Facebook: What you don’t know about it could get you in a whole lot of trouble

Judging someone who is mentally or physically ill by what they do on Facebook is beyond me. On your profile it doesn’t say how many drugs you are on. It doesn’t detail what your Doctors say. Most people would not put Doctors files or how many drugs they are on in their profile.

Looking at a picture of a person does not always tell us how sick they are.

That being said.

If you are smiling insurance companies can say you are not depressed. Well people taking drugs smile. Even if it is a pain medication. Pain medication can and does make people smile but it doesn’t mean if you see a person smiling that they are well. The same goes for anti Depressants. The whole point to taking them is to relieve your problems.  Some just so the person doesn’t commit suicide.

A picture on a profile of a person smiling or doing something simple does not mean they are well enough to work however. It is just a picture and pictures do not always tell the whole truth about a persons personal problems.

Most people do not put a picture of themselves looking horrid and decrepit on their profiles..  Well do you?

Everything you do on Facebook it saved in their computers forever, they are “data mining”.

A judge has ordered a woman to provide details of her movements on Facebook, to use in order to determine, if she can go back to work.

Well on Facebook if your on drugs and you make a mistake no problem but in a workplace if you are on drugs, it can in itself cause problems.

In some jobs if you were working and on drugs you could in fact make a mistake and kill someone.

If you work in  the medical field, a typo could mean the difference of a patient living or dieing.

Even Statin drugs  used to lower blood cholesterol levels can mess you up pretty good, like the pilot could forget how to fly the plane. Statin drugs can mess with your memory, among other things. Just a little fact to always consider.

Drugs affect everyone.

If you were working with machinery you could kill yourself.

Even if you spent an hour or so on line at Facebook does not mean you could work a 40 hour week in and workplace. There are many factors which could cause the person problems in a workplace that being at home you wold not experience. One cannot compare the two.

There are too many factors involved that would have to be taken into consideration.

Anyone at home in bed could use Facebook.

Anyone in a wheel chair could use Facebook.

People who are mentally ill can probably use Facebook.

Even Seniors can use Facebook.

That in no way means they can work a 40 hour week now does it…?

Well the Judge thinks it’s OK to use that as a factor in a court case.

Facebook what you do and say on it can and will be used against you in a court of law.

Turn over Facebook history, judge orders

A New Brunswick judge has ordered a Miramichi woman to reveal how often she uses the social-networking website Facebook to a man she’s suing after a 2004 car crash.

Rosemary Carter is fighting Herbert Connors for damages after the two were involved in a collision in the northern New Brunswick community five years ago.

In her lawsuit, Carter has said she hasn’t been able to return to work full-time as an administrative clerk at the Miramichi Hospital.

During the discovery process, when each side in the dispute asks for evidence, Conners’ lawyer asked Carter to turn over her internet records from Bell Aliant and specifically to disclose her Facebook activity.

She refused, saying turning over that information would violate her privacy.

Connors’ lawyer asked a judge to order her to turn them over, a request that was granted by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Fred Ferguson on Dec. 2.

He wrote in his decision there’s a low threshold for disclosing evidence and it met the “semblance of relevance” test required when deciding if information will be turned over during discovery.

“It does so, by possibly providing a window into what physical capacity the plaintiff has to keyboard, access the internet and communicate with family friends and associates on Facebook and thus what capacity she may have to work. In that sense: ‘It may lead to the discovery of admissible evidence,’ the threshold required for the evidence to be produced,” the judge’s decision said.

“Incidentally, it must not be forgotten that this legal action was commenced by the plaintiff and in launching it she has implicitly accepted certain intrusions into what otherwise might be private information, the disclosure of which would ordinarily be left to her own personal judgment.”

Ferguson’s decision also cited a British Columbia ruling in which a Facebook account was used to determine if a car accident victim was still able to play sports.

The judge also said he’ll make sure during the trial that Connors doesn’t use the information too intrusively.

Quebec woman lost insurance over Facebook photos

Carter’s case raises similarities to another high-profile Canadian example of how a person’s Facebook account has become the centre of a legal fight.

In November, Nathalie Blanchard, 29, said her disability pay for depression was cancelled because of her Facebook profile.

