Monday, September 13, 2010

Community at the Cookoff!

Community General Hospital's team took first place in the United Way's Kickoff Cookoff! last week at the CNY Regional Market. The winning entry was a chocolate-banana-graham cracker icebox cake (recipe, below).

Community took first-place Cookoff! honors in 2004 with the "famed Friday" macaroni & cheese. Since then, our team has settled for second place finishes with chili (2005), chicken wings (2006), and Jello prism dessert (2009).

That's Community's team in the photo with their bucket hats, tie-died shirts, and the Big Banana (really, John Carnowski). Others in the photo are, from left: Hector Ramos, Pauline Warboy, Mark Siegel, Judy Piedmonte, Jeanne Waldron, Tracey Fenner, and Kristin Schofield.

Here is how to make the chocolate-banana-graham-cracker icebox cake:

Makes one 5-by-10-inch cake
Serves 8 to 10.
• 15 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
• 5 large egg yolks
• Salt
• 3 cups heavy cream
• 20 graham cracker sheets
• 4 or 5 ripe bananas, very thinly sliced lengthwise
• Garnish: whipped cream

1. Line a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place yolks and a pinch of salt in another heatproof bowl.

2. Bring cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Slowly pour cream into bowl with yolks, whisking constantly; return mixture to saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 8 minutes (mixture should not come to a boil). Immediately strain through a fine sieve set over chocolate; stir until chocolate melts and is smooth. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 4 hours.

3. Spread 1 cup chocolate mixture evenly into bottom of loaf pan. Top with a layer of 4 graham crackers, trimmed to fit. Spread 1/2 cup chocolate over tops, and cover with some bananas. Spread 1/2 cup chocolate over bananas, and top with a layer of 4 trimmed graham crackers. Repeat with remaining chocolate, bananas, and graham crackers until you reach the top of the pan; finish with graham crackers.

4. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Uncover, and turn out onto a serving platter. Remove plastic wrap. Garnish with whipped cream, and cut into slices.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Medicare's "flawed formula"

Dr. David Page recently had a call-to-arms message in the Post-Standard. He spoke about a pending 30% cut in payments doctors receive for taking care of Medicare patients. Here are excerpts from Dr. Page's letter-to-the-editor.
America’s 46 million elderly and disabled patients, as well as military families, are at the center of what once was a yearly battle to preserve their access to health care. This year, that struggle became a quarterly — and at times a monthly — skirmish that has damaged Medicare’s credibility among patients and their doctors.

At the core of this struggle is a flawed formula that controls what Medicare pays physicians for the care of elderly and disabled patients.

* * *

By law, the formula required Medicare to slash physician payment by more than 21 percent this year. Congress knew such a cut would devastate elderly and disabled patients’ access to health care. So legislators have stumbled through this year — at first delaying the pay cut for a few weeks, then allowing the cut to take effect for a few weeks, then stepping in to pass a temporary, retroactive pay fix, then allowing the cut to take effect again before passing a second, temporary, retroactive fix.

This latest fix — without another Congressional intervention — will end Nov. 30. Worse, physicians will face a 30 percent pay cut next year.

This unrelenting threat is destabilizing the Medicare system for patients whose doctors — particularly primary care doctors — work in small- and medium-sized practices, often in underserved areas and with small or no operating margins.

* * *

No other sector of the health care system is routinely subjected to this variability and uncertainty. It’s time to end the month-to-month uncertainty that undermines patients’ confidence in Medicare and disrupts physicians’ ability to provide ongoing care. It’s time to infuse some stability into a system on which more than 46 million Americans depend.
Dr. Page is a family physician who practices in Camillus, NY. A long time member of the Medical Staff at Community General Hospital, he serves on the hospital's Board of Directors. He is President of the FamilyCare Medical Group, PC, which was honored last year by the Community General Foundation. Dr. Page is Vice President of the Onondaga County Medical Society.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Again, Community has low rates of infection

Earlier this week the New York State Department of Health reported infection rates for hospitals statewide.

Community General Hospital has again posted low infection rates when compared with other hospitals, both statewide and locally.

For colon surgery infections, Community had statically significant low rates of infections. For hip infections and central line-associated blood stream infections (CLABSI), Community's infection rates were well below the state average. The charts below show CGH's infection rates in comparison with the three other non-federal Syracuse hospitals, labeled A, B, and C.

The source of these data is the Department of Health's report Hospital-Acquired Infections, New York 2009.

Ice cream for volunteers

Each year some 475 volunteers donate about 55,000 hours of service at Community General Hospital.

Community's staff recently acknowledged the everyday contributions of volunteers with a late summer ice cream treat.

Thank you, volunteers.