How does your humanitarian passion look like in 150 words?

Humanitarian aid.

Humanitarian aid. (Photo credit: United States Forces – Iraq (Inactive))

How does your humanitarian passion looks like in 150 words?

Humanitarian work, emergency planning & preparedness, disaster relief, deployment to affected regions and being on the front lines of people needing immediate and urgent help has always been my passion!

Ever since working as a nurse in Emergency Dispatch Unit & Urgent Care, or running to and managing Code Blue life-or-death situations and emergency C-sections at any given moment as a Nurse Anesthetist in a regional Czech hospital, always helping & saving people at the side of the road giving first aid or CPR (2x already), all the way to working 10 years as a critical care nurse responsible for the fundamental survival of very sick patients in ICU & Post-Anesthesia Unit while responding to hospital emergencies and Code Blue events again in an American hospital, my passion, enthusiasm, interest and dedication has always been there.

Whether it is organizing, managing, administering, itemizing, transporting or distributing disaster relief during 3-4 deployments to Haiti, bringing supplies to Africa, or immediately jumping in and doing all of the above on behalf of a city during several devastating events of massive floods in my home country of Czech Republic, seeing and experiencing both the human and material loss, I have always been very appreciative I can serve my global community with compassion, professional knowledge, technical expertise and advanced education.

This is how my passion looks like in 150 words!

How does YOURS look like??

A Mid-Career Czech-up: how do you stack up in 100 words?

A Mid-Career Czech-up: how do you stack up in 100 words?

Wondering how your career looks like in 100 words?

Ever wondered how would your career look like all nicely and neatly summarized (since nothing in life is that simple) all the while looking visually appealing ?

I copied & pasted my professional positions, projects & endeavors in public health, healthcare and politics from my LinkedIn profile and used the amazing wordle.net to see what have I been really up to for the past 13 years in my let’s say all-encompassing career and how does it stack up to what I feel are my professional passions & interests with what I think I’ve done and accomplished in my career so far.

I must say I am (one-could-almost-say) pleased to see my career in a shape for which I worked, studied and sacrificed so much, AND most importantly as we continue to evolve, for one that is leading toward a better defined shape that keeps on toning and strengthening those already ‘shapely’ areas, keeps on finding new ways of doing, seeing, understanding things… all the while never seizing an opportunity to learn from wise, humble, accomplished and interesting people along the way… AND yet staying true to my ongoing professional calling, my passion and my dedication.

Yes, ALL this in 100 words, no kidding!

Yes, wordle.net can summarize it way better than me, that’s for sure…

How would your mid-career check-up look like?

Should the EU Care about Syria? The Balkans, anybody..?!?

MDG : world map with numberof IDP by conflict

This is the disturbing world map of internally displaced people [refugees] in 2012 (link to map below)

Want to know what I see when I look at it? …The shame of BALKANS! Why you ask?

Perhaps because I am a proud Czech American and thus have closer to European affairs.

No wonder!

I was a part of the Velvet Revolution in than-Czechoslovakia, I spent 3,5-hrs every day on a bus to and from Prague so I could demonstrate on Venceslav Square demanding the departure of the Communist party from power, I spoke up fiercely and alone at meetings when discussing course of actions in removing still-to-power-clenching communist leadership at my brand new place of work and town, I was a party to democratic political changes, city institutional reforms and democratization process of a medium-size town in Czech Republic.

I have always been involved in Czech political affairs, and because in the future I want to serve my people who so deserve learned leadership, I dutifully researched democratization process and studied politics, women’s studies, global health, regional development and administration at american universities – yes, at the seat of democracy.

Also, I was lucky enough to have a couple of internships at the European Parliament (EP), I know wonderful hardworking people there, but I’ve also seen the massive bureaucracy and the European Union (EU) machine led by Eurocrats, NOT by democratically elected leaders responsible and accountable to their people. So my interest seeing this map rests with Syria, as I worry about a possible slide to the 1990’s disaster and utter European disgrace in the Balkans.

 

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While I understand the region maps and I know that Syria is farther away than the Balkans, since the region is clearly not under the American influence and due to the Monroe Doctrine the U.S. does not even put ‘boots on the ground’ in the vicinity, it stands to reason it falls under the European influence – since the region in question had been under the French influence in modern history.  In 1920, a League of Nations gave France a mandate to administer the region of Syria & Lebanon. France divided Syria into administrative regions under the disguises of “decentralizing” government only to keep its power and influence over a strategically important piece of real estate. At last, France proclaimed Syria’s independence in 1941.

