The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on December 3, 1997 · Page 21
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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 21

West Palm Beach, Florida
Issue Date:
Wednesday, December 3, 1997
Page 21
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Page 21 article text (OCR)

20A THE PALM BEACH POST WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 1997 The Palm Beach Post TOM GlUFFRIDA. Publisher EDWARD SEARS, Editor LON DANIELSON, General Manager TOM O'HARA Managing Editor RANDY SCHULTZ, Editor of the Editorial Page JAN TUCKWOOD, Associate Editor TOM HIGHFIEID, VP Circulation LARRY SIEDLIK. XT & Treasurer GALE HOWDEN. Director, Community Relations BOB BALFE, Director, Production LINDA MURPHY, Director, Human Resources KEN WALTERS, Director, Marketing and Research 1 - m WpE Upon further review, the hospital The Palm Beach Post's editorial cartoonist, Don Wright, is on vacation. More a crap shoot than a miracle we'll keep oca Raton Community Hospital is not for sale. For that Boca Raton residents can take credit. Now, the community must also take responsibility for helping the hospital thrive. Last week, after a tumultuous year, the 23-member Boca Community board unanimously approved a three-year plan designed to keep the hospital independent. The 394-bed not-for-profit will consider more partners but no mergers. That means looking to other hospitals for services Boca Community does not provide open-heart surgery or certain cancer treatments, for example and for expanding services such as pediatrics. A chief operating officer, chief strategy officer and chief medical officer will join President and Chief Executive Officer Randy Pierce. It is a radical departure from last year, when Boca Community's board decided that the only way for the hospital to survive was to sell to a chain, as dozens of other not-for-profit hospitals were doing. Managed care and Medicare were reducing fees. Hospital chains were gobbling up weakened hospitals. The two largest Columbia HCAHealthcare Corp. and Tenet Healthcare Corp. were bidding for Boca Community. Had the hospital been sold to Columbia, the community would have gained a $250 million foundation that would have aided community causes. But Boca Community was not weak. It was debt-free and strong. Furthermore, half of the 12 board members had ties to Lynn University. Was there a plan to shift community assets from the hospital to the foundation to Lynn? When Boca Raton residents learned of the negotiations, they demanded details. The Florida attorney general Ohave tried to be charitable, to join the clamor, to crash my cymbals and sing hallelujah over the birth of seven babies to one Iowa couple. I've heard the septuplets' father, Kenny McCaughey, say: "God gave us those kids." I've heard Donna Shalala, secretary of health and human services, say she gives "total credit to God." Kathleen Parker I've tried to invoke his name, to proclaim a miracle. God, I've said, speak to me. Instead of his voice, I hear only my own inner snicker whispering one little word: Huh? God did not give Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey their septuplets. Modern medicine, fertility drugs and about 40 neonatal specialists did. The successful delivery of four girls and three boys after 31 weeks' gestation was a medical miracle. We can all rejoice that modern medicine is performing miracles. It's about time. Let's go for a cure for cancer by 2000, shall we? And AIDS. Get rid of it. But let's not start hallucinating the Shroud of Turin just because one couple took a drug and it worked. In the days following Bobbi McCaugh- ey's delivery of seven fragile babies by the hand of a surgeon, by the way Americans suddenly have rediscovered their peasant roots. Something unusual, if not mysterious, happens, and we run out As far as I can tell, God had a different plan. After all, without intervention, Bobbi McCaughey wouldn't have had septuplets. into the cornfield, gaze up at the clouds and see the hand of God. Or is that a swan with an eye patch? As far as I can tell, God had a different plan for the McCaugheys. After all, without medical intervention, they weren't able to get pregnant even with their first child, now 2 years old. God doesn't do barren anymore. He gave us brains so we could become chemists and invent fertility drugs. Ergo, he must have meant for the McCaugheys to have seven babies. Yeah, that's it. Wonder what God had in mind when he gave man the capacity to perform partial-birth abortions? Sorry to bring up something so unpleasant, but I could think of nothing else when President Clinton rang up the McCaugheys to share in the afterbirth hysteria. In one breath, the president condones a woman's "choice" to have a partial-birth abortion, wherein a baby more fully developed than the McCaugheys' largest baby is delivered halfway from his mother's womb and his brain suctioned. In the next, he's inviting the McCaugheys to bring their miraculous litter to the White House. How can one be a "choice" and the Residents blocked the sale of Boca Community a year ago. Today, hospital mergers don't seem so inevitable. asked for documents. The board backed down and quickly sought a more acceptable deal, agreeing to a $190 million offer from a consortium of Catholic not-for-profit hospitals that included Intra- coastal Health Systems, parent company of St. Mary's and Good Samaritan Medical Centers in West Palm Beach. By