A problem, a possible solution and advice on next steps from reliable sources.The Problem:The multi-sided civil war in Syria has evolved into a grotesque entanglement of complex humanitarian and political issues.Vladimir Putin’s brazen escalation of the conflict has eroded America’s standing in the Middle East. Leveling the geo-political scorecard will in part require America providing dramatic humanitarian assistance to Syrians, and that starts with children.We have all seen the photo of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, lying dead on a Turkish beach. The photo so shocked me that I started weeping at a San Francisco car wash.In a September press release, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, reported that “more than 4 million Syrians – half of them children – have fled the country since the conflict started nearly 5 years ago.” Back in 2014 — an eon ago, considering the intensifying violence there — the agency reported that 8,000 children had fled Syria without their parents.
On Wednesday, July 22, Los Angeles County’s recently formed Office of Child Protection will hold a community forum to discuss the simultaneously disquieting and promising prospect of using “big data” to help determine which children are the most likely to be abused.
The question of whether child welfare agencies should apply a statistical discipline called “predictive analytics,” which uses data to infer what may happen in the future, has sparked a now global debate weighing civil liberties, racial profiling and the alluring potential of accurately directing limited public funds to better protect children. Despite the understandable fears that come with applying an algorithm to the very human question of family dysfunction versus family strength, evidence from its use in other child welfare administrations shows promise.
It appears that Harry Potter books bring the power of “Lumos” to the world in more ways than one. While research suggests that young people who read the Harry Potter books are more tolerant and compassionate, and while the books have sprouted a millennial-style fandom nonprofit called the Harry Potter Alliance, the greatest contribution to human progress may be coming directly from the author, J.K. Rowling, and her profound understanding of the disservice that institutionalization does to children—and how we need to move away from it as a model to address emotional, behavioral, and social problems.
Rowling recently came to New York to announce the start of Lumos USA, the new U.S.-based outpost of the nonprofit she founded in 2005. The goal of Lumos is to redirect the care of disadvantaged children away from group homes and orphanages, and find more ways to support them, and their families, in the community. Its target is the 8 million children worldwide who are cared for in institutions.
The Fund for Shared Insight is a new collaborative effort of seven foundations coming together to back “feedback loops” to improve the social sector. The idea is that nonprofits need to do a better job of listening to the people they serve and incorporate that feedback in how they operate. Corporations vacuum up feedback from their customers all the time to improve performance—”please stay on the line to take a short survey”—but the nonprofit sector has been slow to do this kind of thing. Shared Insight hopes to get the ball rolling in a big way.
Every so often, I find a story that really touches me in the news. One that isn’t full of violence, destruction or hatred. Although the story of Matthew McIntyr’s wish to help adopted children, like himself, is not the one that his family would have necessarily written since Matthew passed away at age 9 last June; they are doing all they can to make his wish of helping other children in need of adoption a reality.
The McIntyre family of Cranston adopted Matthew, a former resident of Boys Town in Portsmouth, RI, in 2003. He had been abused as a small child and through Boys Town he became a member of the McIntyre family.Â After he passed away in June 2008, his family established the Matthew McIntyre Memorial Fund to assist children like him who are placed at Boys Town and hope to make the transition to a family of their own.
The Fund’s first event will be held Friday, February 27 at 6:30pm at the West Valley Inn and the money raised at the dinner will assist Boys Town to provide the opportunity for children to experience recreational, educational and other activities that fall outside of the Portsmouth facility’s budget.
For more information about the Fund or to reserve tickets for Friday’s dinner, please visit http://www.MatthewMcIntyreMemorial.com or contact Denise or Paul McIntyre at 828-0001.
E-prescribing is a method by which we could improve patient care. E-prescribing helps to improve safety in prescribing many ways, as described here. One important way it helps is by eliminating the illegibility problem of many doctors’ handwriting. It also helps by providing a warning and alert system at the point of prescribing with the most updated information about a drug, thus helping to stop the filling of a prescription that may be unsafe.
