LBKDC Interview with David Verinder, Sarasota Memorial Health Care System CEO

David Verinder & Michael Boorstein Discussion of Current, Future Impacts of Covid-19: Summary

Board members of the Longboat Key Democratic Club were pleased to have worked with Sarasota Memorial Health System so that our members and the community at large could gain a better understanding of the impacts of Covid-19 on Sarasota and Longboat Key.

In addition to the discussions with Dr. Manuel Gordillo, Medical Director of Infection Prevention and control at Sarasota Memorial, and Dr. Kirk Voelker, Medical Director of Clinical Research and the Covid-19 clinical trials, our Board member Michael Boorstein had a very interesting and productive discussion with David Verinder, President and CEO of the health system.  Here is a summary of Mr. Verinder’s responses to Michael’s questions.

 

  • Mr. Verinder emphasized the challenges that the patients, his staff and the community have faced in coping with this crisis.  Physicians and staff at the hospital have worked around the clock to provide the best care possible.  The hospital has received enormous generosity and support from the community including daily meal deliveries for the hospital’s frontline workers and homemade masks.  Local organizations have provided critical equipment, supplies and funding for critical Covid-19 research.  This outpouring of support has been tremendously uplifting to all Sarasota Memorial staff.

 

  • Through all of this, Mr. Verinder told us that the pandemic has had a severe financial impact on the health system.  Sarasota Memorial experienced a $16 revenue reduction in revenue in March.  Surgery cases fell by more than 50% and there were significant volume decreases in the hospital’s two Emergency Care Centers and seven Urgent Care Centers.  The Urgent Care Center at St. Armand’s Circle has been temporarily closed.

 

  • Fortunately, the situation has begun to turn around for the better. The hospital’s elective and non-emergency volume has now begun to increase and staff are being called back to work.  The hospital and physician offices are now better prepared to care for patients because of safeguards and work practices they have put in place.
  • The hospital is confident they can now safely resume care to all patients. The hospital has a small number of Covid-19 patients and they remain isolated from other patients.  Hospital staff caring for these patients are dedicated only to their care. Their top priority has been and always will be for the safety of patients, staff and others visiting or working in their facilities.

 

  • Mr. Verinder assured us that the hospital is now prepared should their be a resurgence of Covid-19.  The health system is receiving a steady shipment of supplies.  The hospital has ample supply of ventilators, critical care beds, and Intensive Care Unit capacity.  He is confident that the hospital has the capacity to manage any future spread of the virus. 

 

  • He encouraged citizens to visit the SMH website, www.smh.com/covid19 for the latest updates on the virus and related topics.

 

In summary, we are very encouraged by our discussions with Mr. Verinder and Drs. Gordillo and Voelker.  Not only is the hospital now fully prepared to care for all patients, but the clinical trials they are doing with Covid-19 treatments could have a significant impact on the management of the virus going forward.  We are indeed very fortunate to have the Sarasota Health System in our community.

 

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Norma Schatz May 2020 Letter

To Plymouth Harbor Democrats...and others who care:                                May, 2020    

   
     Two elections coming up this year.  In addition to the November 3rd State and Federal election, August 18 is the date for local election for members of the Sarasota Country School Board,  Sarasota City Commissioners and County Commission (for which district lines are currently in dispute). Be sure to have requested your Vote By Mail ballot from the Supervisor of Elections: 941/861-8618 or www.sarasotavotes.com.  While you don't have to use your VBM ballot, not only does Covid-19 continue to be a potential interference but these elections are in hurricane season.  

     Your signature verifies your ballot.  If your signature has changed (a tremor or injury, or it just varies), request and return a new voter registration application from the Supervisor of Elections.  It's a good idea to make and keep a copy of the signature you use.   
     To support Margaret Good for U.S. Congress District 16 against Vern Buchanan go to margaretgood.com    For volunteering to help the local Democratic party: sarasotadems.org/volunteer.
    
