In Our View: Cheers & Jeers

Finding a ‘medical home’ helps all; don’t take hitchhikers camping

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Cheers: To health care reform that saves money and improves health. One experiment that seems to be bearing fruit is the “medical home” system being pioneered locally by PeaceHealth and Southwest Washington Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Legacy Health System and Providence Medical Group.

The idea is to meet many of a patient’s needs in one location, improving communication and lowering costs. So far, patients are having more contact with their home base, but much less with costly specialists and expensive emergency rooms.

And the best part is, the patients like it because they can form bonds with their health care providers.

Jeers: To more foot-dragging by the Vancouver City Council on updating its ethics policy. After another workshop this week, the council agreed to — yes — schedule another workshop. We get that councilors may not want to offend each other, worry about partisanship and the abridgement of free speech, or find the whole idea of regulating themselves to be distasteful.

But the discussion of the policy update has been going on for months; better to settle it and focus attention on pressing issues such as providing cost-effective services to taxpayers. It’s worth noting that Washougal’s city council adopted its own ethics policy this week after a similar bout of angst.

Cheers: To organizers of the inaugural Vancouver USA Marathon. More than 1,000 runners attempted the entire 26.2-mile course last Sunday, and another 1,800 registered for the half-marathon. Both events went well, with trained athletes from around the country participating as well as many first-timers.

The event proved to be a winner for promoting both healthy living and our great community.

Jeers: To unwanted hitchhikers in firewood. A study finds more than a dozen threatening insects and tree diseases can be carried in firewood. That’s why the Washington Invasive Species Council and other groups are teaming up to warn campers and hunters not to transport firewood away from home. It may be cheaper to throw a few chunks of your old cedar tree in the back of the truck before you head for the mountains, but it could cause trouble later.

The good news is, a study by Oregon State University finds that the public is receptive to the message to buy firewood locally to prevent infestations.

Cheers: To MyEncoreYears.org, a new website and help line aimed at providing a one-stop shop of senior-related services to Clark County seniors — services such as finding appropriate housing, health care, transportation, support services and activities. The concept was developed by the Leadership Clark County group with the help of a variety of service providers and agencies. It’s the first local portal of its kind that can help people find the information and contacts they need. Don’t use the Internet? There’s a telephone hot line, 888-637-6060, run by the Southwest Washington Agency on Aging and Disability.

Jeers: To gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. An Associated Press story notes the state’s attorney general has recently been citing statistics on state government costs that don’t hold up to analysis. He claims, for example, that every year from 1998 to 2008, the state increased the amount it spent on every employee by at least 5 percent. State data show the actual figure is 3.6 percent.

Confronted with the faulty math, McKenna issued a statement that did not address his statistics but reiterated his concern that the state spends too much on employees. He could be right. That’s why we hope a smart, appealing candidate like McKenna won’t resort to political tricks when facts will serve better.