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Friday, July 30, 2010

Opinions

Ideas for an August “staycation”

Looking for something fun to do while you’re in Carlisle next month? Here are just a few low-cost things to do in our area.

Parks

Weekends at Great Brook Farm State Park there are public barn tours at 1 and 2 p.m. and milking tours at 3:30 p.m. The free tours are led by park Interpreter Lesya Struz. In addition, the childrens’ fishing program (see photo, page 20) will be repeated on Tuesday, August 10, from 4 – 5:30 p.m. Open to children aged 7 – 12, park staff will supply all needed gear and instruction. To sign up, call the park office at 1-978-369-6312. To check out summer programs and events at Great Brook and other parks throughout the state, visit online at www.mass.gov/dcr/events.htm.

The Minuteman National Park in Concord, Lincoln and Lexington has special events on weekends in August, including ranger talks, colonial re-enactments and guided walks of Battle Road Trail. See www.nps.gov/mima/planyourvisit/things2do.htm. Ranger talks are given at the Old North Bridge in Concord every hour at the half hour, seven days a week. Next door is the Old Manse, one of many interesting museums in Concord.

Library

For children three and up there are Read Alouds in August at Gleason Library, held Thursday mornings at 11 a.m. Teen volunteers and library pages will read storybooks aloud for half an hour, followed by a craft project. PJ Storytime is offered for ages three and up on Wednesday, August 4 from 7 to 8 p.m. No pre-registration is needed.

Outdoor concerts

The Indian Hill Big Band will perform on Carlisle’s Town Common on Sunday, August 29 at 3 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Council on Aging and the Carlisle Cultural Council.

The Sundown Concert Series will continue through August on the beautiful rural hilltop at the Fruitlands Museum in Harvard, Mass. Concerts start at 7 p.m. and will be held on Wednesdays, August 11 (Indie/fold rock by the Jeff Conley Band), 18 (50s music from The Love Dogs) and 25 (Rico Barr and the Jump n Jive Review swing band). For more information, check out www.fruitlands.org/calendar.

4-H Fair

Have you ever been to the Middlesex County 4-H Fair? Run by a large team of volunteers, it’s held just around the corner on the Westford Fairgrounds and runs Friday, August 27 through Sunday, August 29. Besides the expected things like the horse show, cattle and sheep judging, there are rabbit races, a cock crowing contest, a corn shucking contest, hay rides, a magic show, face painting, story telling and childrens games.

Children in area 4-H clubs compete for blue ribbons in animal husbandry and “static” categories, such as food, flowers, art, needlework, crafts, photography or creative writing. For more information on the fair, see www.middlesexcounty4hfair.org. For a map to the fairgrounds, see www.westford.com/4h/fair.htm. To learn more about 4-H programs nearby, call Extension Educator Wendy Marks at the UMASS Eastern Extension Center (1-781-891-0650 x 29). ∆

Reality check-up

My doctor recently referred me to a specialist and suggested I see him “ASAP.” I phoned to make an appointment and the soonest he could see me was six weeks away. I thought, OK, that should be soon enough. On the appointed day, I arrived for my appointment and checked in. The triage nurse ushered me to an exam room and did her thing; weight, BP, brief questionnaire and temperature. She was interrupted by knocks on the door, and ended up asking my name and birth date three separate times and taking my temperature twice. She left and said the doctor would see me shortly. After 35 minutes, I was asked whether the doctor had seen me yet. I heard the doctor paged twice over the next 25 minutes, and he finally arrived, apologizing profusely in nearly perfect English. He spent the next ten minutes reviewing my medical history, and then a knock on the door called him away again. When he returned, he mumbled something about it being “a crazy day.” We finally got down to discussing the reason for my visit and, after another brief interruption, we concluded our discussion. I left the building 2.5 hours after arriving for a 20 minute consult.

I don’t encounter the health care system that often, and it’s been a while since I have been to see a doctor, but it struck me that this visit may be a harbinger of things to come. I worked in health care for 40 years and understand the three legs of health care policy: Quality, Cost, and Access. It is axiomatic that we may enjoy any two of the three. In the US, we arguably have the highest quality and fairly easy access, which brings with it the highest costs on the planet. The high cost has been a rationale for fixing our “broken” system. We have now added 32 million more “consumers” to the mix and the results will be predictable. First, the caregivers will steadfastly maintain the high QUALITY we have become accustomed to. Next, the COST will continue to rise as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office and health care economists. Third, with 32 million more souls seeking to relieve pent-up demand, and little increase in caregivers, our ACCESS will significantly deteriorate. When I mentioned the word “rationing” to one of my friends over lunch during the debate leading up to passage of the reform bill, he said “rationing is a loaded word”, as though I was trying to scare him. Well, get ready to enter into the “scary” period when it comes to seeking care.

Don’t despair, however. I have two solutions to propose: one is high tech and one is low tech. The high tech solution is Books on Tape. The selection is endless, and most will entertain for three hours while waiting to see a doctor. The low tech solution is cross word puzzles. I recommend the “USA Today Giant Book of Easy Crossword Puzzles” which has 280 puzzles and should get you through at least 20 doctor visits. For back up, you may even wish to have one of those electronic, hand-held language translators. It might just save your life.

 

 

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