Making it work

Sunday, January 27, 2008

While the economy may be the No. 1 issue right now, concerns about the cost of health care continue to bubble to the surface. Politicians say they have plans to deal with health care, but a Cape Girardeau doctor isn't waiting for the government to help. He is enlisting the cooperation of hotels here to address a real need.

Frequently, patients of Dr. Joel Ray, a neurosurgeon, must drive several hours when surgery is scheduled. Many choose to drive the day before the surgery and then must find lodging. And some patients aren't up to a long drive home after surgery and after being released from the hospital. Ray's plan is simple. Thanks to generous hotels, an arrangement has been worked out for patients to get discounted rates for accommodations.

These arrangements were made through an organization created by Ray called Providers Assuring Rehabilitation Efficacy, or PARE. Ray hopes PARE can encourage other money-saving opportunities for patients.

What if every provider took such an interest in the effect the actual and related costs of health care has on patients? The result would be thousands of dollars of savings -- all without government intervention or subsidies.

It's good to see this initiative. John Echimovich, director of operation for MidAmerica Hotels in Cape Girardeau, called the effort "visionary. It's something you just don't see every day." It would be good to see more.

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