 

Fast forward 70 years and you are the beginning of this bloody and catastrophic civil war conflict where more than 2.4 million people were displaced in Syria by 2012, with another almost million people expected to flee this year (up to half a million by June  2013) and all be absorbed by Lebanon, Turkey & Jordan. This is tragic. 

Another alarming issue, next to the fact that no Western power(s) will help, is the fact that very soon Jordan and Lebanon will stop accepting refugees as they are already sending signals of distress because they have no resources or space to deal with such an influx of people in dire needs. Clare Spurrell, an IDMC spokeswoman said “Humanitarians can’t save Syria, it has to be the politicians … what you are seeing are people who are utterly exhausted…” (link to article below)
The only power that possibly could (as in do something) is France as this region used to be under French influence, but with their new socialist president sending pretty clear signs he will not lead any efforts, unlike Sarkozy in Libya, we are left to the “will” or the lack there of, Russia (and China, of course).
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Only if and when Russia will get some brain power, and only after Putin will stop computing how it will best serve him and only him, only then the UN Security Council (UN SC) can agree on a Resolution and a course of action by invoking Article 42 of its Charter stating that “if peaceful means have not succeeded in obtaining adherence to Security Council decisions, it may take such action by air, sea or land forces as may be necessary to maintain or restore international peace and security” (link to the UN Charter below)
Only then, and without the UN SC Permanent Members Russia and China Vetos, can the Security Council authorize the use of force allowing intervention and ‘boots on the ground’. 
Now, whose boots and how it will be financed is another question…

 

What always disturbed me, ever since the massacres in the 1990’s at the Balkans, is the absolute inability, ineptness, and the total lack of any (real!) interest of the EU in these events. 

As an European, it is simply unthinkable for me to comprehend they are still unable to get their committees moving fast enough – or at all, not sure – in order to put their efforts together and lead or spearhead this (or any) effort! The absurdity of this situation is that they do have time to pass stupid and useless EU legislations, such as banning calling Czech rum Rum (just using a simple example)!

What a waste of institutions, waste of time, and waste of so much money! 

 

This is how it looks when the U.S. is not leading the world’s police action anymore.  And for the world, get used to this! This is how it will look in the future when the U.S. is no longer the world police dog. Sorry, you can’t have it both ways. 

People are dying and being massacred by their own government, 3 million refugees are exhausting the human, financial and material resources of neighboring countries, and we are sitting at home on our couches and are even bored to watch it on the nightly news. 

I am NOT saying the U.S. should invade Syria, god no! I am simply calling for a real and constructive political effort to mobilize the international community, or in the instance of EU + EP [as this region falls in their influence because it is certainly not under American influence] – at least, mobilize your own community, the very community that pays your salaries and benefits(!) and help some people in need! People that, in fact, do not live that far away from the EU borders! (…yes, it is little far, but I am making a point here. The U.S. is way farther away….)

 

My Conclusion and the Balkans connection:

The catastrophic vision of history repeating itself not that far away from European borders, while “she” continues in her complete obsession with its rivalry between Germany and France, by Great Britain’s refusal to conform to almost any EU rule, all the way to Germany and France’s almost totalitarian rule over the new EU Member States, Czech Republic included, may indeed preclude the EU powers that be in recognizing an opportunity to strike and deliver an actual humanitarian help, action or initiative; an initiative that in the long run could prove to bring a great political capital and economic benefit for the EU.

Why is it that nobody sees or recognizes this… ?!?

Maybe they do – but that brings us back to the Eurocrats who are ruling their committees and all EU’s actions.

So Syrian refugees, tough luck!  

See how Europe got to that deep black hole of shame when (not)dealing with the Balkan conflict? 

It took, yes you guessed it, an American President, who mindful of the Monroe Doctrine, did not meddle into European affairs, used NATO, and did not put any boots on the ground. He sent air strikes. 

P.S.

…Oh, and by the way, who was it that for past 2 years was working hard behind the scenes as not to look like the leader of this effort and sent millions in aid just few weeks ago? Yeah, Hillary and the U.S. 

