to everyone, so I need to change my perspective. In the meantime, I need to plan for these “negative” events, because they surely will come. In so doing, my mind can begin to foresee contingencies and ways to adjust if and when they occur. It really is logical. I’m not sure why it has taken so long to sink into my brain. In some ways, it’s defensive driving for life.

Along with finding a viable solution, I need to put feet to the plan so that I can move forward. (Someone once said that it is easier to direct a moving vehicle than one that is parked.) I need to be moving – even if it is not at the desired speed. This includes a little risk management planning to be really effective, and it may be exactly what I need to overcome Murphy’s Law.

Do we have a date?

Dave Ramsey is one of my favorites in both business and the financial world. Based on Scriptural principles, he takes a no-nonsense approach to finance, leadership and life (just ask his kids). He draws a line in the sand and strives (nobody’s perfect) to walk what he talks, and it works! I took advantage of some travel time in the car on the way to a meeting and listened to one of his CD’s on leadership. The concept he shared about making decisions proved simple, but profound.

Many decisions in life are easy to make – what to have for lunch, which container of milk to buy, how to subscribe to an e-zine, or whatever other similar choices affect your life. Hence, you needn’t spend a lot of time on the process of making your decision. On the other hand, if you have saved for a long time to buy a new car, you want to ensure you spend adequate time to make the right selection.  Your choice will be with you for a long while, hopefully.  In other words, small impact decisions require less thought than their weightier counterparts because they have a greater long-term impact. The amount of time you take to make your decision should be proportionate to its impact.

As one of those people with a million ideas, I can get bogged down in the process which sometimes leads to procrastination, a sense of being overwhelmed or a good idea falling through the proverbial cracks. Ramsey suggests when you have to make one of the heavier decisions or if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, grab your calendar and set a date to decide. Don’t drag it out. Weigh the pros and cons, decide and move on. Setting a date relieves the stress because, if nothing else, there is an end in sight.

Your date may reflect a deadline that is either real or self-imposed. Either way, you’ll need to evaluate the facts, opportunities and challenges and then act. Based on your decision, you can adjust if the results are not immediately satisfactory. Whether you’re purchasing a new home, a piece of equipment or determining if you should open or close the doors on a business, Ramsey’s method has worked for him and countless others. I think I’ll give it a try. What do you think? Do we have a date?

Read The Hunger Games?

If you have read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you are likely wondering why it took the rest of us so long to get a copy and sit down to read it. Sure there was a lot of hype about the story and comments about the movie version recently released, but it’s one of those books that you have to experience for yourself – even if it is not your typical genre of literature.

This past weekend, my English-teacher son lent me a copy to read. His wife and sons kept telling me what a fantastic book it was, so on all of their recommendations, I began reading the first page. I was hooked and could not wait for the 6 hour drive home to finish it. This is not the type of book I would normally choose because I generally don’t enjoy science fiction adventure stories, but Collins held my attention from the beginning, and I’m ready for Book 2. I just need to make sure that I can dedicate the time to read because you can’t put these down.

Story line aside, there’s more to it than the main plot that keeps you riveted to the page. As a writer I’d like to know her secret. Is it the first-person point of view? Does she show rather than tell what her characters are doing? Does she include a lot of action? Does she use colorful language to create vivid pictures? Collins does all of these things, yet she does it in such a way that you are compelled to read. You are engaged and readily identify with the main character even if you’re not (or never were or will be) a teenage girl.

Those of you who’ve read this YA novel, let me know why you think it was a success? Other writers would love to know how she did it. There’s no doubt Collins has hit a home run with this trilogy.

Can you learn from an 8-year old?

Have you ever seen a large-ticket item you feel you’d like to have, maybe even needed, but have no idea where to start to make it happen?

Some people seem to be born with focus. They know what they want and go after it, usually with success. Those on the opposite side of the continuum seem to float their way through life aiming at little and becoming confused by the less than desirable results. Although you can pay a lot of money to find and read a host of books, get training or attend seminars on setting and achieving your goals, you might also like a more simplistic approach.

Instead of trying to remember what each letter of a SMART goal stands for, you can follow journalism’s 5 Ws and an H – What, Why, Where, Who, When and How. With these questions you can define

  • what you want
  • why you should have it and what challenges will need to be addressed along the way
  • who needs to be involved
  • where to find resources
  • when it should take place
  • how to make it happen

You can adapt the questions to your specific purpose.

Without any help from adults or older siblings, my 8-year old grandson came up with his business plan to obtain a trampoline and prepared it in the form of a proposal to his parents. You might like his method. The last I heard, he’s still working on the second phase. I think you’ll chuckle at his wisdom.

ETHAN’S TRAMPOLINE

Why we need a trampoline is because:  It will help with heaLth. How it will help is it will give us leg muscles and we will play outside.

Where will we get the money? How we will get the money is it will be a birthday present from Dallas, and Michael, Sabrina, and Grandma, and Grandpa, and you guys (his parents).

Where will we put it? The options of where we could put it if we got it is:  In the back yard or on one of the sides of our house.

Safety: Make sure it has a net and has unlimited weight.

Other: We can move the basketball hoop towards the trampoline. We can save money because we won’t have to go to the workout gym.

Remember Our Gang?

If you grew up during the mid 1950’s – we’re talking baby boomers again – you probably enjoyed watching Our Gang aka The Little Rascals.  Although originally created for the silent pictures, they evolved into the talkies, and MGM later syndicated the 220 segments for television. The popularity of Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Darla and the rest of the gang continued through another generation. We made telephones from string and tin cans and became part of the gang.

Interestingly, producer Hal Roach created quite a stir in several contexts with these films. When he chose his cast of characters, he included boys and girls, blacks and whites and treated them all as equals many years before diversity became the accepted mode. He encouraged his cast to improvise and act like real children unlike child actors today. Some of this occurred as a result of the cast being too young to read the scripts. The director’s practice was to explain the scene and encourage improvisation. It worked.

What I remember best was the way they created Rube Goldberg-type inventions from scrounged resources either from things discarded or those left unattended. They embodied the spirit of the depression – use what you have to create a new solution. They reinvented the wheel in many of their episodes. Who knows? Perhaps their inventions provided the inspiration for some of the technology we currently enjoy.

The plots were simple – after all they only had 20 minutes – and even their squabbles encompassed the slapstick comedy tradition. Some things may have been broken, but they were never destroyed. As popular as the movies and TV shows were then, today’s producers could not evoke the same feelings with remakes. Something – perhaps the spontaneity or genuine approach to life the original cast brought to their characters – was missing from the newer versions. Maybe it’s time to bring the originals to life again but then, today’s kids might not even find them interesting.