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Archive for February, 2014

Chicago Auto Show

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

photoThe McCormick Place in Chicago is lit up with hundreds of sparkling new vehicles from major manufacturers around the world. It is the 106th Chicago Auto Show, which has been opened to the public since Saturday, Feb. 8 and will go on until Monday, Feb. 17.

I had the opportunity to attend the preview for media last Thursday, and as always, found myself dazed with all the new reveals and features of the vehicles.

For the first time, I ventured out to take a couple of indoors test drives with a colleague from Xinhua News. Maybe a “test drive” is a bit of exaggeration since a designated driver from the manufacturers that set up each of the three indoors tracks was behind the wheel. To us, it was actually a relief to sit through the ride instead of manipulating the seemingly difficult drive on our own.

photo 2We first tried a Jeep Cherokee and I was pleasantly surprised by the smoothness of a steep climb that looked like over 40 degrees.

Jim Morrison, Director of Jeep Brand Product Marketing, told us afterward that this all-new Cherokee features a nine-speed transmission, parallel and perpendicular parking assist.

It will be available in the U.S. market in a couple of months and in China later this year, Morrison said.

We also tried the Toyota 4Runner SUV. I was amazed by the different conditions of climbing, two-foot deep water, sand, mud, rock that the limited indoor track was able to accommodate and how nice the ride was.

photo 3 copyMany manufacturers, including Kia, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Chevrolet, Volvo, Volkswagen, and BMW held conferences to introduce their vehicles throughout the day. We stopped at many displays, but only attended the Nissan announcement.

When we were attracted to a new 2-door Mastung coupe, Steven Ling, North American Car Marketing Manager at Ford, told us the new features of the 2015 model.

“It’s an all-new platform and engineering,” he said.

He said the new model was showcased at the Shanghai Auto Show last December and will be introduced to China later this year.

“It will be the first Mastung ever introduced to China,” said Ling.

Ford also features a new F-150 pick-up truck at the show.

photo 3Doug Scott, Truck Marketing Manager, told us that this new model’s upper body is made of high-strength aluminum alloy instead of steal, reducing 700 pounds in weight for the vehicle.

Half a day was gone without our realizing it and we had only walked through half of the show. Go visit the show if you can. You will enjoy the experience.

Jian Ping: author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature length documentary film. It is directed by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. The film will be on PBS nationwide in May 2014. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.

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Emergency Health Care

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

DrandERPicture150My wife, unfortunately, slipped and broke her leg couple of weeks ago and I had to call 911 for an ambulance. I followed the ambulance to the Emergency room at our local hospital. I had to park to my vehicle and when I arrived at the reception desk, I was told that the paperwork had not caught up with her admission, and was asked to wait 10 minutes or so while the computers confirmed all the relevant information. It was about 10:00 AM in the morning and consequently the Emergency room was nearly empty.

While I was waiting a young family arrived and sat themselves down nearby. There was a little girl in a stroller, perhaps 2 to 3 years old, a young mother maybe in her early to mid-20s, and I presume her mother, a woman in her mid-40s. The little girl was agitated and whining, and so the mother gave her a bag of small cookies to munch on. She and her mother appeared to be sharing a bag of Lays chips. The young mother was attractive, but somewhat overweight, but her mother was clearly obese, with an enormous stomach under a large baggy sweatshirt. Her weight and size gave her more of a waddle than a walk.

After a few minutes they were approached by a medical assistant in a green smock with a stethoscope around his neck, and a clipboard. I listened to their conversation.

“What seems to be the matter?” he asked the young mother.

“My daughter has a diaper rash,” was the response. He appeared to be writing down the information.

“Is that it?” He responded.

“No”.” interjected the older mother. “I have had back pain for weeks.”

The medical assistant duly took notes on his clipboard and asked them to wait.

This episode gave me pause for thought. No wonder, medical costs in this country exceed every other developed country in the world by 100% or more. Why are these people going to the Emergency room, for a diaper rash and back pain? Surely even if they don’t have insurance, they could consider an Urgent Care office, a much cheaper proposition than hospital emergency care. I wondered what the cost of treating these two ailments was going to be. A diaper rash for a two-year-old, I would think has some fairly simple solutions. Back pain for a forty-something obese woman probably had no solution. Walking around with an enormous protruding stomach, would clearly create back pain for anyone. Her solution would clearly be to lose substantial weight, but eating Lays chips at 10 o’clock in the morning does not bode well for the necessary discipline to achieve that goal.

My wife was treated in Emergency and we eventually left the hospital with her leg in a splint at around 5:00 PM.  By that time the Emergency room was packed with a variety of people of all ages, most of whom I presume had come after work.  We know that today millions of people use the Emergency room as their primary care office, lacking insurance cover to seek any other help.

We have to find answers to our soaring medical costs. Will Obamacare be the answer? Will this family be able to find insurance? Would they be willing to pay for insurance? If not are they going to be able to continue to use the Emergency room at the hospital for their slightest ailments? These are issues that have to be resolved if we are going to have a modern cost-conscious comprehensive health care system in the US.

 

Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden: www.bearanyburden.com

 

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