Private or public? The free market or the government? Which one is it? Which one can provide the best health care? That’s the national issue that, sooner or later, will trickle down to every community and household in America. Why, I must ask, has this issue become a question of either/or? I mean, in of themselves, neither the free market nor the government is very good at addressing society’s needs and that’s the reality that has evaporated in the heart of polarization.
I’m like many people in our county who pours over nutrition labels on all the food I buy. I want to know exactly what it is I’m eating, and more importantly, how many calories I’m consuming. As the American Heart Association will tell you, calories “in” should equal calories “out” if you want to maintain your current weight. Our diet should be equivalent to our physical activity. But if we don’t know what we’re eating, how are we to know how many laps to walk around the neighborhood?
When Suffolk County passed the law to allow us to see how many calories we’re consuming at restaurants, I was shocked at what I found out! So many items at these chain restaurants were overflowing with calories – and I had no idea that certain foods I firmly thought of as treats had actually fewer calories than other items I would purchase regularly. In one popular coffee chain, the walnut bran muffin was actually higher in calories than the rainbow cookie with baked-in chocolate candies.
I hope that Nassau County Legislators are listening to us when they vote on this policy in September! Nassau County needs this law – we deserve to know what we’re eating!
Long Island resident
American Heart Associations Founders Board Member
Given the nature of the new H1N1 flu and given the degree of interest which the media has shown, your statewide initiative is important and welcomed.
Certainly the Town Hall concept is useful but needs to be planned, scheduled in advance and done at a time when the intended participants are available. Today all key decision makers for each school district are either running their districts’ just commenced new school year or involved in planned administrative meetings for the new school year commencing within days.
I would like to make a few brief points as to the areas the State needs to sharply improve upon, if we New Yorkers are to successfully meet this challenge.
First, the government (DOH, SED, County) needs to continually discuss H1N1 as part of an ongoing public health initiative. Examples: Previous initiatives on SARS, West Nile Virus, MRSA, other airborne and blood borne pathogens…all this within the last decade. Hardly ancient history, but seemingly forgotten to our multitasking constituents. Important because H1N1 may well have a different public health profile within weeks or days.
Second, communication Pathways. The current guidelines are hierarchical and non-interactive. What policy is advanced if the school districts report to the county and to the state but have neither indication nor assurance they will get information back in a timely (and useful) fashion? Getting the information back is essential because that is who and where the decision making has to occur. [Apparently one site is used to report, but this is password protected, so its merits, or lack thereof, are closeted.]
Third, rationalization of information. The information posted on websites is difficult to find, organized (being generous with the word “organized”) in a confusing fashion and scattered over different governmental agencies and, within the agencies, over different web pages. There needs to be “one-stop” shopping for New York and for each county. An examination of today’s state Internet information reflects the week by week development of H1N1 in 2009; the information now needs to be rethought, consolidated and centralized.
Fourth, the state needs to provide more frequent information in its updates and its message. Messages concerning the value of vaccinations, the specific nature of the H1N1 shots (one shot, two shots, three shots?) and the likely prospect of the new vaccines availability. Additionally there needs to be a thoughtful background as to what statistically happens to vulnerable populations even in the absence of the added factor of H1N1, as well as statistics of past years, (by state, by county, by month) in order to put into context the implications of new cases.
Fifth, rethink the local testing or reporting process. Certainly the laboratory resources are scarce but sometimes random testing will help local school officials determine if the one-third of the absent students are not there due to parental caution or due to the fact they have the flu. This then can be a valuable tool to determine how to protect the remaining two-thirds of the student in a given district.
Sixth. Roundtable Summit on LI; Come back again, but on a collaborative basis; I would be willing to convene LI health leaders to establish a roundtable and a summit so the decision makers in the schools, universities, hospitals, public health organizations (and others) can have an expectation as to the decision-making process, the information process and the communication process. This needs to be done in the next two to six weeks.
6th Senate District
(Editor’s Note: This letter was originally sent to Health Commissioner Daines and Interim Commissioner Huxley and is printed here at the author’s request.)
The start of a new school year brings new challenges and a sense of excitement to every member of the educational family in Levittown. It is a time for optimism, high energy and a commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of each child we have the responsibility to nurture, educate and support.
With the days growing shorter and the evenings a little cooler, this means only one thing—the start of another new school year is upon us. I wish to welcome everyone back for what I anticipate is going to be a great school year.
The American Heart Association’s mission is to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. One of the leading preventable causes of these diseases – the growing waistline of America! Being labeled as overweight or obese has disastrous effects on your cardiovascular health.
Heart disease and stroke remain the counties’, the states’, and unfortunately, the nation’s number one risk of death. Obesity directly results in dangerous conditions for your heart, including high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. By educating the restaurant consumer, Nassau County will empower its citizenry to make better choices and potentially encourage restaurants to reformulate offerings with healthier ingredients and more reasonable portion sizes.
Evidence abounds that menu labeling does not hurt the restaurant industry, but simply encourages consumers to make smarter decisions. Public reaction to the policy in New York City has been extremely positive, with 89 percent considering it a positive move.
On behalf of the American Heart Association, I look forward to this policy being approved by the County in September. We could all be heart-healthier because of it!
Susan Somerville, RN
Chairman, Long Island Board of Directors
American Heart Association
Nassau County Resident
Senator Kemp Hannon announces adoption of legislation banning texting while driving. The New York State Senate recently passed a bill to make New York’s roads and highways safer by, among other provisions, banning the practice of texting and using other electronic devices while driving.
Recently, the governor signed into law an extensive managed care reform package.
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) recently released its five-year capital spending plan which lays out how the organization plans to adapt to changing needs and budgetary restrictions during the coming years. Having read the information contained in this $25.5 billion capital spending plan, I am once again confounded by the lack of forward thinking by the MTA.
I was deeply saddened when I heard of the superintendent’s resignation. I write today to let the community know what kind of superintendent he was:
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