Luray – #1

I did only the caverns. I drove down Interstate 81 and turned off the highway for the 15 mile drive to Luray. The signs are clearly marked and the entrance to the caverns is covered by a rather ugly spanish style pavilion. It was a Sunday and the parking lot was crowded – lots of Japanese tour buses.

The admission fee is $19 for adults. You assemble in the waiting area and they let groups in every 5 minutes or so. There are no guided tours really. You walk along the pathways and every little bit there is a “guide” but they don’t really give a spiel.

The walking tour takes about an hour and the vertical descent is 165 feet so it is a fairly easy walk for caverns. There has been quite a bit of “development” in the cave so the walkways are wide and there are handrails. Unfortunately, to do this it looks as if there has been some damage down in terms of knocking down formations.

About 15 minutes into walk there is a reflecting pool that is interesting, there is the requisite wishing well, and then towards the end there is a small formation called the fried eggs that you should look for. You exit the cave into the gift shop, but the clerk mentioned that there is nothing for sale that is actually from the cavern itself.

Rating B-

Copyright 2007

Valerie Arkoosh, MD – Candidate for Congress (Part 3 of 3)

Valerie Arkoosh, MD, is a former Chair of Anesthesiology, a health policy expert, and a candidate for Congress running in the Democratic primary in the 13th Pennsylvania district. We recently had time to speak to Dr. Arkoosh about her career as a physician and what she hopes to accomplish if elected to Congress.

Val Headshot 2 2 Valerie Arkoosh, MD   Candidate for Congress (Part 3 of 3)

Dr. Valerie Arkoosh

What are the most important skills you learned as a Chair that will help you if you are elected to Congress?

As an anesthesiologist you learn very early how to always appear calm!

But, really, I think the skills of bringing people together who often have very different viewpoints about what needs to happen next.

And, getting people to sit down and talk and getting agreement on what’s in the best interests of our mission and really keeping people focused on the most important thing.

I really honed those skills and, frankly, I think those skills will be really incredibly useful in congress

If you are elected to Congress what will be your first priority legislatively?

Number one on my list is raising minimum wage.

If we haven’t already raised the minimum wage by then that would certainly be one of the first pieces of legislation that I would like to get involved with.

We have 35,000 families …. in the 13th living at poverty level or below. Two thirds of minimum wage workers are women and this is really an issue that needs addressing and quickly. Some states have already raised the minimum wage

Right now, Pennsylvania uses the federal minimum wage which is $7.25/hr. The president has proposed raising that to $10.10 and that just happens to coincide with what’s considered a living wage here in the Philadelphia area for a single adult.

A living wage takes into account what it costs to buy food, rent, those sorts of things in any community. What is difficult is that if you look at what it costs for an adult with one child here in the Philadelphia area that living wage jumps to almost $20/hr.

So, we are not going to have a minimum wage in that range obviously. But, I think what has to go hand and glove with that number is also making sure that people have access to affordable child care, that they have paid family medical leave, some of these other pieces that can make that living wage not so difficult to achieve .

Do you support the proposed increase to the $10 figure supported by the President?

I would much prefer it to be closer to $12. I think here in the Philadelphia area that gets us in a much better position for more people.

What is one little known fun fact about you?

I just love to eat candy. I’m like a little kid with candy. I have a real sweet tooth.

Disclosure – the interviewer is a long-time colleague and admirer and supporter of Dr. Arkoosh’s endeavors, starting with jointly performed liver transplants many years ago up to the current campaign for Congress.

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Valerie Arkoosh, MD – Candidate for Congress (Part 2 of 3)

Dr. Val Arkoosh is an Anesthesiologist by training and a current candidate for Congress in the Pennsylvania 13th Congressional District. We recently had the chance to speak to Dr. Val to get her thoughts on being a doctor and being a candidate.

Why did you decide to leave full time clinical practice at Jefferson and go to into administration?

The position I left Jefferson to take was a pretty exciting one.

You might remember that Allegheny opened this hospital for women. It was PCOM’s old hospital on City Ave.

And they opened it up and reconfigured I to be a hospital for women. So they moved all the OB GYN, gyn onc ,breast surgery, most women’s services from Hahmemann and Medical College of Pennsylvania to that new hospital for women on City Ave. So that was actually the position that I left for.

Val OR 1024x682 Valerie Arkoosh, MD   Candidate for Congress (Part 2 of 3)

Anesthesiologist Valerie Arkoosh, MD

Looking back were you satisfied with your new position?

That was just a really great opportunity for me to really focus on women’s health as well as take on additional leadership and administrative responsibilities in the department.

How soon after you took your position did the hospital close?

After I had been there for 18 months, so I had really exqusite timing.

After the closing what did you do?

It was about 6 months after the system came out of bankruptcy in the spring of 1999 that I took over as Chair of the entire department of Hahnemann and MCP. I had academic responsibility for St Christopher’s as well, although I didn’t have budgetary authority at St Chris.

Why did you decide to stay in a health system that was so troubled financially?

Number one, I was very committed to the faculty I had recruited and the programs I was involved in bu ilding and that we had worked on in that hospital for women. I didn’t want to abandon people.

I also thought it was a really interesting opportunity to be in the midst of a system that was emerging from bankruptcy. I was actually able to draw on my economic background quiet extensively.

And, I was very curious to see how the partnership between the medical school which at that point was under the umbrella of Drexel – how that relationship would work with Tenet, which was the for profit owner of the hospitals coming out of bankruptcy.

Why did you end up resigning and leaving the Drexel system in the summer of 2004?

Two things happened.

When you are Chair in a troubled system and challenged system you get a very deep understanding of some of the problems in our healthcare system kinda writ large.

And at the same time my patients …. were just falling through the cracks in our community – lack of a job that paid a living wage, poor educational opportunities, and private health insurance companies that routinely discriminated against women with preexisting conditions.

I decided that I wanted to have a better understanding of the policy side if the equation. So, I stepped down so I could go back to school.

I went over to Penn in a part time clinical position with part time clinical duties so I could start school, which I did at Johns Hopkins in 2005 to get my Masters in Public Health. And, I focused on US health policy in that master’s training.

What would you say was your biggest area of growth during your two Chair jobs at Drexel?

The most important thing was learning how to both manage and lead – and they are two different skills in some ways – during very complicated and uncertain times.

We had weeks during the bankruptcy where we did not know if hospital doors were going to be locked when we came in the morning.

There was a day at City Avenue hospital where we were doing about 12-15 deliveries a day at that point and we only had 10 epidural trays left in the hospital. So, you are realizing that you may not have adequate supplies to take care of your patients.

It was a pretty tumultuous time and I really learned so much from that.

Disclosure – the interviewer is a former colleague and longtime supporter and admirer of Dr. Arkoosh’s endeavors, starting with the many liver transplants done jointly in the middle of the night up to her current Congressional campaign.

Valerie Arkoosh, MD – Candidate for Congress (Part 1 of 3)

Valerie Arkoosh, MD, is an Anesthesiologist, past President of the National Physicians Alliance, and a candidate for Congress running in Pennsylvania’s 13th Congressional district, located in Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County. We recently spoke to Dr. Arkoosh about her roles as a physician and health policy expert.

Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska.

Where did you go to college and what was your major?

Northwestern University and I got a BA in Economics.

Continue reading "Valerie Arkoosh, MD – Candidate for Congress (Part 1 of 3)">

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Drs. Michelle Griffin and Suchitra Sumitran-Holersson of the University of Gothenburg comment.

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Dr. Amy Reed is one patient who is now battling stage IV cancer after the procedure spread leiomyosarcoma cells contained within a fibroid throughout her abdomen.

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