Blanchard took sick leave from her job at IBM last year, after she was diagnosed with major depression. In that time, she took various approaches to treat her mood disorder, including prescription medication and therapy.

Blanchard also tried to have fun, which was also recommended by her physician.

However, photographs of that fun — a beach holiday last year, a night out on the town with friends — are part of the evidence Manulife used to stop payments this fall.

Blanchard said the insurance company told her that she looked well enough to work based on her Facebook photos.

Manulife stopped paying her sick-leave benefits, and her mortgage company, Desjardins, ended her insurance payments

Source

Related to above article

Depressed woman fails 1st try to recoup benefits

Quebecer’s Facebook photo fight a cautionary tale

Depressed woman loses benefits over Facebook photos

DOCUMENT: N.B. Court of Queen’s Bench decision regarding disclosure of Facebook use

Now here we have a rather intensive interview with a Facebook employee a must to read. They go into some interesting details including the fact that employees can go into anyone account. They also could change anything in “YOUR” profile if they wanted to. Do go and read the rest it is all very interesting.  Facebook is data mining your every move.
Facebook tracks your every move. Of course if a family member was using your account or doing something for you, Facebook would not know that. Just because a profile has new updates, does not mean the persons who’s name is on the account actually did the updating.

Even Facebook employees can update you profile lest we forget.

Anonymous Facebook Employee: Everything You Do Is Tracked And Stored Forever

The other problem that happened not so long ago.

Compliments of AT &T Seem AT&T was logging their customers onto other peoples Facebook accounts. So strangers were in strangers accounts. They could update add photos whatever one would do in their own account.

Alarming glitch hits Facebook mobile accounts compliments of AT&T

Privacy commissioner looking at how Facebook gets data

January 18 2010

TORONTO — Canada’s privacy commissioner is launching a series of public consultations to investigate how personal data is being mined online through social networking sites.

The public has until March 15 to file written submissions to Jennifer Stoddart, who is examining the privacy risks associated with the tracking, profiling and targeting of consumers online.

The consultations are being done in the lead-up to a review by Parliament of the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act.

Stoddart, who was not available for comment Monday, said in a statement that she hopes to examine “issues that we feel pose a serious challenge to the privacy of consumers, now and in the near future” and to promote debate about “the impact of these technological developments on privacy.”

She cited Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and Foursquare as examples of websites that collect mounds of personal information from users, mostly voluntarily.

The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, which complained to Stoddart about some of Facebook’s policies in 2008, applauded the decision to proactively investigate possible privacy concerns linked to some of the web’s newer technologies.

“If people want to use these sites they should be able to do it but you want to be able to make sure they’re aware of (how it works) — it’s about matching up user expectations to what’s actually happening online,” said staff lawyer Tamir Israel.

He said there are advantages to websites having access to detailed information about users.

“It helps, for example, (for websites) to be able to monetize themselves through advertising revenues instead of charging customers — we think that’s good,” he said.

“But we think there really needs to be protections in place because you are basically using the visitors’ personal information and making money off it.”

Emerging social media trends include mobile access and location-based features. Foursquare encourages users to share details about where they go on a daily basis, including which shops and restaurants they frequent.

With many phones now using GPS locators, “it’s going to be very easy to know where everybody is at every moment and I think there’s going to be a lot of problems around that,” Israel said.

“Law enforcement can access this kind of information if it’s on someone’s server, often just by asking or with some type of warrant. So they’ll be able to know where everybody was at any given time.”

Public discussion panels are being organized in Toronto in April and Montreal in May.

A future consultation will also examine the privacy implications of “cloud computing,” which stores users’ data online rather than on personal computers. Examples include Google’s popular Gmail service and its suite of Google Docs applications — including a word processor and spreadsheet maker — which work entirely online.

Source

So now we move onto this little tid bit.

Facebook decides they want you name so they can make a deal with a company for money of course why else would they do it.

Facebook Snatches User’s Vanity URL And Sells It To Harman International

By Michael Arrington
January 23, 2010

This looks really, really bad. An avid Facebook user named Harman Bajwa says that his Facebook vanity Url – Facebook.com/Harman – was unceremoniously revoked yesterday for violating Facebook’s policies. His new Facebook URL is the much less memorable facebook.com/profile.php?id=538612932.

