A Closer Look

‘Your work is not your worth’ even for doctors

Cardiologist David Mokotoff, who has been working for almost 50 years, contemplates what comes next.

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I haven’t given up on journalism and hope you won’t

This column began in 2008 when I left the Orlando Sentinel as a senior reporter and entered the health-care profession as a licensed massage therapist. This week, the column ends as I begin a new chapter of my career and enter nursing school.

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Consumer Corner

Frustrated with the health-care system? Don’t know where to turn for help? Want more on the human side of health care? We’ve got you covered.

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I haven’t given up on journalism and hope you won’t

This column began in 2008 when I left the Orlando Sentinel as a senior reporter and entered the health-care profession as a licensed massage therapist. This week, the column ends as I begin a new chapter of my career and enter nursing school. Class starts Sept. 10.

Having left other writing jobs at various newspapers in the past, I know the departure will be bittersweet for a long time to come. Writers like to write, regardless of the profession we choose. Whether in a massage room or a hospital room, my mind thinks like a journalist.

I “see stories” everywhere I look. When I see injustice, my instincts are to trumpet it from the rooftop. When I hear of incompetence, I want to point it out and remedy it. When I see interesting things that make me go “hmmm,” I want to share it with you and thousands of others. Newspapers always gave me that ability and this column continued to allow me voice.

The initial decision to leave journalism full-time after 20 years and enter health care several years ago wasn’t easy. But I honestly began to believe I could be a more effective person helping people one person at a time with their pain and suffering than I could through my reach with mass media. At least I wanted to try.

I still want to try and feel nursing is an avenue that will give me more opportunities in more places.

But I haven’t given up on journalism and I hope you won’t either. This column is ending, but the need for excellent journalism may never be greater.

We have a nation filled with fat kids who are getting diseases once relegated to obese old people. We have millions of Americans who cannot access basic health care much less care if they need surgery or extended care.

I know a woman whose mother has a prolapsed uterus that hangs so far out of her body that she has nicknamed it, but yet she makes too much to qualify for government aid, but not enough to afford insurance on her own. It’s sad. Stories like hers could fill books.

We have misinformation on health issues spewing on blogs, social networks and websites galore.

We also have a growing economic gap of haves and have-nots, exacerbated by a financial system that disenfranchises those with bad credit histories. And on top of it all, we have a political system that has politicians in both major parties for sale, none of whom can relate to any of the above-mentioned issues.

Not since this nation’s founding has excellent journalism been more important if we are going to remain a nation that even remotely purports to stand for “liberty and justice for all.” There is a crisis in journalism simultaneously as news outlets struggle for profits to stay viable. Health News Florida is providing excellent coverage of issues pertaining this state. It’s been fabulous to be associated with that.

As I move forward in my health career, I go committed to the same principles that have always driven me. Thank you for reading my column. I will continue serving you as a licensed massage therapist in Florida.


Kumari Kelly is a licensed massage therapist (MA56756) and independent journalist and can be reached at kumari_kelly@yahoo.com.

 

Resources

We’ve collected a list of resources for you, including federal and state agencies and private associations. This is a free listing, without paid advertisers.

Healthcare practitioner license search

People can look up a health-care professional to see whether they have any disciplinary history or pending complaints.

Nurse practitioner degree programs

This site, a personal project of Joyce McKay, lists schools across the country currently offering nurse practitioner degree programs.

Medicare Rights Center launches MRU

Medicare Rights University is a subscription-based online service that features courses on key Medicare topics and provides subscribers with information.

What is Medicare and what does it cover?

Here is an online guide that explains the four parts of Medicare.

Medicare Extra Help program

Medicare recipients now have access to the Medicare Extra Help Subsidy Program, which allows Medicare recipients to receive discounted prescription drugs. A family member, trusted counselor or caregiver can apply at www.socialsecurity.gov or call 786-469-4600. 

American Lung Association of Florida

Florida Center for Public Health Preparedness

Florida Government e-Rulemaking Site

Provides notices of proposed rules and rule changes, public meetings, etc.

Continuation Coverage

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' site and helpline where unemployed workers may request review of a denial of eligibility for COBRA premium assistance.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality-Consumer Guide

Falls-prevention DVD available to health professionals

The Florida departments of Elder Affairs and Health are offering a DVD on falls prevention to health professionals. For a copy, e-mail DEMO_InjuryPrevention
@doh.state.fl.us
.

New fed site gives health information in Spanish

Federal officials have unveiled a Spanish-language version of its tool to help people navigate the increased coverage resulting from the health-care overhaul. Click here to visit.

Group offers free ‘living will,’ other forms

Free, downloadable end-of-life forms (to designate a health-care surrogate, for example) are available at a web site sponsored by the Hemlock Society. 

Government site outlines new health-care law

A new government site, aimed at individuals, Medicare recipients and small employers, explains how the new health-care law works for the consumer as well as for seniors on Medicare. Click here to visit.

FDA site lets public find drug safety info

The Food and Drug Administration launched a website where patients and health-care professionals can find safety information about recently approved drugs and vaccines. Click here to access.

Florida sets up oil spill info line

 Florida has set up a toll-free telephone line to provide residents and visitors with information about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. When you call 888-337-3569, operators will answer questions about the state's response activities, volunteer opportunities and health, safety and protective tips.

Complaints against licensees now online

Public administrative complaints filed against licensed health-care practitioners are now available on The Florida Department of Health Web site. Consumers can see if a public complaint exists for any health-care professional licensed by DOH at this site. 

Consumer Reports looks at reform

Consumer Reports has a guide to health reform, with videos, Q&As, viewpoints and in-depth papers. Access it here.

Online resources for information on health reform

The Washington Post has compiled a handy list of guides to the new rules. Access it here.

Summary of new health-reform law

Here is a summary of the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (adjusted by the reconciliation act that followed.

And here is the timeline for implementation.

Updated Medicare primer

The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its Medicare primer that explains key elements of the program. It describes characteristics of the Medicare population and how much people pay out-of-pocket. The updated 2010 Medicare primer is at www.kff.org/medicare/7615.cfm.

Mesothelioma cancer risks in FL

A national group that seeks to inform the public about this type of cancer lists environmental risk factors in Florida.

Consumer health information

The FDA has created a partnership with Everyday Health to deliver FDA's consumer health information to the 30 million users who visit EverydayHealth.com each month. EverydayHealth.com/FDA will offer health information from FDA on food and medical product safety as well as prevention and wellness topics.

What you need to know about anti-viral drugs

Not everyone needs antiviral drugs when they get sick. This CDC fact sheet explains who should take them.

State offers flu hotline

The Florida Department of Health has launched a toll-free hotline, 877-352-3581, to provide public health information and updates on the H1N1 "swine" flu.
It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Information is available in English, Spanish and Creole.

Information can also be found at the department's website, doh.state.fl.us.

New consumer guides

Spanish-language consumer guides are now available from the Department of Health & Human Services's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for consumers and clinicians. To access the guides in Spanish as well as English, go to effectivehealthcare.ahrq.gov. Audio versions of many guides also are available.

Suspect insurance fraud?

Call Florida's Fraud Fighters Hotline at 800-378-0445. It's operated by the Insurance Fraud Division of the state Department of Financial Services. 

Helpful hint

Did you know the state offers a Web site where you can quickly find the best price in your local area for the drugs you take? The Drug Finder can save you money.

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