     In Florida… Gov. DeSantis signed a bill making it more difficult to get  citizens’ initiatives on the ballot, adding more requirements for gathering voter signatures. The bill passed the GOP-led Legislature along partisan lines, Democrats opposed.  Republicans again opposed expanding Medicaid that would have afforded 800,000 Floridians’ access to health care. As of mid-April, Florida lagged behind 21 other states in coronavirus testing.
     In Washington…confusion continues in dealing with Covid-19. Dr. Trump provided dangerous podium proscriptions. The man tapped by HHS Sec’y Azar for coronavirus response is a former dog breeder with no medical or public health experience, and the FDA has failed to validate many of the needed coronavirus tests.
With more than a  million cases and 60,000 deaths, Trump is turning over responsibility to the states and Jared
Kushner claims the federal government response to the challenge “is a great success”.    
    

How our lives and activities have changed!  The news is very much concerned – as it should be – with the coronavirus.   Less attention is being given, unfortunately,  to some actions of  the Executive branch.       

     Anything here bother/interest you enough to make a call or send an email?  And surely vote for change.

     The US Postal Service is in real jeopardy.  Democrats in Congress want more money for it, especially with the importance of voting by mail. Trump opposes help for the Post Office and Republicans have long wanted  private corporations to take it over.     
     At a town hall meeting broadcast by FOX News recently, President Trump said “We'll be cutting entitlements like Medicare and Social Security” His 2021 budget also includes cuts for CDC and NIH.
     The Dept  of Justice is still fighting the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in court. President Trump has refused to extend the enrollment period to assist those who are now without health care.
     The EPA plans to devalue the importance of science and research when weighted with economic considerations.  Another cancer-linked pesticide that can drift and contaminate groundwater was approved and fuel efficiency standards have been lowered.  Yet another gift to polluters: Covid-19 is being used by the EPA to announce that they would not be actively enforcing environmental protections for the duration of the crisis.

     The Dept of the Interior has continued to lease huge swaths of public lands to oil and gas interests and to mining; the reopening of our coastal waters to more oil exploration (and spills) is on hold, not dead.

     Trump has made one of his signature defense priorities building Gateway Nukes - nuclear weapons seen as “more usable” in conventional wars if the president decides it’s ok to use them.  The administration has  also lifted the United States prohibition against the used of landmines. 

 
     Trump has eliminated independent oversight over the Coronavirus relief funds.; there is limited public information on where business grants were going.  Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has $500 Billion in corporate relief money to sprinkle on friends, family and Trump donors.    Sen. Rubio 202/224-3041; Sen, Scott 202/224-5274; Rep, Buchanan 941/951-6643 or email them. "The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”Alice Walker.  

Norma Schatz
nrma520@yahoo.com

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H.R.1 "For the People Act"

House Resolution 1 (H.R.1) “For the People Act” passed by the House in March 2019 is critical legislation that protects our voting and elections from both foreign and domestic attacks.  This omnibus bill strengthens our democracy by legislating changes in voting rights, ethics, and campaign financing.  Dr. Dale Anderson spoke to the Longboat Key Democratic Club (LBKDC) in October, focusing his remarks on H.R.1. The bill is crucial for the future of our democracy, but it is currently being blocked by the Republican-controlled Senate.  H.R.1 will only be passed if the Democrats win the Senate in November.  In addition to defeating Donald Trump, the legislation is a  "rallying cry" to get all Democrats to vote in November. 

Below is the H.R.1 brochure developed by Dr. Anderson and the LBKDC, which contains Dr. Anderson's presentation material. Pages 1-4 provide summary details about the 700 page H.R.1. Pages 5 and 6 present the Republican party's undemocratic rationale for are trying to block it.  You can download a copy of our brochure HERE.

 

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Organizing Corps 2020

I hope that you and your loved ones are doing well during this very difficult time. My name is Molly Ingalls, and I'm the Lead Coach for Florida with Organizing Corps 2020. I’m reaching out to share information about Organizing Corps 2020, a project to train organizers to work on the presidential campaign for the Democratic Party.