Facebook then apparently did a sales deal around the vanity URL with Harman International.

The notice from Facebook (also in image at bottom of post):

Please Read This!
Warning

The username you selected was removed for violating Facebook’s policies. A Facebook username should have a clear connection to one’s identity. In addition, impersonating anyone or anything is prohibited. If you see other people with usernames that do not accurately represent their real names, it is only because they have not yet been removed for misuse.

To select a new username, please visit the following link:

http://www.facebook.com/username

Thanks for your understanding,

The Facebook Team

There’s just one problem. “Harman” as a vanity URL is perfectly appropriate as a username for someone named Harman Bajwa. Facebook’s VP Global Sales Mike Murphy has /mike, for example, much to my personal annoyance.

And while we’re on the topic of Mike Murphy, he may actually be the guy behind all of this. It turns out that the reason Facebook wants to take back that /Harman vanity URL may be more about money and less (much less) about policy violations.

That’s because Harman also received an email yesterday from a representative of Harman International, which is apparently “working with Facebook” to take the /Harman username for a initiative they’re doing around the Grammy Awards. They’re offering “promotional items” to Harman to hand the name over willingly:

From: Tyler Bahl
To: Harman Bajwa
Sent: Fri, January 22, 2010 11:25:21 AM
Subject: Harman

Hi Harman,

Thanks for accepting my friend request on Facebook.

I’m the emerging media strategist at Carat in Boston and I work on the Harman International account. We’re launching our first initiative in partnership with the GRAMMYS on Monday. Harman International is looking to obtain the vanity url facebook.com/harman for their Facebook fan page.

We are currently working with Facebook to reclaim (http://www.facebook.com/help/?page=896#/help.php?page=899) the username, but I wanted to explore opportunities to work with you to acquire the name. In the past, we have offered product in exchange for social domain names. One case in mind was for the new movie Avatar , we were able to give promotional items to the owner of twitter.com/avtr for Coke Zero.

We’ve reached out to Facebook PR for comment, although the evidence, unless fake, sort of speaks for itself. This is actually one of those times that I’m hoping that we’re being duped somehow, because telling users they’ve done something wrong when really all you’re doing is pursuing a sales quota is really, really distasteful. We’ll update with any comment.

Harman, to his credit, isn’t all that angry. “It would be great if I get my User name back,” he said in an email to me, adding that he’s working on a startup that will launch next summer.

Rest assured, Harman, we’ll be covering it.

Click on Screen shot to enlarge

Source

Update: Facebook Gives Harman His Name Back, Apologizes

Only because they got Caught. LOL

Now other things that could happen. When one thinks of all those photos on Facebook one must think of this incident with a Spanish Lawmaker who had his photo snagged off line by the FBI and used it to update Bin Laden’s picture.  Well they also updated 17 other people who are most wanted. Question is did they use YOUR photo to do the updates.

Spanish lawmaker’s photo used for bin Laden poster

Question would something you put on Facebook be used to say you are anti semitic. This new law Harper Gov is considering is totally unnecessary, as Canada already has laws to cover this. Anything anyone says against Israel is considered anti Semitic however no matter how innocent it is.  Even the media gets bombarded by stupid e-mails over nothing. They just want to shut people up. They even try to shut up those on blogs, you tube, Human rights organizations etc etc etc.  This new law would only take away Canadians Freedom of Speech.

Freedom of speech has been removed in this context in many countries. Do you want to give them even more power, I think not.

News agency’s have been affected in any that have a comment section the comment section is most times not, been put into a story about Israel. Loss of a freedom right there. So if there is something that you find inaccurate about what is said in the News story you cannot comment and say your bit. This in a lot of the media I and others have noticed. Do we want them using things like Facebook to track what you say. The answer would be no. If this law was passed they most certainly would use it against you. Many times people just say things out of anger that doesn’t mean you hate all Jewish people however.

Do you want it forbidden to talk about Israel if it does something that may be a war crime or a crime against humanity. Absolutely NO NO NO.

Israel: Attempting to take away Canadians Freedom of Speech

This child had her photo taken from a news agency I assume and it was used for all the wrong things. Could be they snagged her photo from Facebook even.  So if a person posted this story on Facebook could they be charged with being anti Semitic under the new Canadian Law if it ever gets passed. Probably.