then, however, Boca Raton resi dents were suing to block any deal while it was determined whether the hospital could remain independent. Do nations decreased sharply. Since then, the health-care picture has changed somewhat. A consumer backlash has slowed the march of health maintenance organizations. A govern ment investigation of Columbia HCA Healthcare has damaged Columbia s credibility and caused all hospitals to turn cautious. The result for Boca Com munity has been a breather a chance to remember its mission. "There's been so much talk about the legal and financial asoects of health care lately," Mr. Pierce says. "The past year nas given us a chance to step back and be reminded of our values. We can't forget why we're here in the first place. Residents who hetoed build the 35- year-old hospital did not foreet that the core value is caring for people. Their decucation kept Boca Community independent. It will be their support, as much as any cost-cutting measure, that keeps it healthy. Instead of seeking amnesty, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela faced her accusers. More appeared than she expected. gress. Even Trevor Tutu, son of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the commission chairman, was granted amnesty and freed Friday from a 3'2-year prison sentence for a 1989 bomb threat. Claiming her innocence, Ms. Madikizela-Mandela chose not request am nesty by the commission deadline. She even waived the offer of a private hearing. A public hearing, she may have thought, would help boost her candidacy for ANC deputy president in elections later this month. Instead, she has sat stoically as former admirers sobbed for answers about dead or missing relatives whom she had labeled informers. She has heard former police testify they did nothing to stop her as she was "digging her own grave," and leaders of the ANC lament their inability to rein her in. Clearly damaged, she remains a fighter with instincts honed during 27 years of harassment and humiliation while her husband was jailed. This could be a classic case of blaming the victim. Except this victim now must prove she wasn't even more wrong. End apartheid's pain Helping America to work wonders D other be a miracle? Choice is the operative-word in our culture, regardless of ethical or J moral content. It's our choice to takel; fertility drugs and have multiple births regardless of whether we can care for a barn full of children. It's our choice to'l select which fetuses we'll keep and which !; ones we'll flush. It's our choice to invoke God when he suits our purposes. $ The truth is, neither the McCaugheys nor anyone else has any business taking '', fertility drugs that turn humans into Labra-dors. At this point, the process is little;; more than a medical crap shoot danger- ous to mothers, babies and society's rapidly diminishing store of common sense. Most !; multiple births don't turn out as well as the ; McCaugheys, if you can call seven babies on ventilators at a cost of about $750,000 by last estimate "turning out well." !; Ask Patti and Sam Frustaci, who 12 ! years ago also had septuplets. One was!; stillborn; three died 19 days later. The!; remaining three are physically and mental- j; ly handicapped. Did God like the McCaugh- '' eys better than the Frustacis? In medicine, ! as in a crap shoot, luck and chance are'j more likely than miracles. Lord knows, I wish every little," McCaughey the best. But I wish we'd stop;; talking about God every time we get our way. Besides, doctors already have a high enough opinion of themselves. Kathleen Parker is a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel. California Edison are both founding members and current directors, illustrates the benefits of collaboration between federal, state and local government, often in partnership with the private sector. Edison is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy to develop new electro-technologies, among them solar-thermal and photovoltaic power generation and fuel-cell applications. These technologies promise to provide economical sources of clean power in the next century. ; The Energy Department is also helping Edison underwrite a demonstration project that will lead to greater efficiency, reduced costs and dramatic reductions in emissions and waste byproducts in the energy-intensive aluminum recycling industry. Don't get us wrong. We don't discount the importance of reports of public-sector failures. But we take issue with those who jump to the easy conclusion that failure is the hallmark of American government. Failure is simply part of the mix in the public sector, just as it is in the private sector. We need to learn from our failures in both sectors, but we also need to learn from and celebrate our successes. The lesson of the public sector's successes in the last half of this century is that government has the capacity to address critical issues that affect the quality of our lives, especially when it leverages its resources with the creativity of the private sector. We should take this lesson forward with us into the 21st century. B John Adams co-directs the Natural Resources Defense Council. John E. Bryson is CEO of Edison International. They wrote this article for the Los Angeles Times. The "Mother of the Nation," it appears, is but another child of apartheid, and in another of South Africa's savage ironies, only Winnie Madikizela-Mandela can prove she wasn't as much victimizer as victim. Except for the fact that her accusers keep