So, the score so far is Clinton and Clinton 1  :  EU 0

1) World map showing displaced people:
2) Analysis of 2012 internally displaced people: Syria & DRC
3) United Nations Chapter

Is ‘population diversity & behaviors’ to blame for lower U.S. life expectancy…?

Government Spending

Government Spending (Photo credit: Tax Credits)

Last week I posted article asking a pertinent question “If U.S. Spending is so Outrageous, Are We Getting the BEST?”

https://marketahouskova.wordpress.com/2013/04/22/if-u-s-health-care-spending-is-so-outrageous-are-we-getting-the-best-2/

The answer is “kind of”.

We do have the best technological and medical advancements in the world, and our acute care and treatments can deliver miracles.  We don’t have to wait 4-6 month for a surgery, we mostly get timely care, good care, and we do have great outcomes. However, as wonderful as that is, it does not impact the overall measurements of ‘life expectancy’ as it falls under the category of ‘acute care’ and we do really well here.

It is injuries or conditions lasting more than 6 months that are considered ‘chronic’ and require ongoing management, ongoing medication, follow-up doctors visits, repeated test, etc… and that’s where the U.S. is seriously lacking. So yes, while we are very good at acute care, we lack in chronic care management – and that does impact the overall ‘life expectancy’ and quality of life.

Which brings me to the fact that even after spending over $8,000 per capita in overall healthcare expenditure in 2010 (the highest in the world) , the U.S. has a lower life expectancy compared to other OECD nations. Why is that? Is “healthcare”  to blame? Is “public health” to blame? Or is it due to our “population diversity and behaviors“?  I have heard many  blaming it on the “diversity & behaviors” part, but in that case a question remains –  isn’t it the health and life expectancy of the whole population, no matter what diversity groups it includes, that makes for ‘life expectancy’ studies, surveys and measurements?

I agree with you that our diverse population is an integral part of our society, however, it is 21st Century and everybody knows that if you want to live longer and have a good quality of life, when you are not feeling well or have certain episodes – you should go see a doctor. And this is where the crux of “it is population diversity & behaviors fault” argument weakens, as 50 million of low-income working Americans (yes, majority about 80% are working and 82% are legal citizens) DO NOT have options or access to a non-acute or preventive care, so they go without seeing a doctor, without taking medications, and without ongoing management of preventable conditions – NOT because of their population diversity or behaviors – but because under the current system they have no viable option for obtaining health plans!

This clearly and directly impacts the overall life expectancy and thus the overall quality of healthcare we as ‘all Americans’ get.
If 1 in 5 Americans don’t have access to health care – it seriously impacts all of us in terms of loss of economic potential, loss of productivity, and in the end, in an increase in overall health care spending.

I ask again, does $8,000 per capita (twice as much as others developed nations) deliver the best health care to our society? Does it…?

Now, since we established that “population diversity & behaviors” are not to blame for lower U.S. life expectancy, is it a fault of healthcare, or public health? The answer is “yes” as the status of U.S. health care and it’s overall total health care spending and expenditures is a direct result and implication of U.S. health policies implementations. States are responsible for health care but federal government plays its role in Medicare, Medicaid, CHIP & other programs.

Medicaid, for example, by covering health care needs of pregnant women and prenatal care is not only delivering health care, but also implementing a U.S. public health policy. Smoking cessation programs – public health issue, or health care issue? Both, as continued smoking leads to lung cancer, COPD, emphysema etc… and that is very costly in terms of health care spending. Public health programs are offering smoking cessation in order to prevent future health care spending, a clear integration of health care and public health policies.

Without proper public health policies we will not be able to deliver proper health care to our diverse population. Clear and simple.

P.S.

Yes, while certain “diverse” behaviors cause increase in health care spending (i.e. smoking, bad diet etc..), if we look at it closer – these behaviors span all socio-economic levels, not only diverse population often mentioned. So we are back at the beginning, why the U.S. has lower life expectancy that other OECD nations? The one clear answer is that it is not due to “population diversity and behaviors”.

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If U.S. health care spending is so outrageous, are we getting the BEST?

In today’s heated political and economic debates, healthcare reform and healthcare spending remain a hot topic of conversation – and rightfully so!