Organizing Corps 2020 is offering Virtual Bootcamps to ensure that the future presidential nominee has the staff needed to take back the White House and put competent leaders in seats up and down the ballot. Now more than ever, campaigns will need smart, effective, and trained organizers who are ready to problem-solve, adapt best practices to a physically distanced world, and develop creative ways of connecting with volunteers and voters in order to bring new possibilities to life and make campaigns and elections truly accessible. I’m contacting you because I want to make sure that the opportunity to join Organizing Corps 2020 in this work is available to your community.

In May, Organizing Corps 2020 will host 1-week virtual organizer trainings for those with local connections to AZ, FL, GA, MI, NC, PA, & WI. Admitted corps members who complete the program will receive a $500 technology and supplies stipend as well as direct support in securing a full-time, salaried position on the presidential campaign through November 3, 2020. The deadline to apply is April 18th. Program details and the application can be found at organizingcorps2020.com.

Can you share this opportunity with your network, and help Organizing Corps 2020 connect with people interested in working on the presidential campaign? I especially hope that this message can reach:

  • People living in or going to school in Florida or other battleground states who are fired up & ready to go
  • Recent graduates and those interested in (re)launching their careers in politics/campaigns
  • Adults working in career development services
  • Other mission-aligned networks and communities, student groups, and alumni lists
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Norma Schatz April 2020 Letter

To Plymouth Harbor Democrats…and others who care:                                  April, 2020
    
        Hate in the time of COVID-19.  Xenophobia didn't start when candidate Trump descended  the golden escalator to rant against a Mexican invasion.  Xenophobia, racism and exclusion have long been a part of American history; Irish, Italians, Jews, Hispanics, Asians, Moslems, Blacks, Native Americans have all known it. But hate crimes have become more prevalent and white supremacists bolder in the past three years. Now, with the coronavirus affecting our lives in so many ways, fear and hate have infected the susceptible.  “Asian Americans report over 650 racist acts over last week. (NBC News 3/26/20)
       An Op-Ed in USA Today 3/20/20  by Andrew Yang, formerly a Presidential contender and Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League sounds an alarm. Some excerpts -

       “As the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic threatens to tax our public health systems, takes a toll on the economy  and upends nearly every aspect of our lives, there’s a serious risk that the compounding public anxiety around the virus could lead to the spread of another serious contagion: the scapegoating and blaming of Asian, Jewish and other minorities for this public health crisis.                                                                                       
        “In fact, the blame game already has started: We’ve seen politicians seeking to politicize the virus — decrying it as the “Wuhan virus”  for example, or suggesting that foreigners solely are responsible for spreading it; we’ve seen Asian Americans and Jewish Americans and other minority communities blamed for the pandemic; we’ve seen some pundits pointing the finger at prominent Jews as if the virus was the product of some conspiracy; and we’ve seen internet chatter from white supremacists suggesting the disease is spreading in America thanks to an influx of foreigners...While, fortunately, none of this has yet to enter the mainstream in a significant way, there’s now a serious risk that this kind of hateful rhetoric  and outright scapegoating of minorities  will take on a life of its own. We know from history that at times of real crisis in society, the voices of reason and logic can be drowned out by those who wish to spread hatred or sow discord…                              ”There have been posts on notoriously extremist-friendly platforms like Telegram, 4-Chan and Gab  linking the coronavirus to racist and antisemitic slurs and memes. Users across these channels regularly share racist messages or caricatures of Chinese people, mocking their eating habits, accents and hygiene. Posters on Telegram and 4chan appear to be cheering on the virus, hoping it will spread to predominately non-white countries.  It has also started to enter the mainstream, as political leaders and those in positions of influence have picked up on these themes. Former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has been tied to extremist groups lamented that no major media outlet has asked about ‘George Soros’s involvement in this FLU  panic. He is SOMEWHERE involved in this.’ ”  …     “While our top scientists, medical professionals, first responders and policymakers continue to develop and implement plans and rules to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, let’s do our part as a people and as a country to prevent hate and bigotry from becoming a side effect of the virus.”                              
    
