Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Social Teaching Must be Lived

The Catholic Post from the Diocese of Peoria ran an article on October 28, 2007-- Church’s Social Teaching Must be Lived.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria had their first Institute for Catholic Social Ministry last weekend. Father Larry Snyder, executive director of Catholic Charities USA was the keynote speaker for the two-day event.

“Father Snyder set the tone Saturday by outlining several themes of Catholic social teaching, beginning with the fundamental principle that every human person has inherent, God-given dignity.

“If we could just get this one right, all the others would follow,” said Father Snyder. “We have to recognize that within every person we come into contact with is the image and likeness of God,” he added, no matter how scruffy or smelly that person is, rich or poor, young or old, sick or healthy.

The problem according to Father Snyder is that “Catholics remain unfamiliar with or unmoved by these teachings.”

Another speaker at the Institute said that the Gospel’s social demands are “very hard teachings we would like to gloss over.” Father Snyder added, “…if you take this seriously, you’re ruined for life.”

Bishop Daniel Jenky is the publisher of the Catholic Post.

Monday, October 22, 2007


The Peoria Journal Star had an article this morning about silence from the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

Too bad it is true.

Diocese's silence doesn't benefit the flock

Michael Miller
Saturday, October 20, 2007

The silence coming from 607 NE Madison Ave., Peoria, is nearly as deafening as the bells that ring on Sundays next door at St. Mary's Cathedral.
Catholic Diocese of Peoria press releases are almost nonexistent these days. That wouldn't be a big deal if things weren't going on, but they are. We used to cover some diocesan events when we knew about them. At the least, we could let you know about them.

Lately, nobody's telling us about them.

Last week, I asked diocesan director of communications Elizabeth Smarjesse why the diocese doesn't send out press releases much anymore. There was no response.

This is just one example of an occasional but confounding lack of communications by the diocese.

In the past two years, for instance, the diocese also has only intermittently agreed to allow Journal Star reporters to interview its personnel, even for innocuous features. Contact with Bishop Daniel Jenky himself has been nearly impossible. Why? Possibly because of what the diocese called in one statement "negative" and "unfair" coverage, though it didn't go into any specifics.

I called a few others in the news media who cover the diocese to see if they had noticed the institution's subterranean profile. Generally they said they weren't having that many problems. Jim Garrott, news director at WEEK-TV, said a decrease in press releases appeared to be cyclical. Jonathan Ahl, news director at WCBU-FM, said diocesan communications were "so-so," but also said officials were "responsive."

Reporter Leon Lagerstam at the Dispatch/Argus in the Quad Cities has had much the same experiences I've had, though.

"If it weren't for (vicar general) Monsignor (Paul) Showalter, I'd have no luck at all when it comes to communicating with the diocese," Lagerstam said. "He's been my sole reprieve when needing something."

It's not just the media getting the cold shoulder from the diocese, though. Some victims of clergy sexual abuse, especially those representing the Survivors Network

of Those Abused by Priests, haven't been able to get a response from Jenky to their entreaties.

A rare communication by the diocese last spring and a recent sermon by Jenky, though, may offer an insight into the institution's attitude.

After the diocese denied me an interview with Jenky for a story on his first five years as bishop here, a statement was issued that said, "The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria will continue to reserve the right to communicate with his own flock and with neighbors of good will in a manner that he deems appropriate."

Jenky recently continued the theme of communicating with "his own flock" in a sermon at an Erin Feis Mass in late August.

"Now, our local press has sometimes complained about the pronouncements of the One, Holy, Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church, and they even sometimes comment on the preaching at Mass of your Bishop, even though my words are really only directed to you, the members of my own flock, entrusted to my care, through the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See," he said according to the text of the sermon in the Sept. 2 issue of The Catholic Post.

Jenky's words may be "only directed" to Catholics, but they are sometimes heard by others through the Post or when we are able to cover a diocesan event. What Dan Jenky says is news. After all, he is leader of the largest religious group in central Illinois. What that institution and its leadership does has an influence on this area.

In the media, we try to cover that influence and sometimes ask challenging questions and write about unpleasant things. It may seem unfair that we do so, but I don't know of any religious group that's completely happy with how it's covered in the news media. With a group as large as the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, there's going to be some negative, but we also have covered much that is positive.

Trying to keep a below-the-horizon profile is, I realize, one way to respond to negative press, but the community is the poorer for it when the media aren't notified of diocesan events, when diocesan experts are barred by leadership from speaking to the press and when the leadership itself goes silent.

MICHAEL MILLER covers religion for the Journal Star. Write to him in care of the Journal Star, 1 News Plaza, Peoria, IL 61643, call him at 686-3106, or send e-mail to Comments may be published.

John A. Carroll, MD – Peoria October 20, 2007 - 11:48
Subject: Silence
Our Catholic leaders are very sensitive to any criticism right now. Silence is golden and very frustrating if you are a reporter and want the thoughts of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria.