Why is it that while the U.S. spent over $8,000 per capita on health care in 2010 (almost 50% more than Norway and Switzerland in 2nd and 3rd place), per OECD ratings, we deliver only average level of care based on U.S. lower life expectancy, lower than Switzerland or Norway. Life expectancy graph puts the U.S. roughly in the middle of the developed countries in life expectancy at birth (the longest gevity is in Japan). How Does the United States Compare page 1.

The problem with that is that other developed countries who show even higher life expectancy than the U.S. are able to bring their population to such age for a fraction (or at least for 50% less) of total health care cost than here in the U.S. It shows that the huge per capital spending does NOT necessarily assure or ensure longer gevity delivered through better care or more advanced technological treatments.

So WHY does health care cost so much in the U.S.?

The answer comes under the cloak of science, as the most significant contributor to U.S. health care cost growth is technology innovation & medical advancement. Clear and simple. We have the best diagnostics, imaging, new-surgery-techniques, technological possibilities and acute care treatments & capabilities in the world – bar none. The fact that we are also a wealthy country contributes to our income growth meaning that the wealthier the country – the more of healthcare consumer spending and insurance-induced demand there is.

It stands to reason that while new medical technology may be expensive, when used in time and appropriately, it does extend patients lives, improves their quality of life which in turn makes them live longer and makes them more productive. So technology – it’s a go! But the need for increased healthcare efficiency with curbed spending will bring a major strain on the U.S. health system in the coming years.

While the U.S. has the best diagnostic and acute health services in the world, we are lacking in preventive care and in management of chronic diseases and conditions affecting a large segment of U.S. (aging) population. Additionally, the wealthiest country in the world and we have around 50 million un-insured people from working families! Yes, you heard right, a vast majority are from working families – as in low-income workers unable to afford private or employer-based health plans premiums. Kaiser Family Foundation Primer (2010) states that 50% of ALL health care spending is used to treat 5% of the population and they are the people with 3+ chronic diseases needing ongoing medical & nursing care, list of medications, follow-up doctor’s visits and other services. http://www.kff.org/insurance/upload/7670-03.pdf

Needless to say that the un-insured have overall much worse health conditions as, due to financial constrains, they do not go see doctors with first symptoms, do not get medications to correct or manage conditions, do not go for tests or follow ups to see how such condition(s) can be treated or fixed or improved. So such condition(s) grow in silence and when finally there is a life-threatening event – they will go to emergency rooms where they will get the care including all those technology innovation & medical advancement tests, images, diagnostic procedures and latest treatments, but they will also get a bill for all that technology innovation & medical advancement. And anybody who went through ER and spent a couple of days in a hospital knows the amount I am taking about here! And without insurance plan to help cover the large amount, they are left with a stark total! http://www.kff.org/uninsured/upload/7451-06.pdf

Let’s not forget, these un-insured are not insured not because they don’t want to or feel like getting a health insurance, but because their low-income jobs leave them unable to pay for private or employer-sponsored health plans and not eligible for Medicaid and too young for Medicare (over 65 y.o.)  Yes, it is true, hospitals can write something off, but on average, it still leaves the low-income un-insured with a bill of about 1/3 of the hospital cost. And good luck with that!

 

Issues to ponder about U.S. emergency response in a small pox sentinel event [1/2]

http://rt.com/news/uk-smallpox-terror-threat-379/

(this post is as a response to the above mentioned article)

My area of expertise is NOT discussing the threat level colors with national security experts and advisors arguing about a possible impending terror plot using biological weapons. I leave that complicated and complex discussion and decision-making to those experts, and God be with them and us…

My area of expertise is program administration, infrastructure coordination and immediate implementation of emergency response policies such as putting the correct SOPs to work, dealing with and trying to protect the first responders, dealing with city & hospital command centers, dealing with local,  state and federal agencies, organizing teams and rolling out regional plans… and of course managing & administering it all in the most productive, cost effective, safe and human capital most efficient way.

Reading about the split view between the US and UK on the response to small pox threat, while out of my area of expertise, nonetheless all I see in this are the problematic areas of such sentinel event response starting with the politics of preventing public panic, not knowing the degree of events we would be dealing with as the latency of small pox is up to 3 weeks and they are highly infectious – and that’s just for starters!
In today’s globalized and inter-connected world we would be probably looking at pandemic situation where 2 million doses of US vaccines – even when and if administered at the most opportune time to the right people – would barely scratch the surface of such disaster.    …Would antivirals save lives? In time?
So yes, from the administrator point of view, a band-aid solution… and didn’t we learn, band-aid solutions cause more damage and are followed by increased public anger and outrage plus are usually way more costly in the end?

