Sunday, December 28, 2008

Corruption Crisis in Illinois

The "corruption crisis" in Illinois probably runs south of I-80.

Here is an article by the Peoria Journal Star emphasizing that what our Governor has touched may be tainted.

See comments that follow.

Corruption crisis creates confusion in Illinois

Associated Press
Posted Dec 27, 2008 @ 03:40 PM

Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has made a point of regularly going to work at his office in Chicago. He has signed legislation and issued pardons. He has sent out press releases about predatory lending and fighting poverty.

But his arrest on federal corruption charges has clearly complicated his work as the state's chief executive and already cost the state some $20 million. The state is facing a potential $2.5 billion budget deficit and the governor doesn't have the same horsepower — or clout — to address the problem that he had just a month ago.

No one in the state capital trusts Blagojevich enough to give him authority to trim the budget on his own, as he requested in November. Any other idea he advances would probably be rejected out of hand. Yet no other official can take the lead.

"Everything just comes to a halt. You have complete paralysis," said House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego.

Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat, was arrested Dec. 9 on charges accusing him of scheming to swap President-elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat for profit, shaking down a hospital executive for campaign donations and other wrongdoing.

The governor has defiantly insisted he's done nothing wrong and that he will not resign. His aides say he is going about business as usual.

His chief of staff, who was arrested along with Blagojevich, has resigned and been replaced by a deputy governor. Another deputy, one with a background in budget matters, has resigned and may not be replaced. Plus, a committee is expected to recommend in early January whether the state House should vote to impeach Blagojevich.

"I think it's difficult for him to manage government in the way a governor normally would," said state Rep. Gary Hannig, a Democrat from Litchfield. "This is a time when you need strong leadership from the governor's office."

The state must find a way to eliminate its deficit. If nothing is done, the most likely outcome is that it won't pay its debts to hospitals, pharmacies and nursing homes that care for the poor, forcing more of them out of business.

The problem cropped up two weeks ago when an effort to borrow money to pay overdue bills — one social-service vendor was owed $8 million and garbage collection stopped for 10 days at a state prison last month — was sidelined because the state attorney general's office refused to give immediate consent.

The delay — blamed on the governor's legal woes — cost Illinois $20 million in extra interest, according to Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias. Because the short-term borrowing plan was put off for several days after Blagojevich's arrest, the state ended up paying higher interest rates.

Standard & Poor's recently put out a negative "credit watch" on the state's AA bond rating, noting the budget deficit and the governor's legal situation could hamper efforts to find a remedy.

The governor's budget director declined an interview request. Blagojevich spokesman Lucio Guerrero said the governor is expected to soon get an update on the budget deficit — including potential solutions — from his staff.

"I think the governor has shown that he continues to govern the state and is performing his duties," he said.

Critics acknowledge that government will grind on despite Blagojevich's problems. State police will patrol. The Revenue Department will collect taxes. Snowplow crews will clear highways.

But when an emergency hits, Illinois will lack a real leader to solve the problem and smaller problems may pile up in the meantime.

Will Blagojevich be able to find people willing to serve under him on the boards and commissions that help set policy? Would those appointments even be approved? Can he hold on to his current staff and agency directors? If he delivers a State of the State address, will anyone even attend, let alone seriously consider his proposals?

"Everything he touches is tainted," said Jay Stewart, executive director of the Better Government Association in Chicago. "We know his thought process: Legal, personal, political. I don't see public interest anywhere in that."

Blagojevich won't be able to call on federal officials for help, even though Obama and some top officials in his incoming administration are from Illinois and Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., is the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate.

And though Obama plans a huge public works program next year, Illinois may not be in position to get its share. State officials have failed year after year to approve construction money that would qualify for federal matching funds. That appears unlikely to change.

Some of the governor's critics say his new problems actually won't mean a dramatic change for Illinois because he wasn't trusted or deeply involved in government even before his arrest.

"We've been leaderless for a long time," said Sen. Christine Radogno, R-Lemont. "Consequently, our state is floundering."
Associated Press Writers John O'Connor in Springfield and Deanna Bellandi in Chicago contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2008 GateHouse Media, Inc. Some Rights Reserved.
Original content available for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license, except where noted.



In 2007 the Illinois Finance Authority (IFA) under Governor Blagojevich loaned OSF-Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria 460 million dollars for OSF's Milestone Project. This was the second largest loan in IFA history.

I wonder if this loan was tainted?

John A. Carroll, M.D.