Mike Miller reports, “What Dan Jenky says is news. After all, he is leader of the largest religious group in central Illinois. What that institution and its leadership does has an influence on this area.”

This is very true and Haitian Hearts experienced this several years ago as Bishop Jenky turned his back on Haitian children.

When Haitian Hearts requested a Catholic Tribunal Court against OSF for denying Haitian children medical care, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria threatened me, asked me if I realized that OSF was a 1.6 billion dollar “industry”, and Bishop Jenky told me that he would not judge against OSF.

Haitian children are now suffering and dying as they are denied care at OSF.

My brother has written four eloquent letters to Bishop Jenky in the last five years asking for his intervention on important local Catholic issues. Bishop Jenky hasn’t responded to any letter.

I believe that Bishop Jenky is doing all he can to protect the Diocese and OSF and does not want to suffer the wrath of the Peoria business community, which includes OSF, and lose financial contributions to the Diocese.

A prominent local Catholic monsignor confided to Haitian Hearts that the Diocese would “stick together”. Obedience to the Bishop is of utmost importance.

Bishop Jenky has no good honest answers to questions that could be asked by the media about important local issues. Therefore, silence is his “answer”. And that puts the Catholic Diocese and the laity in an even worse position.

Norma Villarreal October 20, 2007 - 08:36
Subject: lack of communication
Thank you for quoting the statement that "the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria reserves the right to communicate with his flock and neighbors of good will as he deems appropriate." It seems that you, as a reporter, may not fall into either category. Maintaining silence and the lack of communication from the diocese raises suspicions and questions. I would like for the bishop to provide straightforward and clear communication to the public whether "we belong to his flock or not."

Monday, October 15, 2007

Mauricio Survives!

Mauricio was operated in the United States and survived a complex heart surgery.

He is with his fantastic host family and doing very well. He is crawling everywhere.

Saving Mauricio will not save Haiti. But we all know that all of Haiti's babies deserve medical care whether it is basic or complex.

If Mauricio can be helped with a serious congenital heart defect, we should be able to help thousands of Haitian babies that are dying from medical problems that are preventable and much less "complex" to treat.

The collective will has to be there to do as much good as can be done.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Peoria and Houston's EMS is Not the Same

On October 11, 2007 the USA Today had an article: Fast Help for a Failing Heart.

Congestive heart failure (CHF) kills 53,800 people in the U.S. each year and costs the nation 28 billion dollars in health care expenses.

Because the heart has been weakend by disease in patients with CHF, blood does not flow through the lungs with normal force. This blood can seep out into the tiny sacs of the lung and people with CHF feel like they are suffocating.

For more than 30 years paramedics have been inserting a breathing tube (intubation) into the patient’s lungs suffering from acute CHF. As USA Today explains, it is the “street version” of a hospital’s mechanical ventilator. The tube has saved many lives over the years.

A breathing device called CPAP has been used for 15 years within hospitals for patients with CHF. The CPAP device often prevents the need for a breathing tube because oxygen can be given through the CPAP breathing mask to push the fluid out of the lungs and back into the bloodstream where it belongs. The relief for the patient is almost immediate.

CPAP machines, about the size of a football, are now being used by EMS teams in Boston, Austin, Columbus, Houston, Miami, New Orleans, Raleigh, and San Anotonio. Other cities that are planning to have the device in EMS units within the next 12 months include: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Lousiville, Memphis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, Portland, Richmond, San Diego, San Francisco, and Tucson.

Dr. David Persse is Houston’s EMS medical director and he is also head of Houston’s Public Health Authority. I have spoken to him about the conflict of interest that plagues Peoria’s EMS.

In Houston, the Houston Fire Department provides advanced cardiac life support with paramedic firefighters. In Peoria, the Peoria Fire Department is basic life support and cannot transport patients. Also, the PFD firefighters that are paramedics cannot act as paramedics unless asked to do so by Advanced Medical Transport (AMT) at the scene of a medical emergency. Dr. Persse understood how Peoria works.

Dr. Persse explained to USA Today that, “…the paramedics can do the more dramatic thing and intubate the patient, but that is not necessarily the best thing to do. It’s the wise paramedic who knows we need an alternative to intubating the patients.” It is also wise and prudent doctors who direct EMS systems who make patients the number one priority in a community.

Some states are going further with CPAP, allowing emergency technicians with only basic training, like the PFD, to use the CPAP device.

Wisconsin started allowing EMTs to use the device in 2003 and now makes it part of their basic training, according to a report in the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

An alternative out-of-hospital airway is needed in Peoria. It needs to be performed by the PFD for patients who call 911 and cannot breathe due to acute CHF. Patients who arrive at the hospital with breathing tubes typically end up in the intensive care unit, where the first day of ventilator care alone costs $8,000 dollars.

Medical studies have shown that CPAP reduces mortality and the need for intubation in patients with CHF.

In Houston, Memorial Hermann’s medical center has donated to the Houston Fire Department enough CPAP machines and breathing devices to treat 900 patients as part of a growing partnership that aims to provide higher quality care while streamlining emergency medical services.