lining up, President Nelson Mandela's former wife might have testified last week to conclude her hearing before South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, or TRC. -When she takes the stand, she must answer a barrage of charges about leading a reign of terror from her Soweto home while her husband was in prison during the late 1980s. Members of her Mandela United Football Club, bodyguards who played no football, say she not only ordered executions but participated in savage beatings and murder. - The TRC's premise is that for decades under whites-only rule, South Africa's oppressed and oppressors alike were victims of one of the most abhorrent forms of ignorance: the notion of racial or cultural superiority. With apartheid's demise in 1994, South Africa wisely sought reconciliation rather than a war of retribution. Though armed with subpoena power, the TRC must refer allegations for prosecution. ' . The commission's real strength is that it can grant amnesty to those who confess to apartheid-era offenses. Dozens of policemen have. So have members of the ruling African National Con- The art of The Supreme Court isn't likely to help itself or the arts by reopening the question of whether the National Endowment for the Arts must demand "decency" in return for its grants. The justices have had so many problems of their own trying to define obscenity that they might suspect that giving NEA bureaucrats the mission will produce a clown act. The endowment has panels of artists review its grants, but that never prevents artistic differences with members of Congress. Congress tried in 1989 to stop the NEA from paying for what the most sensitive lawmakers consider dirty art. That law was slapped down as unconstitutional the first time it went to court. Congress tried again in 1990. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, found it unconstitutional. The administration appealed. That's the case the Supreme Court agreed to decide. The justices wouldn't have taken the case if some of them didn't think a new decision could h!p. It's hard to see how. The Supreme tourt won't define We must learn from our failures in the private and public sectors, but we also need to celebrate our successes. By John Adams and John E. Bryson mericans always have j been skentical of crnv- 1 o ernment. But for much of our history, we have balanced our skepticism with confidence in government's capacity to help us improve the quality of life. It is not often that the chief executive officer of an energy company and the head of a nonprofit organization focused on environmental protection can agree publicly on a matter of real significance. But we are united in our shared belief that government has earned the right to enjoy Americans' confidence. From construction of roads and canals in the 1800s to the GI Bill and Internet in this century, our history sparkles with examples of government initiatives that have improved the lives and widened the horizons of Americans. In the past 25 years, though, skepticism about government has been turning into cynicism. A steady barrage of negative news and anti-government political rhetoric has tended to obscure government's substantial contribution to our well-being. Public confidence in government has taken a beating. This is not good for any system of government. It is especially troubling for a democracy. We believe it's time for a reassessment. That is why we're joining a cross-section of national leaders and organizations that are the censor Justices haven't been able to define obscenity. They might suspect that the NEA would produce a clown act. obscenity or "general standards of decency" once and for all; it has tried often and always failed. In its decision, the appeals court cited as precedent a Supreme Court decision in 1995 that the University of Virginia could not disqualify a self-described Christian newspaper for a subsidy from student activity funds. The rule is that the government doesn't have to provide a platform for free speech, but if it provides one it can't keep users from speaking freely. Anyone who attempts to bend that rule gets tangled in questions of whose standards the censor should follow and who decides when he's wrong. If the Supreme Court tries to make the bend, the tangles will trap it. launching the Partnership for Trust in Government. Some of what government provides is as fundamental as the quality of the air we breathe or the water we drink. For example, when we started the Natural Resources Defense Council more than 25 years ago, swimming or fishing was safe in only about one-third of American waters, and sewage treatment plants served less than half of the population. Today, two-thirds of America's surveyed waters are safe for fishing and swimming, and modern waste water treatment plants serve 173 million people, more than double the earlier number. Thirty years ago, public concern over pollution prompted California to create the toughest air quality program in the country. Today, residents of the Los Angeles Basin, where smog was virtually invented, are breathing the cleanest air in decades. Or consider the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, which brings together electric and gas utilities, public interest groups and state energy offices in an effort to expand markets for energy-efficient technologies. The consortium, of which the Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern f

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