Blagojevich is the governor until he is convicted or impeached. If any problems are arising it's from Legislature and the other government officials. Business as usual until this is settled, anyone refusing to work with him should be relieved of duties. At present the Legislature is busy putting back all the cuts despite the fact we can't pay for essentials. That is how we got in this mess and we will remain there as long as the same thieves are in the General Assembly. The governor got caught, but don't think for a minute he is the biggest crook. He had problems with members of legislature because he wouldn't co-operate with their brand of self help. All government is corrupt that is how business is handled. No state has wiped out corruption their elected officials just learned how to be more discrete. Every now and then one gets careless like the stupid move he made using his home phone.

Dr. Carroll..I do agree with you and your view of OSF. I doubt the money is tainted from Blagojevich. That would more come from some back scratching in our local area. The governor may have signed the necessary legislation, the crafting of it probably is closer to home. I thought OSF planned on fleecing the general public out of donations for their huge project. We both know the non-profit hospital is just a feeder for their many for profit enterprises. At least it's a loan, at some point tax payers will get it back unless OSF can figure a way around that. I have nothing but respect for the hard working staff of OSF, their corporate officials have one interest and that is profit at the expense of the patient.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Beyond Belief

Haiti had a bad 2008.

Maybe next year...

Now Katina....

When I was in Haiti last month I examined Katina.

Katina is sick and needs heart surgery again.

OSF in Peoria is rejecting her. She has sickle cell and a large lymph node on the right side of her neck. She needs to come to the United States for a good workup and surgery.

I don't have any place for her. Other medical centers don't want OSF's patients.

Here is a chat I had with Frandy yesterday regarding Katina:

12:22 PM Dejean: Hi dr Carroll
12:23 PM me: frandy,
how is katina? what is her problem??
12:24 PM Dejean: yes i am here and i've a couple of information for you
me: ok
12:25 PM Dejean: i got on the phone with her before yesterday and also this morning
me: good
Dejean: she's not doing well
me: tell me exactly what you mean
Dejean: ok
12:26 PM she's a stomac problem
12:27 PM and she feels it where she was operated on
me: please answer these questions:
Dejean: ok
12:28 PM me: 1. Is she short of breath? Soufle anle?
Dejean: no
me: 2. Does she have pain in her chest or abdomen? Li gen doule nan lestomak oubyen vant la?
Dejean: yes she does
12:29 PM me: 3. Is the boul on her neck still large? In other words, li toujour gen gwo mas la sou kou a?
4. Does she have a fever?
Dejean: yes and it is hurting her
no she does not any fever
12:30 PM she does not have any fever
me: Frandy, please tell her father that she needs a chest xray.
Dejean: ok
me: We have to find out why she has the enlarged lymph node on her neck.
12:31 PM Dejean: ok
me: thank you
Dejean: but do you think an xray would help you to find it out?
me: She can get the chest xray at Grace Children's or in a lab near Champ Mars
12:32 PM Dejean: ok
me: If she has tuberculosis, we could see tuberculosis in her lung (chest xray). Some times people have tuberculosis in their lungs and they have a lump on their neck....
12:33 PM Dejean: ok
me: The chest xray is the most important thing to do STAT...
12:34 PM Frandy, I will go for now, ok?
Dejean: ok i am gonna tell her dad everything
me: thanks
Dejean: see you later
me: many thanks
Dejean: life is important to save!
me: yes
12:36 PM Dejean: you don't have to thanks me, you better thanks God for the way He helped you to save mine and for this great family i have in St louis.

Stupid Deaths, by Paul Farmer

I believe in health care as a human right. I've worked as a doctor in many places, and I've seen where to be poor means to be bereft of rights.

I saw early on, still just a medical student, the panicky dead-end faced by so many of the destitute sick: a young woman dying in childbirth; a child writhing in the spasms of a terrible disease for which a vaccine has existed — for more than a century; a friend whose guts were irreparably shredded by bacteria from impure water; an 8 year old caught in cross-fire. Li mouri bet — what a stupid death, goes one Haitian response.

Fighting such "stupid deaths" is never the work of one, or even of a small group. I've had the privilege of joining many others providing medical care to people who would otherwise not be able to get it. The number of those eager to serve is impressive, and so is the amount that can be accomplished. I believe that stupid deaths can be averted; we've done it again and again. But this hard and painful work has never yet been an urgent global priority.