Sen. Whitehouse will be chairing hearings on this subject tomorrow in Washington, D.C. From the Whitehouse press office:
Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) will chair a Senate hearing next week to explore a major barrier to improved health outcomes and cost savings in the health care system — the federal prohibition on electronic prescribing of controlled substances.
While e-prescribing could reduce adverse drug events, increase adherence to prescription regimens, and save billions of dollars each year, federal regulations still require paper prescriptions for controlled substances often used to treat attention-deficit disorder, anxiety, pain, and other ailments. This requirement means that many doctors default to writing all prescriptions by hand, rather than maintaining two systems.
Whitehouse and the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from federal regulators and health information technology experts on the progress of rule-making in this area and the potential benefits and challenges of an e-prescribing system for controlled substances.
EVENT: Sheldon Whitehouse Chairs Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on â€œElectronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances: Addressing Health Care and Law Enforcement Prioritiesâ€?
WHEN: Tuesday, December 4th
WHERE: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 226
Witnesses at the Washington, D.C. event will include Laura Adams, President and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute, an organization Whitehouse founded that is a leader in the state’s efforts to improve health care quality and health information technology utilization.
Whitehouse served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Rhode Island from 1994-98 and as the state’s Attorney General from 1999-2003. A longtime supporter of health information technology, he has introduced Senate legislation to establish a private, non-profit corporation tasked with developing a national, interoperable, secure health IT system (S. 1455).
While I am all in favor of better accuracy in prescription writing and filling, and believe that there is merit in public health tracking the use of prescriptions in order to see how safe and effective they are, a couple of major categories of concern come to mind right away:
1) Confidentiality — Will this make electronic information about patient pharmaceutical use more available to third parties? How would fraud be prevented?
2) Corporate Influence — Will this increase corporate influence from the pharmaceutical industry on people’s lives?
These are broad questions — probably not really answerable by anyone, but meant to provoke thought and discussion as e-prescribing moves forward.
This is an interesting article. It’s one-sided, providing mainly the opinions of Dr. Peter Breggin and Kevin Hall of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, both of whom see little or no value in prescribing psychiatric medications to children. It’s important to remember that there are lots of parents out there and adults with psychiatric diagnoses who will swear by their medications as helping them to function better. And I’m not sure I share Mr. Hessoin’s opinion expressed in his final paragraph that teaching children about God is the answer. While religion and spirituality can bring comfort, focus, and satisfaction for some, it is not the prescription for everybody.
In any case, though, I sympathize with this lawyer’s plight in trying to defend a parent whose child is in state custody and who does not want their child on psychiatric medications. The youngster here is a 6-year-old boy who is reportedly on “Risperdal, Concerta, and Seroquel, plus the stimulant Clonidine and the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin.” I also sympathize with the residential facility or foster home that is trying to care for this child while giving him 5 medications a day. From Mr. Hessoin’s article:
When you are there, standing before an actual judge, real courtroom drama feels much less exciting than what you see on TV. There is no swelling music soundtrack, no scripted performances, and no overblown oratory.
Recently, I participated in a typically dull hearing that likely ruined a life â€” the life of a little six-year-old mildly autistic boy. The banality of the process was in contrast with the seriousness of the outcome.
Twelve adults gathered in a small, closed courtroom to decide how many powerful, anti-psychotic drugs that the child, who is currently in the custody of the state, would be required to take. The patient did not have a voice, since he was not there. No doctor was present, but plenty of lawyers were. The little boyâ€™s lawyer saw nothing wrong with drugging him into a stupor. As the attorney for the heartbroken mother, I spoke against the whole idea; I suggested to the court that other factors may be causing the childâ€™s problems, and that the compulsory administration of drugs by the state was simply an excuse to avoid addressing those issues.
The verdict: the little guy would be forced to take anti-psychotic drugs Risperdal, Concerta, and Seroquel, plus the stimulant Clonidine and the anti-anxiety drug Klonopin.
This outcome begs the question of whether a six-year-old child, let alone children as young as three, can be diagnosed as psychotic. And, whether children should be drugged by potions so powerful that most of them are not approved by the FDA for use in children. [full text]