In may countries if you deny that Holocaust happened they way they say it did, You go to jail. Getting the drift. So they are forcing us to believe something we may not even believe.  “They even invade our freedom of thought”.

US/Israeli Charity uses little Palestinian Childs photo to raise money for Israel’s Hungry

One thing leads to another. Always think way ahead.

When they take away the freedom from one person or a group of people they are also taking that very freedom away form YOU…….

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Published in: on January 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm  Comments Off on Facebook: What you don’t know about it could get you in a whole lot of trouble  
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Come the iron wall-Gaza Tunnels only used for Necessities

Saleh Al-Naami finds that everyday commodities are what form the contraband passing through secret tunnels between Egypt and Gaza

Cairo AL-AHRAM News

Maged Ibrahim hurried to his sister’s house metres away from his own to fetch empty plastic containers. This university professor was out of time. As soon as his nephew, Adham, gave him three containers, Ibrahim sped away in his car to the nearest fuelling station to fill up on gasoline, in order to ensure a minimal supply for his car in case of emergencies. He also uses gasoline for the electricity generator at his home when there are power outages, which can sometimes last up to five hours, since Israel refuses to allow the regular refuelling of the sole power station in the area.

Ibrahim, like many others in Gaza, is desperate to stock up on food and fuel supplies that are smuggled through tunnels after hearing rumours that Egypt intends to build an iron wall on top of these tunnels to collapse them. The tunnels have become a vital source of livelihood and provisions for the people here. The university professor was lucky and filled up on fuel, but the majority return empty handed as gasoline stations run dry.

Salem Al-Othman, a resident of Al-Nosayrat Refugee Camp in the centre of Gaza, owns a grocery shop and is preoccupied with stockpiling merchandise in anticipation of an end to smuggling. Al-Othman went to one of the wholesale merchants in neighbouring Deir Al-Balah to reserve his goods but was surprised that the wholesaler claimed to be out of stock on everything Al-Othman wanted.

At the same time, and unlike most Thursdays, the traditional markets in Gaza, Rafah and other large Palestinian cities that trade in Egyptian goods were very active. Shoppers bought everything in sight, and the uncertainty of what will happen next caused prices to skyrocket, despite warnings against overpricing by Ismail Haniyeh’s government. Meanwhile, Egypt’s iron wall was the talk of the town.

Aisha Maghli, 81, who lives in Al-Satr Al-Sharqi district in Khan Younis, south of Gaza, has been in low spirits of late. Maghli is an asthmatic that in recent years has had fewer episodes because of medication that is smuggled from Egypt through the tunnels. “Shutting down the tunnels and the siege spell doom for my grandmother,” her grandson Hassan told Al-Ahram Weekly. “None of us care about the tunnels, except that they allow us to breathe under siege.” He despondently pleaded, “Please don’t let my grandmother die just because there is no medicine.”

The rumoured wall has been a topic of much debate among young Palestinians also. At many of their gatherings in Gaza, they deliberate on how to render the wall ineffective. News of the wall comes at a time when Palestinians realise the importance of the tunnels in freeing them from the debilitating effects of Israeli-led siege. For example, the tunnels are a major factor in controlling prices since the siege began, and are a source of employment for thousands of people in what is known as the tunnel trade business.

For Salman, 38, tunnel smuggling was a turning point in his life. He began as the owner of a small electrical goods shop and has evolved into a trader of many commodities. Today, he deals in electrical equipment, construction material, livestock, and other goods that are in short supply under siege. Near his house in central Gaza, Salman erected a large paddock for hundreds of cattle that are smuggled through the tunnels. He sells them to smaller merchants and employs between 10 and 20 men to tend to them. “Sometimes the staff work around the clock to meet the demands of the customers,” Salman told the Weekly.

Salman partners with Egyptian merchants who bring goods to the Egyptian side of the tunnels. From there, Salman and his men bring the merchandise through the tunnels after paying a fee to the owners of the tunnel. Tunnel traders prefer not to disclose the value or volume of goods that they bring in from Egypt in order for them to make a reasonable profit.