        The Florida legislature adjourned in mid-March. No action on renewable energy or Death With Dignity bills and no action on banning assault weapons or any of the many gun safety bills.   Has anyone else received these unsolicited emails: “Carry a Gun Now. You Too Can Get Certified Online…” ?    Gun shops have been declared “essential” along with markets and pharmacies.  Gun sales are surging.    Who’s afraid of the NRA?                           Gov. DeSantis is still impeding implementation of Amendment 4  (approved in 2018, allowing ex-felons to vote) with an appeal to the U.S. District Court.  The Governor’s phone number is 850/488-7146.
         
         April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  Youth activists are organizing 3 days of action and awareness of climate change and the need to come together to protect people and the planet.  You can back them with your calls and emails to city, state and federal government representatives.
          
         Relying on Republicans?  The EPA issued a sweeping suspension of its enforcement of environmental laws, telling companies they would not need to meet environmental standards during the coronavirus outbreak. (The Hill 3/26/20). Days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered all restaurants to shift to take-out or delivery service, the state ordered all of its restaurant inspectors to stop routine examinations at thousands of Florida eateries. (Tampa Bay Times 3/27/20).                                                                                                                                 
         Secure your ability to vote by mail in the August local and November national elections - even if you decide you may not want to use it. Call 941/861-8618 and ask for a VBM ballot good through 2022 election.   
Norma Schatz  nrma520@yahoo.com
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The Campus Origins of Today’s Radical Right and the Crisis of American Democracy

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LBKDC Luncheon Speakers - October 2019 through March 2020

 

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE OCTOBER 4TH LUNCHEON WITH DALE ANDERSON STARTS AT 11:00 a.m. AT THE SARASOTA YACHT CLUB.  ALL OTHER LUNCHEONS BEGINNING IN NOVEMBER START AT 11:30 a.m.

 

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Mike Himowitz Presented on Threats to a Free Press

Former News Editor Mike Himowitz Spoke on Threats to our Free Press at the LBKDC March 12 Luncheon

 

Board Member Lucie Lapovsky introduced Mike Himowitz, who spent 34 years at the Baltimore Sun papers as state news editor, Washington correspondent, Baltimore County Bureau Chief,

Science, Medical and Technology editor and other positions.

Mike_Himowitz.jpgMike spoke to us on the topic of Roosevelt, Trump, Craigslist and the Media in Peril.  How do I dare mention Donald Trump and FDR in the same breath?” he asked.  Both understood the importance of new technology.  Roosevelt’s fireside chats were used to promote a radical agenda, The New Deal.  He spoke directly to the American people using radio.  Trump bypasses the traditional media and speaks directly to the American people by using Twitter.  Trump’s Twitter account has, according to CNN over 50 million followers.  Sadly, the traditional media feels obliged to repeat Trump’s Twitter rants regardless of how trivial some of them may be.  As the press criticizes Trump, it feeds on his paranoia.

“My sole credential is that I lived through the drastic changes that have transformed the media over the past few decades.  There have been many sad trends in news reporting. The market penetration of print media is much lower today than it was years ago.   “This has not been a good decade for reporters,” he told us.  There have been huge layoffs of reporters, and today’s reporters cannot get rich on a median salary that, as of 2017, is lower than school teachers who are underpaid.   When I began, the newspaper industry's profit margin was 40%, today it is 10%.   Market penetration of the print media has dropped drastically.  Large numbers of newspaper reporters have been laid off since 2007.  These sorry trends have occurred across our country.  From my own standpoint, he said, despite all of these stressors, I loved journalism because I got paid to satisfy my curiosity.

The Sun, like many other papers, was clueless with regards to the Internet. The internet, which has nurtured propaganda vehicles, has in many ways replaced the traditional news media.  We can now pick our news sources in the Cloud to support our biases.  Internet news has become an echo chamber host for propaganda machines, Fox News for Republicans and MSNBC for Democrats.  Millennials get much of their news from Facebook where there are no checks on accuracy.  Cable caused young people to begin to abandon print media in the 1980s.  Many print media sources have closed since the beginning of 2000.  The New York Daily News has laid off over half of its staff.  Companies that own both internet news sources and print news have sold off their print news.

