The Friday Four seeks to highlight some of the people behind some of the interesting stories I stumble upon during my daily search for relevant content. This week's list features an adorable toddler, a politician, among others. Happy Friday!
1. Grace Anna Rodgers –- My favorite kind of writing seeks to analyze and inform. Fiction, poetry, and feel-good features don’t resonate with me as much as they did when I was in my early twenties and late teens. I can’t really explain why, but it’s clear my tastes have changed. However, I found myself moved by the amazing story of Grace Anna Rodgers. The 3-year-old Kentucky toddler has dealt with some serious health issues over the course of her life. However, she hasn't let them deter her from achieving internet stardom. This past year, her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was a hit on YouTube.
Rodgers has a rare form of dwarfism called Conradi-Hunermann. She is short for her age, her legs are uneven in length, she cannot walk, and she suffers from scoliosis. Her health problems are so serious that Rodgers almost died in 2012 following a surgery to repair her spine. Nevertheless, 2013 was a turning point for the young girl, and her health has improved quite a bit. She’s also singing now more than ever before.
Again, feel-good/heartwarming stories aren’t always my favorite to read. Yes, I recognize the appeal. It’s just that I don’t usually pay very close attention to many of them. The story of Grace Anna Rodgers, however, is a notable exception. Reading about her, her dogged fight to overcome myriad ailments, and her ability to entertain and inspire others with her singing has been one of the highlights of my week.
2. Andrew Cuomo -– I has never heard of Cuomo before this week. Apparently, he’s the Governor of New York. I discovered this fact when his administration unveiled legislation meant to protect the state’s hospital patients engaged in disputes over medical bills. Under the proposed laws, patients would not be responsible for bills normally not covered by their health insurance in emergencies and scheduled surgeries where they weren’t informed that specialists involved (like radiologists and anesthesiologists) weren’t part of their insurer’s network. Instead, the onus would be on the insurance company, doctor, or hospital to address billing disputes. Unresolved situations would be dealt with by an independent arbitrator. Furthermore, insurers would have to permit access to out-of-network providers if they didn't have someone within their provider network with appropriate training and experience to meet the patient's needs.
As someone who lives with a (somewhat irrational) fear of going bankrupt thanks to an ill-timed and expensive medical emergency, I applaud Governor Cuomo’s efforts to protect patients from big hospital bills they can’t afford or avoid. It’s a significant problem, one where patients often find themselves powerless and devoid of reasonable options when they are in the middle of monetary disputes between healthcare providers and insurance carriers.
3. Nancy Schlichting -- Henry Ford Hospital is not a typical medical center. Located in West Bloomfield, Mich. and near Detroit, the facility gives off a vibe similar to that of a luxury hotel. Schlichting is the hospital's CEO, and she takes pride in the fact that the facility treats every patient like he or she is a valued guest. The one-of-a-kind hospital features several amenities (including on-site greenhouse). In order to achieve her goal of creating a destination hospital, Schlichting hired an executive from Ritz-Carlton to design and run the $360 million facility.
Above all else, a hospital should serve to address the needs of its patients. However, those needs extend beyond the injuries and illnesses that cause them to end up in the hospital. It's not enough to diagnose and treat. Hospitals should seek to positively influence the healing process in as many ways as possible. I know sometimes it's the little things -- those which are entirely unrelated to what ails me -- that help me feel better when I'm under the weather.
Catch a glimpse of the facility and listen to Schlichting describe its mission in the video below:
4. Irma Myers-Santana and Anna Williamson -- The two sisters were in great need of lung transplants. Earlier this month, they ended up in the same operating room and received lungs from the same donor. Myers-Santana and Williamson both suffer from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a scarring of the lungs that often requires a transplant. What makes their story even more interesting is the fact that both women are Jehovah's Witnesses and do not believe in receiving blood transfusions. They needed a "bloodless" transplant, and Houston Methodist Hospital is the only facility in the country that does them. As a result, they were forced to travel from California to Texas for the procedure. Now, less than two weeks after the surgery, Williamson has the right lung and Myers-Santana has the left. Check out the rest of their story here.