Although the majority believe these traders make a steep profit, in reality this is not true. Tunnel traders pay their Egyptian counterparts for the goods and then the tunnel owners, as well as the wages of a large number of workers, which necessitates that they considerably raise the price of commodities in order to make a profit. Like other merchants, Salman hopes the siege will end and the tunnels shut down because his is a risky business.

Khamis Al-Daqqa, who sells vegetables, explained how the tunnels have helped keep prices low. Al-Daqqa cited that if large amounts of onions were not pouring through the tunnels, the price of one kilogramme would be around five shekels, or LE6, instead of the current price of two shekels. “The large volume of fruit and vegetables has revived trade and improved the public’s purchasing power,” he told the Weekly.

Before rumours about the iron wall began to circulate, merchants had begun a new practice to drive prices even lower: digging their own tunnels to cut the fee they pay to tunnel owners. One such trader, who previously paid 40 per cent of the value cost to tunnel owners, dug his own tunnel that specialises in the passage of electrical goods and garments. Israel is propagating an untrue and deceitful notion that these tunnels are being used to smuggle weapons and combat supplies. In reality, the tunnels that Israel and its allies are so concerned about are being used to meet everyday basic needs.

One tunnel owner, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Weekly that all the tunnels he is familiar with are used to smuggle basic civilian goods and merchandise. His tunnel is dedicated to medication and some foodstuffs that are secured by his partners on the other side of the border. He receives the goods at his end of the tunnel and distributes them based on orders placed by medicine dispensaries. He and his partners receive a set fee from the dispensaries for each delivery.

Deputy parliament speaker Ahmed Bahr is certain that the Egyptian leadership will not allow the people of Gaza to starve. “President [Hosni] Mubarak promised not to allow Palestinians to go hungry,” Bahr told the Weekly. “I am positive he will keep his word and will stand by our people.” He added that Egypt’s national security is “just as important to us as Palestinian national security. Hence, Gaza has not been — and will never be — a source of threat to Egypt’s security.”

Bahr concluded: “The threat comes from Israel.”

Source

What
Israel has been saying is that Egyptians are sending weapons into Gaza which is not true. We all knew that of course.

It is Egyptians who bring the supplies to the tunnels to send into Gaza.

The so called Iron wall is as  illegal as is the wall  that Israel has built. The International Court has already ruled it illegal.

The US is helping to build this new iron wall.

Egypt gets about 2 billion for weapons so I am guessing there is a connection between the aid for weapons Israels whining and the US.

The International community must get the seige lifted on Gaza.

If Israel refuses they should be sanctioned the same as any other state that does this type of horror to people.

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Published in: on January 10, 2010 at 5:55 am  Comments Off on Come the iron wall-Gaza Tunnels only used for Necessities  
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The connection between mental illness and homelessness

Living on the margins:

The connection between mental illness and homelessness

goh iromoto graphic/the ubyssey

by Erin Hale

Friday, November 21st, 2008

Montréal (CUP)­­ — “Now, they don’t put people in a hospital, which is a good thing, but sometimes it’s so intense. Now there’s a [schizophrenic man] by himself on the street with nowhere to sleep, eat, taking drugs more than they used to, doing prostitution—but I don’t think he even realizes he’s doing it,” Kim Heynemand said of a homeless man she met on the job.

Heynemand works as a peer helper with the Centre local de services communautaires (CLSC) des Faubourgs Équipe Itinérance (homeless division).

While she might see some of the more extreme cases, the fact remains that many of the 30,000 homeless in Montréal—and thousands more in Québec—suffer from mental health disorders.

In a study of 230 homeless individuals surveyed in Ottawa and Gatineau by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, two-thirds of adult males, three-quarters of adult females, 56 per cent of male youths, and two-thirds of female youth self-reported mental health problems.

The percentages of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts were also higher than in the general population.

But the way the system is set up right now, shelters and community organizations are fighting a losing battle to help some of Montréal’s most vulnerable citizens.

There are only 2865 emergency beds and 1592 transitional beds in Montréal shelters, according to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards. At 3094 beds, that serves only a tenth of the city’s homeless population.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that a lack of programs and resources doesn’t just affect individuals with pre-existing mental health disorders. Living on the streets creates its own stress, and if someone is there long enough, it can lead to serious problems.

Alain Spitzer, director of the St. James Centre in Montréal, notes that while many Montréalers find themselves homeless at some point, he estimates that someone has about three months to get off the street before it starts to really affect them.