The fight for health as a human right, a fight with real promise, has so far been plagued by failures. Failure because we are chronically short of resources. Failure because we are too often at the mercy of those with the power and money to decide the fates of hundreds of millions. Failure because ill health, as we have learned again and again, is more often than not a symptom of poverty and violence and inequality — and we do little to fight those when we provide just vaccines, or only treatment for one disease or another. Every premature death, and there are millions of these each year, should be considered a rebuke.

I know it's not enough to attend only to the immediate needs of the patient in front of me. We must also call attention to the failures and inadequacy of our own best efforts. The goal of preventing human suffering must be linked to the task of bringing others, many others, into a movement for basic rights.

The most vulnerable — those whose rights are trampled, those rarely invited to summarize their convictions for a radio audience — still believe in human rights, in spite of — or perhaps because of — their own troubles. Seeing this in Haiti and elsewhere has moved me deeply and taught me a great deal.

I move uneasily between the obligation to intervene and the troubling knowledge that much of the work we do, praised as "humanitarian" or "charitable," does not always lead us closer to our goal. That goal is nothing less than the refashioning of our world into one in which no one starves, drinks impure water, lives in fear of the powerful and violent, or dies ill and unattended.

Of course such a world is a utopia, and most of us know that we live in a dystopia. But all of us carry somewhere within us the belief that moving away from dystopia moves us towards something better and more humane. I still believe this.

(Dr. Paul Farmer is a founding director of Partners In Health, an international organization that provides health care to people living in poverty. Farmer established a health clinic in Hinche, Haiti, and has worked there for many years.)

Photo by John Carroll, Carefour, Haiti. November, 2008.

Independently produced for Weekend Edition Sunday by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman with John Gregory and Viki Merrick.

Christmas 2008, by Joe Zelenka

Christmas 2008

Another year and wondering what the future holds
So much to do and accomplish in so little time
Will I hear God calling me?
Will I stand up for justice?
Touch me Lord, Heal me, Come into my life

Christmas 2008

A newly elected President
A time for change
Putting behind us 8 years of turmoil and violence
Will we come together and create a new tomorrow?
Will we overcome hatred, bitterness and exploitation of others?
Will there be reason to hope?
Touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives

Christmas 2008

Wars continue, racism still exists and hatred escalates into more violence
An economy that threatens our very existence
Our children look to us for hope
Will we give their world reason to believe in goodness?
Will our children inherit a world without war and violence?
We have a challenge
We have time to make this Gospel of nonviolence real
Touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives

Christmas 2008

We have a mandate to feed the hungry and eradicate poverty
Will we make real the Gospel message?
Will our Churches preach the Gospel of nonviolence?
Will we work to make Jesus real in our lives?
Touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives

Christmas 2008

Praise God daily, celebrate life
Pray a lot, laugh a lot, believe in yourself
See in every person you meet the person of God
Forgive, Forgive and Forgive
See everyone as made in the image of God
Make this Christmas a new beginning
And so, touch us Lord, Heal us, Come into our lives.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Need To Get Over This

Heurese is doing well after her surgery.

As readers of this blog know, Haitian Hearts started on the “Heurese project” in the middle of this past summer.

Please see Maria’s post regarding how Frandy “found” Heurese in Port-au-Prince…a city of 3,000,000 people. The story is almost unbelieveable. And if it didn’t happen in Haiti, I might not believe it.

And readers, please tell me if I should still be disppointed with all of the people of means in Peoria that denied medical care to Heurese. Maybe my disappointment should go away.

Maybe it is my problem.

Am I making too much of a big deal out of the fact that Heurese was repeatedly turned down by the very people that should have been helping her?

And Frandy, one of the poorest kids in the Western Hemisphere is the one that goes the distance for Heurese.

Intuition would not lead me to believe this.

I was not taught this during 14 years of Catholic education. And the priests, Bishops, and their homilies at mass do not say to walk away from people like Heruese. They all say to embrace her.

And OSF, our big Catholic medical center in Peoria, says their mission is to deny no one. But they do. And my Haitian kids are dying in Haiti.

But Frandy gave Heurese some more time that she hadn’t banked on.

I need to be thankful to God for Heurese and Frandy and get over this.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hiding News is Not Good

The Journal Star published this editorial on December 15.

If the Journal cannot send reporters to Darfur, that is understandable. But they shouldn't hide news happening several miles from their front door.

Journal Star
Posted Dec 15, 2008 @ 10:30 PM

PEORIA — Between Barack Obama running his pre-presidency out of the Windy City and bringing all sorts of global movers and shakers into town, and Rod Blagojevich - no further explanation necessary - Chicago is the media hub of the universe these days.