In the old model, stories were written by experienced reporters and checked for accuracy by editors.  News reporting was separated from opinion columns.  This separation has increasingly been blurred and all but disappeared on the internet.  There is no way to totally eliminate bias from news reporting, but editors did their best to separate fact from opinion.  The free access to large volumes of shared information on the internet has nurtured malicious actors and fake news sites.  Today, anyone with a web address can become a publisher.  All of this has coarsened the quality of discussion and led to greatly heightened polarity in our political environment. And, it is easier for foreign countries to interfere in our politics.

Internet advertising services such as Craigslist, founded in 1996 by Craig Newmark, and eBay have also had a major negative impact on print media by replacing a primary source of revenue: classified ads.  Craiglist has 68 million users in the U.S.  Craigslist is free to most users.   

So, what’s left?  The largest print media newspapers are the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times.  Even these traditional news sources have cut their staffs and their profit margins are suffering. 

All this has made it more difficult for citizens to understand the reality of current politics and to evaluate the real performance of those that are elected to office.  The most disheartening aspect of all of this, Himowitz told us, is the dissolution of the boundary between news and opinion.  Even traditional newspapers, such as the Washington Post, have blurred the line between the two.   Although the traditional print media has faced its challenges for many decades, nothing compares with the drastic changes that have occurred over the past few decades, and especially the last decade.

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Foreign policy expert, Gary Massel, presents at our February 12 luncheon

Gary_Massel_2.pngOur large attendance at the February 12 LBKDC luncheon enjoyed a timely and stimulating presentation on the Rise of Populism by Gary Massel.   Board member Robert Gary introduced Massel, who has a Ph.D in Physics, and held various high level positions in the federal government Departments of Health and Human Services and Defense before a successful career in private industry.   In the early 1970s he was a member of the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) support staff. He currently teaches foreign policy at the LBK Education Center.

Gary Massel started by describing a “Populist” as a political leader who sees society in a simple way, divided into two opposing groups - the common people, and the corrupt “liberal elite”. The Populist leader claims to represent the will of the people.  Massel told us that the rise of populism poses a threat to the world order that has existed since World War II and has produced significant gains in economic growth, reductions in global poverty, and peace between the major powers. 

So, what are the principal drivers of the growth of populism and how does the current U.S. administration compare with other populist governments?

There are two types of democracy, liberal and illiberal.  In a liberal democracy citizens choose their government and that government guarantees the protection of individual rights as is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.  In an illiberal democracy citizens choose their government, but that government does not then support the institutions and personal freedoms that ensure the government remains responsive to the people. 

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Important Gun Bills in Florida Legislature

 

State Gun Control

The 2019 session of the Florida Legislature starts today. Continue to call your representatives and ask them to support HR135, the state background check bill.

Nation Gun Control
Last week was huge for gun violence prevention, with the House passing both the Background Check Bill (HR8) and the Charleston Loophole Bill (HR1112). Rep. Vern Buchanan did not vote in favor of the latter, but we continue to encourage you to thank him for being one of eight Republicans who crossed the aisle and voted in favor of HR8. His contact numbers are (941) 951-6643 in Sarasota, (941) 747-9081 in Bradenton and (202) 225-5015 in Washington. Rep. Greg Steube voted “no” on both bills, so if you’d like to tell him you disapprove, his numbers are (941) 575-9101 in Punta Gorda and (202) 225-5792 in Washington.
 
Now, on to the Senate, where you are encouraged to call three people and tell them you back S42, the Senate version of the background check bill: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has said he will not bring the bills to the floor; and our two Florida senators, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Remind them that there have been far too many mass shootings, single homicides, accidental shootings and suicides in this country and background checks are bound to stop some of them. While you’re at it, thank Sen. Rubio for filing a bill for national ERPOs (extreme risk prevention orders) on the national level. And tell McConnell that 97 percent of Americans support background checks and he owes it to all of us to let the bill be heard.
McConnell’s DC office: (202) 224-2541 (you can also contact him by going to www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?p=contact.
Rubio’s DC office: (202) 224-304. His Tampa office: (813) 853-1099.
Scott’s DC Office: (202) 224-5274. His Tallahassee office: (850) 942-8415
 

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