Resources are limited for those living on the street. There are shelters and community centres, but many, like the St. James Drop-In Centre, have restricted membership due to budget and resource constraints. While many homeless people do have access to clinics, the drop-in system creates barriers to those people requiring consistent, recurring care.

Dispensing medication might seem like a quick fix: the person takes the drug, feels better, and suddenly has the mental capacity to look for a job and apartment. But while medication does solve some important immediate problems, any good psychiatrist will tell you that even for non-homeless individuals, medication is not enough to treat a psychiatric condition.

CLSC primarily dispenses lithium to patients, Heynemand says, because it only needs to be injected once a week. Lithium, though, is a difficult drug to take—it is linked to acne, weight gain, and a feeling of mind-numbing. It’s not surprising that some of CLSC’s patients choose not to take it.

Other clinics sometimes hand out hard narcotics in original packaging, which some patients choose to sell, Spitzer says.

Heynemand, however, says that even medication can take a backseat to more immediate daily needs.

“It’s hard to make them realize they need to take their medication…but at the same time, taking medication can be hard,” she said. “For a guy doing prostitution, taking drugs for five days in a row with a mental disorder, what’s important is finding him a place to stay.”

Fielding the desire to self-medicate is also a difficult task for people like Heynemand, who work on the street level.

“Sometimes they don’t realize their meds work—they stop taking them and do [illegal] drugs as self-medication. If you hear voices and alcohol makes it stop, then you drink more,” she said.

The individuals interviewed for this story had various coping mechanisms, such as dogs, boyfriends, pot, cigarettes or alcohol.

One man, Martin, a self-labelled alcoholic, spends his days sitting on Sherbrooke Street, panhandling and slowly sipping beer, because “it helps with the pain in [his] muscles.”

Each demographic of homeless people faces their own challenges of how to deal with mental health disorders. Homeless youth—who often use illegal drugs for self-medication—are at a particular risk of resorting to prostitution to get money.

“Working in sex, for a lot of people who take drugs, it’s a big part of it. After some point, if you don’t find money, you’ve got to think of it,” Heynemand said. “Some do it only sometimes, some as a job. For a lot of people who have borderline [personality disorder] it’s a way to find love. Some people just don’t care.”

But once youth hit their mid-20s, many assistance programs end. And if they’re male, even fewer options become available—something Spitzer attributes to society’s notion of “women and children first” and the expectation that men can fend for themselves.

Spitzer also links it to the fact that problems like chronic depression have only recently been diagnosed en masse, so there’s a whole generation of 40 to 55 year olds who did not receive treatment at key points in their 20s when many mental illnesses develop.

Matthew Pearce, director general of the Old Brewery Mission (the largest men’s shelter in Québec) blames the provincial government for the resource strain felt by Montréal shelters and community programs.

“It’s important for [people] to understand that the provincial government funds less than 20 per cent. It’s the public that supports us. The provincial government does not meet its social or moral obligations,” Pearce said. “Shelters in Toronto are 100 per cent provincially funded. We receive $12 per bed, per night, and in Toronto they receive $61 per bed, per night.”

This problem also stems from the process of de-institutionalization that occurred during the 60s and 70s. While many view this as a human rights achievement, others say the government has not held up its end of the bargain.

When many mental health institutions were either closed or reduced in size, government funds were supposed to be channelled to community-based or outpatient health programs and other alternative services like subsidized housing or shelters, says Paul Whitehead, a professor in the department of sociology at the University of Western Ontario.

While Whitehead found that money had, in fact, been moved toward the community programs, he admits the absence of a live-in arrangement for patients resulted in more mentally ill homeless individuals.

Should an individual be lucky enough to find adequate mental health treatment and somehow get a leg up—because starting at $560 a month, welfare will hardly cover rent—statistics remain equally dismal.

There is a 10,000 person waiting list for 24,700 slots of public housing on the island. The city also seems set on razing neighbourhoods with more affordable housing to install condos and luxury housing.

The homeless, particularly the mentally ill, are locked into a vicious cycle of limited treatment and self-medication, with access to equally limited, though well-intentioned, community services trying to compensate for a lack of government responsibility.

