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Published by Al McFarlane

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Published by: Al McFarlane on Nov 01, 2010
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H1N1 prevention:
r. David Hilden is an internist at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota. He says good health is a matter of science and of art. Good health requires paying attention to the mind as well as the body, he says. Mike Harristhal is vice-president for public policy, communications and marketing for HCMC. He joined Dr. Hilden at KFAI studios for a “Conversations With Al McFarlane” interview on the HIN1 virus threat to public health, and to African and African American residents, in particular. Hilden said people are generally aware about the dangers of the flu virus and that most people are taking the threat seriously. “The message I would like to get out to people is that the prevention is what we need. Prevention means staying healthy. And it means if you or if you have a child who has a fever or is sick, you should stay home, not send a child to school, not attend a public event. Children die from this.” Hilden said there may be some resistance to getting the shots that combat flu and H1N1 because the vaccine is new. Some people may say, “’It’s not been tested yet.’ I think that is a valid concern that people can have anytime one of our doctors is going start poking needles

Get flu shot; Sick? Stay home
Dr. David Hilden (Left), and Mike Harristhal
Suluki Fardan

in them.” But the flu has been on scene for 50 years and the vaccination really does work, he said. Hennepin County Medical Center handles over 100,000 visits to the emergency room and has a clinic system that sees more than 350,000 visits. Emergency Room visits are unquestionably the most expensive end of the health care delivery system and some fear H1N1 epidemic level crises may overburden the system. The potential uptick in emergency room visits will at minimum create a huge financial hit for HCMC and public hospitals and clinics. Be that as it may, said Harristhal, HCMC administrators, while hoping for and promoting increased awareness and prevention, want to assure the public that the threat of costs will not deter the organization from serving those in need. People who are sick with flu like symptoms should come to the medical center or a neighborhood clinic, he said. In recent years, said public policy chief Harristhal, HCMC has operated on a breakeven budget, reflecting the commitment to be good stewards of the public dollar. “Unfortunately what is happening now, based on the activities of last year’s legislative session and Governor Pawlenty’s line item veto, the General Assistance Medical Care (GAMC)

program will experience a $43 million budget and services cut. Even the prospect of federal dollars from proposed health care reform initiatives may not be online in time to support services to the poor that are on the chopping block right now. “Minnesota has been a model for what is about to come out of the Federal Health Care reform,” Harristhal said. “Publicly supported insurance coverage for families up to one under 133% Federal poverty guidelines, would be an excellent way to get more people covered. But that coverage won’t kick in until 2014 and so we got a couple or three years to survive.” “It is interesting that while this national debate to include coverage for the poor is going on, Minnesota is moving to drop coverage for almost 35,000 who need coverage,” Harristhal said. “I understand our budgetary issues in Minnesota, which is why we work both sides of the aisle to come up with a workable solution. At the end of the day, a covered life is a healthier, more productive life, enabling a person to work and then able to pay taxes,” he said, encouraging citizens to contact state legislators to ask for legislation to protect those in need of healthcare.

McFarlane Ford Reader

October 12, 2009

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