The political and societal fall out of such health security threat sentinel event would reach heights we have never seen before with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, instant messaging, YouTube, Pintrest etc… It would be up to the administrators and the politicians to calm and reassure the population that all the necessary steps are being taken… Are they? Would they?
Again, we are talking about small pox with 3 weeks prodromal stage, highly infectious spread and don’t forget – scary looking, as I can already see the horrible images floating on Instagram, YouTube and being posted on FB and the enormous public panic &  fear that would create as a result, because in today’s inter-connected and globalized world we all are much closer to one another, both literally and figuratively speaking.
(Highly developed, skilled and organized social crises media management during emergency response is and will be an indispensable and absolutely vital part of any emergency planning, preparedness and response).

So both countries better return to the point of origin and start thinking of the proper procedures, administration and coordination of such wide-spread effort with proper planning, training, established (and properly working and functioning!) channels of communications, assigned priorities, tasks, set ways of decision-making during such sentinel events – with proper management and foresight into what may come.
Without well prepared and well though-out massive plans of response, the division of views between the US and the UK on this issue will sadly be completely irrelevant.

Would you dare to make a political decision in emergency response to small pox, in such disaster scenario…? [2/2]

The U.S.may perhaps have vaccination and antivirals for the whole population, even though the storage and management of vaccination for millions of people must be quite an undertaking, nevertheless the utmost responsibility and primary role of the government is to protect its citizens and keep the people safe from enemies foreign, domestic, or in this case enemies of highly infectious nature and spread (yes, an infectious event most likely brought on by one or the other enemy mentioned above)

So to answer the above question if I dared to make a political decision for such program…? Yes! …but I am not a career politician…they make decisions differently – and for very obvious reasons.

Should that be a part of my job and a part of my professional expertise and my professional recommendation, should that be my decision-making responsibility – then yes, of course, I would make a decision and I would accept the responsibility.
In fact, that was exactly why I was “there” occupying that office and that position, to lead as leaders are sorely needed! So if in spite of knowing all about the small pox sentinel  event scenario had I accepted this (fictitious) appointment or a position then yes, it would be my decision, my recommendation and my responsibility for such scenario and for the people – whatever the decision may be, either do something or do nothing.

That’s my final answer, Alex (doesn’t that sounds familiar … ??)

While the crises analysis and projection of impact studies can be (and hopefully are) low on probability, and we all do hope so, it is still the responsibility of the government and its appropriate agencies to discuss, debate and plan for varied scenarios and call different “plays” all in order to prepare for such – even if – unthinkable event.

As I stated in my previous post, I am not an expert on the likelihood of small pox epidemic event or on the effectiveness or amount of US vaccines or antivirals, so I will not be delving into those issues.
However, what I am an expert on is emergency response, efficient administration, effective organization of people and key infrastructure – including the level of preparedness and skilfulness to deal with basic human behavior in crisis + panicked public (and they would be PANICKED, trust me!) and dealing with the complexities of emergency response management of such massive scale (I am still using the scenario of a sentinel event here).

Let’s be honest, when this hits, we will not have few days (or a week) of luxury to watch and wait “for the water to go down to save people from their rooftops”- aka Katrina emergency response. So while perhaps almost an unlikely event – great, we won! However, should any level of this event occur and we would not respond in the right, correct and specific way – we would be in deep Katrina waters, I mean in deep troubles.

Few years back I was a part of a sentinel event disaster and emergency response exercise in a regional hospital that had a central command center set up. We are talking seasoned medical and nursing professionals who make life-or-death decisions and see things every day the rest of the population doesn’t even know they exist, and yet the underlying panic, the hesitancy to give orders, the miss-communication, and the lack of feed-back to properly assess the ongoing developments – it was eye-opening for everybody. GOOD! That’s exactly why we have these exercises and preparation sessions – to learn!

So overall, it was a successful day even though the staff did not look like “success” at the end of the day. Again, these were highly motivated, educated, experienced professionals and senior staff members in an acute care setting, you would think they know what to do in an emergency as they deal with almost every possible scenario on daily basis…
But as I was told by one old and revered ER physician in the hallway: “You know young lady, there is an emergency, and then there is an Emergency”.