Source

Poverty in Canada is Very Real and Rising

Published in: on November 22, 2008 at 12:11 am  Comments Off on The connection between mental illness and homelessness  
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As Budgets Tighten, More People Decide Medical Care Can Wait

By Ceci Connolly and Kendra Marr

October 16, 2008

To monitor the multiple sclerosis attacking Ann Pietrangelo’s central nervous system, her doctor recommends an annual MRI. Last year, the 49-year-old Winchester, Va., woman had to pay a $3,000 co-payment to get the imaging done.

This year, she’s skipping the test. Even with insurance, it’s more than her budget can tolerate, especially with the roller coaster on Wall Street devouring her retirement savings.

“I’m doing everything I can to avoid going to the doctor,” she said.

From Park Avenue dental offices to the Arlington Free Clinic, the global economic crunch is forcing a growing number of Americans to scale back on medical care. Consumers are attempting their own form of triage, pushing off seemingly less-urgent services in the hope that their financial health will improve. But the danger, say physicians, is that the short-term savings may translate into more severe long-term health implications.

At the extreme are cases such as the Texas woman who went to the hospital complaining of back pain. Physician Doug Curran immediately spotted cancer on the X-ray.

“She’d had a lump in her breast for a while, but things were tight and she said she couldn’t get it looked at,” he recalled. “We’re going to see more of that.”

Nationwide, the number of consumers who went without a prescription, tapped into retirement savings to pay for health care or skipped a doctor visit for themselves or a child has risen since last year, according to a survey released this summer by the Rockefeller Foundation and Time magazine. One-quarter of the 2,000 respondents, for example, said they had decided not to see a doctor because of cost in 2008, up from 18 percent the year before. Ten percent said they did not take a child to the doctor for the same reason.

“When the economy is in the situation we have today, people make tough choices,” said Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, who is head of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

“Things are just not going to get done.”pharmacists see a spike in cheaper gen

After nearly a decade of steady — often double-digit — increases in drug spending, the research company IMS Health this summer recorded the first actual decline. And a survey by the Center for Studying Health System Change found that nearly 20 percent of Americans report having difficulty paying medical bills.

Layoffs, shrinking bank accounts, rising medical prices and widespread anxiety that the economy is likely to worsen are prompting people to split pills, forgo screening tests such as colonoscopies, delay elective procedures such as laser eye surgery and turn to home remedies as cheaper alternatives. Hospitals report that unpaid medical bills are on the rise, pharmacists see a spike in cheaper generics, and demand for low-cost care is climbing.

Falls Church music teacher Lisa Emrich is coping with a dwindling number of piano students by cutting back on physician visits.

“I have too many doctors and specialists who all wish to see me twice a year,” said Emrich, who is being treated for multiple sclerosis and arthritis. “Sometimes I might skip one if I’m doing well in that area. . . . When I see my neurologist, I’ll ask about my arthritis, which doesn’t make much sense. But I try to get as much as possible out of my doctor visits.”

For Sandra Harrington, a waitress from Oxon Hill, the trade-off comes in treatment for an infected eye. Her doctor prescribed administering steroid drops twice a day. But as her tips have shrunk, she has decided that applying the $100 medication once a day is all she can afford.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” she said, explaining that because it is too painful for her eye to be exposed to direct sunlight, she works only night shifts. “People cut back. Then people like me suffer.”

In the past month, traffic on the five-year-old advice site JustAnswer.com rose 14 percent. The site, which allows customers to pose a health question and “bid” $9 to $30 for a doctor’s or a nurse’s response, had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days, said chief executive and founder Andy Kurtzig. In a telling sign, inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.

At the Arlington Free Clinic, the surge in people seeking care has been overwhelming, said Executive Director Nancy Sanger Pallesen. Last week, the clinic provided free preventive screenings to 19 new patients, but it turned away 27 others, she said.

“Those numbers are higher than what we were seeing just this summer,” she said. “Unfortunately, we can’t take them all in.”

Even free care may not be a good deal for people with limited means. For some, the price of transportation is prohibitive; others fear discovering an illness they do not have the money to treat.

Many are forced to juggle competing medical needs. Pietrangelo must balance the importance of the MRI, which detects brain lesions, and the costly medications that prevent her from relapsing. She pays co-payments of $500 per drug per month. There are no generic alternatives.