Where is Peoria?

Why doesn’t OSF-SFMC do the same in Peoria? It would be great if OSF-SFMC, the medical resource hospital for EMS, would donate CPAP devices to the PFD. This would save lives while saving the taxpayer money. However, AMT is an affiliate of OSF, so will OSF and their medical directors agree to take business from AMT?

As usual, what will come first in Peoria…profit or the person struggling to breathe?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Peoria is Being Tricked

The Journal Star had a short article in the local section yesterday (October 7, 2007):

Stabbing Victim Who Went to Fire Department Stable

Peoria—Police continued their search for a suspect who stabbed a man Friday night in the 500 block of Northeast Monroe Street.

Citing an ongoing investigation, detectives declined to identify the victim—-a man in his mid-40’s—-but said he was in stable condition Saturday.

Police learned of the attack after the man, stabbed multiple times in the chest, arrived about 7:10 pm. Friday at the Fire Department’s headquarters, 505 NE Monroe Ave., just as a truck was returning from an emergency call. Still conscious and talking, the victim was taken by ambulance to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

My comments:

After reading this article, the typical reader would believe that the man was transported to OSF by a Peoria Fire Department (PFD) ambulance. I would have believed this just a few years ago.

What is not reported here is that the PFD does not have an ambulance and is not allowed to transport patients in their trucks. Rapid transport is critical to saving lives for trauma victims.

(A few years ago, the PFD did purchase an ambulance, but were not allowed to equip it adequately and were not allowed to transport patients. So they sold it even though I offered to buy it from them and donate it back to the PFD for their use. Money and politics in Peoria did not allow this to happen.)

Also, even though the PFD has paramedics and intermediate medics on their staff who are also firefighters, these individuals are not allowed to use their advanced skills unless asked to do so by Advanced Medical Transport (AMT).

Most likely the man that was stabbed multiple times in the chest thought that the PFD could do more for him than just call 911 for AMT to treat and transport him to OSF.

The Chicago Marathon during this past weekend put the Chicago EMS and Chicago-land emergency department patients in jeopardy for multiple reasons. Just think what would happen in Peoria during a mass casualty when the PFD is kept at such basic status. The PFD cannot routinely give advanced life support or transport patients. They do not even own an ambulance.

Unfortunately, Peoria’s general public is being dangerously tricked by the powers that be.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Dogs, Haitians, and Heart Valves

In 1960 in the United States, prosthetic heart valves were being placed in dogs in the mitral position. The dogs woke from surgery, recovered, and barked and ran around. They felt much better with their new heart valve.

The first prosthetic valve was placed in a human being the same year by Dr. Albert Starr.

Heart valve replacement is commonplace in the resource-rich world in 2007.

However, Haitians and most of the people in the resource-poor world, don't get new heart valves when their native valves fail. Technology that has been available in the United States for almost 50 years is still not available in Haiti.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

What of Haitian Children?

The Peoria Journal Star published this forum article several days ago. It will not remain on their site for long, so it is copied below.

What of Haitian Children?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Re. Sept. 21 story, "Surgery center very kid friendly":

Contrary to what the article states, not every child is welcome at OSF-Children's Hospital of Illinois (CHOI).

Haitian Hearts' children who have been operated on at OSF-CHOI in the past, and who presently need additional cardiac surgery, are being refused further care at OSF-CHOI. The Journal Star does not report that these Haitian children are suffering and dying.

OSF-CHOI's International Committee is ignoring Haitian Hearts' children. This is medical negligence and reveals a blatant disregard for Haitian children's lives. This policy by CHOI is anything but "friendly."

Where are the OSF sisters and their mission philosophy, which turns no child away?

John A. Carroll, M.D.


Currently in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Thirst for Profit

Heureuse is the young Haitian lady who was operated at OSF several years ago. She needs further surgery and is being refused care at OSF.

One of her two children, Kenley, is pictured to the right. Kenley is two years old and his father has abandoned the family. Heureuse lives with Kenley and his older sister in a slum in Port-au-Prince.

The Catholic Post in Peoria recently published an article--"Pope Contrasts Thirst for Profit, Logic of Sharing".

Pope Benedict spoke about the demands of economic justice during a Sunday blessing September 23.

Benedict said:

"The hunger and ecological emergencies point to growing evidence that the logic of profit, if dominant, increases the disproportion between the rich and the poor and brings a ruinous expoitation of the planet."

"...when the logic of sharing and solidarity prevail, it is possible to correct the route and orient it toward an equitable and sustainable development", he said.

The article also stated that "the Pope emphasized that economic justice was a matter of balance. Making a profit is not in contradiction with justice, he said, but the church teaches that a fair distribution of good takes priority".

When Heureuse dies in the slum for lack of heart surgery, who will take care of Kenley and his sister? Will three people actually die due to "thirst for profit" in Peoria?

I wonder what Pope Benedict's advice to OSF regarding operating Heureuse would be?