An Editorial Commentary
by Pat El Sharei, Publisher

(Palm Springs CA - January 2009) On January 26th and 27th of 2007, a multidisciplinary task force of high ranking military and government officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services met with physicians and other professionals from prestigious universities to discuss and design what was referred to as a “blueprint” for hospitals to follow in the event that a pandemic flu or other widespread health care disaster were to occur.

Although such a task might not seem so out-of-the-ordinary for the extraordinary times we live in, the end result was something that, at best, provides a chilling commentary on today’s society--a morbidly specific list detailing who would and who wouldn’t be provided life-saving care during a catastrophic pandemic or other mass casualty event. In other words, the task force grimly detailed those who would be profiled to die in the event of a medical catastrophe.

According to the recommendations, the list would include individuals:

• Older than 85
• With severe trauma
• Severely burned and older than 60
• With severe mental impairment such as Alzheimer’s
• With severe chronic disease such as advanced heart failure, lung disease or poorly controlled diabetes

Next month, the Palm Springs Area Survival Guide, will take an in-depth look at the “blueprint” recommendations, where they stand today as policy, and what they have to do with the value of human capital and how we care for our aging/chronically ill in the future.

In this issue, the PSASG provides a discussion of hospital quality ratings and how consumers can cautiously utilize these ratings as tools in identifying talking points with their physicians and other medical professionals. If the “blueprint” for hospitals is any indicator of what the future holds, medical rationing may be closer than we think and there will be an even greater need for consumers to become their own advocates— taking charge of and managing their own health care programs and providers. They will need to research their policies and services, ask difficult questions, and demand reasonable answers.

Just as scientist continue to warn Coachella Valley residents that they must prepare for the inevitability of a catastrophic earthquake, consumers must recognize that becoming familiar with their hospitals, medical plans, and providers is just as necessary to protect their lives and that of their families.

As publisher of the Palm Springs Area Survival Guide, I hope the information provided in this issue will be a valuable resource to both our readers and their families.

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