“I can’t shop around,” she said. “My hands are tied.”

Most analysts expect the medical crunch to worsen.

“We know from past experience that an economic downturn drives more people to be uninsured,” said Len Nichols, director of health policy at the nonprofit, nonpartisan New America Foundation, a think tank. “They lose their jobs, they lose their income and their insurance.”

That is what happened to Tim Doss. On Sept. 18, after driving a cement truck for an Indiana company for 10 years, he was laid off.

“They told me, ‘As of midnight, your insurance is lapsed,’ ” he said. Doss, 50, and his wife have illnesses that require medications, regular doctor visits and tests. Creditors have come to their home trying to collect the $3,000 they owe in hospital co-payments from when they did have insurance.

The couple decided that Doss’s annual checkup took precedence because he needed it to keep his commercial driver’s license. The checkup, plus blood work for a fatty liver and high cholesterol, cost $300. He persuaded his doctor to provide free samples of his liver medicine.

Helen Doss does not plan to get an annual mammogram this year, even though her mother died of breast cancer at age 56. Doss was offered a free stress test at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, but she is afraid it will turn up more problems that she can’t take care of.

“I’m just holding off for a year and hoping nothing happens,” she said.

Their primary-care physician, Steven Wilk, is devoting more time to helping patients decide what to postpone.

“Folks are asking us to try to limit what we order or pare it down to the bare-bones minimum,” he said. “As a doctor, I worry about the risk of missing something at an early stage. It could lead to more serious problems down the road.”

In past recessions, health-care spending briefly spiked — as people raced to doctors before their insurance ran out — and then fell sharply, according to industry analysts.

“Many times in health care there’s a lag of three to six months before it hits really hard,” said Donald Fisher, president of the American Medical Group Association, which represents large, multi-specialty providers. “If they have a problem, they get it fixed while they still have health insurance. Then we see a decline in elective procedures, and then we really see a drop-off.”

In Plano, Tex., life feels like an endless downward spiral, Victoria Freudiger said, for herself and her husband. Losing jobs meant eliminating health insurance. No insurance meant Thomas Freudiger went to the hospital when he developed pneumonia this summer. That resulted in a $363 bill they couldn’t pay. Now their credit is shot.

As the economy crumbled, both started canceling preventive screenings. She hasn’t had a pap smear or a mammogram for close to two years; he is overdue for a colonoscopy. They use do-it-yourself dental cement to patch their teeth and put their best face forward in job interviews. And although her doctor prescribed Neurontin for her seizures, Victoria Freudiger tries calming techniques instead of the pills.

“Instead of taking them every day, I wait until I start feeling sick, and then I take them again,” she said. “Both of us are suffering mentally, emotionally and physically.”

Though the burden is especially heavy for uninsured Americans, even those who have coverage are feeling the pinch as employers shift higher deductibles and co-payments onto employees.

“The reason why health care was immune [to recessions] in the past was because most people were covered under good insurance plans,” said Jean Mitchell, a professor of public policy at Georgetown University. Now, “people are realizing, ‘Oh my gosh, I have to pay for this out of pocket.’ “

In Durango, Colo., Marsha Porter-Norton and her husband, both entrepreneurs in their mid-40s, switched to a high-deductible plan when insurance premiums skyrocketed. Their new catastrophic policy costs $479 a month, but they have to pay the first $6,000 in expenses.

She is supposed to get ultrasounds twice a year to check on the fibroid tumors in her uterus. But the couple’s retirement portfolio “has taken a massive hit,” and they worry about their jobs, Porter-Norton said. So, for now, she’s going to wait on the $500 ultrasound.

“I’m going to take a gamble,” she said.

Source

Would you believe Insurance companies are corrupt, money grubbing, profiteers.

They care nothing for people, just the profits. Profiteers for sure.

The price paid for Drugs is also way too high. Of course drug companies are profiteers as well.  I am still trying to fathom the $100 for eye drops. What a rip off. TALK about over priced.

No wonder people are losing their homes, going bankrupt and dieing for lack of health care…..

Published in: on October 17, 2008 at 2:35 am  Comments Off on As Budgets Tighten, More People Decide Medical Care Can Wait  
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