In a news city, arguably there's never been so much news.

Ironic, then, that at the same time so much is happening and people seem to have such a thirst to know more about it, the city's flagship newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Oh, well, at least the Trib isn't begging for a bailout.

It's a sign of the times, of course. News organizations across the spectrum of print and broadcast are struggling like never before, for a variety of reasons: the dismal economy, certainly; the overwhelming number of choices for fickle and unforgiving consumers, which makes it more difficult to draw sustainable market share; the competition from the Internet; the strain on customers' time; sometimes ownership's lack of appreciation for the unique demands of this business; the cultural changes in reading and spending habits and a sense that all information is equal and ought to be free.

To be sure, newspapers and other media aren't perfect any more than any human endeavor is, and some of their injuries are self-inflicted. But it still takes people and resources to go out and gather the news, organize it so it makes sense and distribute it, no matter the vehicle of delivery. It doesn't just happen spontaneously, effortlessly, without cost. Covering the Peoria City Council or the District 150 School Board or the Illinois Legislature - at least adequately - is not really something you can outsource to Bangalore, India, or do part-time, though some will no doubt try.

The risk of these unprecedented challenges to the industry is that the kind of investigative journalism that for decades has been uncovering the hard to get - the less-than-ethical exploits of an Illinois governor, or the abuses of an Enron, or the crimes of a Nixon administration, or the genocide of a helpless and innocent population far away - will just go away because it doesn't contribute enough to the bottom line, because the payoff isn't guaranteed up-front, because the potential return doesn't justify the commitment of time.

What this means for Americans is that we don't know what we don't know. Governments and institutions that in many cases would prefer to never have the light shine on their affairs will do things to us, and not always in our best interests. The decisions most make will be less informed. And that's dangerous in a democracy.


rjd 2 days ago

The biggest problem with 'news' today is that a lot of it is actually editorial in nature. It's alot of political spin. Case in point, the JS's recent AK47 article. Nothing but a spin. Completely unfactual. A misleading article, to say the very least. People are not going to pay good money for a 'spin' rag. Most of the news media no longer reports the news. Why have a NEWSpaper then?

RealWorld 22 hours ago

I agree RJD. I would care if the newspapers went out of business if they already were not in the pocket of politicians and local money men.

I was personally glad to see the Chicago Trib go under. Really glad. Wouldn't it be funny if a newspaper started that actually gave people the real news, not just the stories that the editors say they can print. Since the reporters are such Private I's, why didn't the tribune know about Blago? Why didn't they report it?

haitianhearts 37 minutes ago

"What this means for Americans is that we don't know what we don't know. Governments and institutions that in many cases would prefer to never have the light shine on their affairs will do things to us, and not always in our best interests. The decisions most make will be less informed. And that's dangerous in a democracy."

Like most newspapers, the Journal Star does hide what they want to hide.

For more than a decade the Journal Star has been against the Peoria Fire Department (PFD) upgrading its services to provide better care for people who call 911 in medical emergencies. Peorias three hospitals did not want the upgrade and the three hospitals advertise a lot in the Journal. This summer when the PFD was finally allowed to upgrade their services for Peorians, the Journal printed not a word of this.

And when OSF stopped Haitian kids from returning with the Haitian Hearts program to OSF for repeat heart surgery, Haitian kids have died. And when surgeries were delayed for Haitian kids in Peoria, Haitian kids in Peoria have suffered. But the Journal did not report these local crimes. The Journal Star reporters knew about these events but were stopped from reporting.

Yes, Journal Star Editors, local institutions will do things to us that our not in our best interest. And for you to hide the light on their affairs only makes sure 'we don't know what we don't know'.

John A. Carroll, M.D.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

OSF Will Pay

OSF will have to pay for their abandonment of Haitian kids.

OSF’s negligence towards Heurese and many others like her is immoral.

The Catholic Bishops and local business leaders will not be the answer here. They are all using each other.

And the poor relatives of the Haitians involved have no say so at all. They don’t have condos in south Florida and can barely feed themselves.

My guess is that the economy will take OSF down. Business deals won’t go as planned and loans will be harder to pay off. OSF’s business friends will leave them and union workers will have preferred providers elsewhere.

Even the Peoria Journal Star will leave OSF's side.

OSF has driven away good physicians to other areas of the country as OSF has controlled our local medical market but forgotten why they were founded. Individual patient care and care for the community are not OSF’s priorities, no matter what OSF says in their advertisements.

