11th Sustainability Salon: Health Care Edition

  • December 1, 2012 · 3:00 PM
  • Email Maren using info below & RSVP for location!

3-10pm, Sat. Dec. 1, 2012; Located @ Maren's House in Squirrel Hill (pictured), contact/RSVP with Maren for address; Hosted by Maren Cooke

Health Care and Sustainability:  Several speakers will share what they've been doing to improve how health care is done in this country -- from a sustainability point of view.  And as the Sustainability Salon & Sing series matures, it's great to see many of our featured speakers come from the ranks of regular participants -- we have a pretty interesting crowd!

Most directly, local physician Dr. Noe Copley Woods will talk about the waste endemic to current medical practice, and efforts to green it here and around the world (e.g. ). We all know that the average American makes 4.5 pounds of trash per day. That all changes when a person gets sick. The average poundage per patient at Magee-Women's Hospital is 31 pounds of trash per day and growing. Dr Woods will discuss the environmental footprint of a hospital, what makes it so large, and what is being done to fix it. Noe Copley Woods, MD, FACOG is assistant professor of ObGyn at UPMC, is on the boards of GreenHealth and Health Care Without Harm, and is a regular speaker at CleanMed, the national conference for leaders in health care sustainability.  She's also a semi-regular at our Salon/Sings, playing fiddle and mandolin.

Since we're also seeking sustainability as a society, folks from Health Care For All/PA will share what that organization is doing to improve access to health care.  Pittsburgh pediatrician Scott Tyson, executive director of HC4APA and member of Physicians for a National HealthPlan, will speak about  what it's like being a physician and a small business owner in the face of the current health care system.

Statistician and blogger Paul Ricci, a PhD student in research methodology at Pitt who also manages the HC4APA blog (and another Salon regular), will talk about how the US spends the most per capita on health care, but has poor health outcomes compared to the rest of the world -- not sustainable from a health or economic perspective.

And we'll talk about the connection between end-of-life choices and sustainability, with a musical dimension:  there are many differences (including environmental cost) between dying in a hospital hooked up to machines, and dying in hospice care surrounded by loved ones...  Cindy Harris, leader of the Pittsburgh Threshold Choir and Salon/Sing regular (on voice and autoharp), helps ease that process with bedside song.


Back in 2008, as discussions on the Affordable Care Act ramped up, we heard a lot about "death panels" -- imagined committees of faceless bureaucrats who would dispassionately refuse lifesaving care to critically ill seniors when the cost of care exceeded the individual's value to society. Of course no such thing was ever contemplated, but there has been continuing discussion about end of life care issues and many of us have had our physicians suggest that we consider completing the "Five Wishes" exercise to give our loved ones guidance on what kind of "drastic measures" we would like them to request on our behalf if we are incapacitated. The goal is sustainability, not only with respect to the cost of healthcare, but also with respect to the dignity of the individual and the family as the end of life approaches. The rapid growth of the hospice movement is a direct response to our society's increasing willingness to discuss and address these issues on a very personal basis. Cindy Harris will review some information about hospice care in Western PA and beyond, and will demonstrate the work that the Pittsburgh Threshold Choir is doing at the bedsides of hospice patients in Allegheny County.

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On Saturday, December 1st, please join us for the eleventh Putting Down Roots Sustainability Salon, another in our ongoing series of monthly enviro-conversational gatherings with potluck food and homemade music.  Following our rousing discussions on air quality, solar power, food, trees and park stewardship, alternative energy and climate policy, and regional watershed issues, this month will focus on health care.  

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, don't forget the evening sing -- we typically run the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time is had by all.  Bring instruments if you play, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations will continue through the evening as well.


3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill.   Please email me to RSVP (important for yesses and maybes, please do so each time -- it helps greatly in several ways.  Among other things, attendance varies from 25 to 75, and it helps to have a handle on numbers in advance!) and I'll send directions and/or a trail map if you need 'em.  Be sure to include "salon" in the Subject line, as I receive a ridiculous amount of email every day.  Bring food or drink to share if you can, along with musical instruments if you play.  Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events), for updates.  And continuing my rare streak of advance planning, the next two months' Sustainability Salons will include a film screening and open discussion (so as to avoid worries about harsh weather) -- mark your calendar for January 5th and February 2nd.

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Quite a few people have asked me what sorts of food to bring -- and my answer, as always, is whatever inspires you;  I believe in the "luck" part of potlucks.  Tasty noshings for the afternoon, hearty main dishes or scrumptious salads and sides for dinner, baked goods from biscuits and breads to brownies or baklava -- and/or beverages of any kind.  The more the merrier!  Local fare is always particularly welcome, whether homegrown or boughten.  Dishes containing meat are fine, though if it isn't really obvious please make a note of it.

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-salon |səˈlän; saˈlô n |:  (historical) a regular social gathering of eminent people (esp. writers and artists) at the house of a woman prominent in high society; a meeting of intellectuals or other eminent people at the invitation of a celebrity or socialite.

Regular, that's the plan.  Eminent and intellectual people, to be sure -- that's yinz.  House, check.  Woman, c'est moi.  High society, celebrity, socialite?  Not so much.  Salons occurred in 17th-century France, purportedly powering the Enlightenment, and were more recently repopularized by the Utne Reader.  I've long contemplated hosting an ongoing series of conversational salons in this tradition: informal gatherings around the notion of sustainability.  Some will have a featured guest to lead a discussion on a some topic, others will be open to whatever comes up.  If you'd like to hear about a particular topic, or hold forth on your own area of expertise, let's talk about a future event!

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  • Justin T.

    Mostly saw Mrs. Copley-Woods speak, and the Threshold folks: great stuff. Seemed like the house was pretty much at capacity at dinnertime. Having speakers in main room and side conversations elsewhere worked great.

    December 2, 2012

70 went

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