OSF is very misleading. I was mislead for two decades.

Power, money, and corruption are driving forces at OSF in Peoria. There is an intricate web of deception in place here.

OSF’s administrators Keith Steffen and Paul Kramer need to go. But will they? Probably not as long as they make money for OSF. But if they make a bad business deal, they are gone. The Catholics have put them up to be their fall guys, and when they fall, they will fall hard.

OSF is managed by hypocrites.

I think the Sisters should sell while they can. They had to sell their HealthPlans to Humana. Time is a wastin'.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Heurese Has Surgery

Dear Reader(s),

Heurese had heart surgery today. Her chest was closed around noon and all went very well.

She is the owner of a new heart valve.

Heurese received state of the art medical treatment by the medical center and state of the art love by her host family.

I will have more on Heurese's courageous struggle that never gave up and lead her to the operating room today.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Will OSF let Katina Die Too?

I examined Katina in Haiti just recently. She needs to return to OSF Children's Hospital for more heart surgery. Katina was operated at OSF in 2002.

OSF has denied all Haitian Hearts' patients that were operated at OSF repeat heart surgery. Two have died.

OSF is in the middle of their hospital expansion that will cost about $500 million. They got a loan from Governor Blagojevich to help out. OSF also had a lobbyist work with Stuart Levine on the Illinois Health Facilities Board to have another OSF project approved. Mr. Levine is in jail now.

OSF is a very busy medical center with alot of its interest at the state level. I doubt they will let Katina back in for heart surgery that she desperately needs. And OSF was founded for people like Katina.

Let me know if you have any ideas what to do to help Katina and many others like her that I am following in Haiti. Other hospitals are not excited about operating on OSF's heart patients from Haiti. They have told me so. (Katina was rejected by a well known medical center in Texas yesterday.)

It is not easy finding another medical center for Katina.

Please help.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Mirterlande Makes It

Well, our young 16 year old girl Mirterlande made it through surgery. She is up and walking and acting like nothing happended. She will be discharged from the hospital today. (See Maria's description of Mirterlande's saga on Live from Haiti.)

The tiny muscles and tendons that support her mitral valve in her heart were all “scrunched up” (medical term) and destroyed from her previous rheumatic fever. As these muscles became distorted over the last few years, the valve leaflets also were injured and the leaflets did not open and close the way they were designed. So with each beat of her heart, blood was regurgitating up into her lung and then, when the heart rests in diastole, too much blood would rush down into her left ventricle which caused it to swell and become weak.

Clinically, because of the above scenario, Mirterlande was barely able to walk because she was in congestive heart failure. When Haitian Hearts first examined her two years ago in Haiti, she was much more robust appearing. She has lost alot of weight due to cardiac cachexia. And she survived a month in the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince earlier this year when she was critically ill and treated for severe heart failure.

Her mother lives in the Artibonite Valley in Haiti and could not provide care for her. The tropical storms washed away her mother's garden in the Valley. So Mirterlande was living in Port-au-Prince with her older sister Karmin who saved her life multiple times during the last couple of years.

Many thoughts rush through my head each time I see one of my Haitian patients asleep on the operating table in the US. I think of all the suffering they have had. I think of what all their families back in Haiti have been through just to keep them alive. When a family member is sick in Haiti, the entire family is stressed. A cow may need to be sold and other family members need to do without.

In the hospital this week, the surgeons and heart surgery team in the operating room worked as a family to save Mirterlande’s life. They have worked for decades together and made a very difficult surgery look routine. The perfusionist, anesthesiologist, and surgeons are constantly talking to each other about the patient’s status during the case. There is no radio playing music, no one is listening to the city council chirp in the background, and there is no idle talk in the operating room.

All eyes and thoughts were on Mirterlande lying in the middle of the cold room.

After surgery, as Mirterlande was wheeled down the hall adjacent to the operating room, in a seamless fashion the cardiovascular intensive care team took control from the operating room team. They are all professionals and know how to troubleshoot any problem that may arise in the early hours after surgery.

This is not the biggest medical center in the world, but it is the best medical center in the world for Mirterlande and many others like her.

In reality, Mirterlande had to wait too long in Haiti for this surgery. And she should have been able to have this surgery in Haiti by Haitian physicians.

And if I really want to be honest, Mirterlande should not have got rheumatic fever in the first place. But poverty breeds diseases like this that steal away young people like this one. However Mirterlande so far has cheated poverty out of another innocent victim.