Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Health Care, the CBC Convention & The Little City

It’s not everyday that one is invited to write a column in the paper, so when provided this opportunity, I didn’t want to say no. Thank you to Mr. Nick Benton and the Falls Church News-Press for welcoming my thoughts.

I am the first physician to be invited into the new “Guest Commentary” realm, so let me say something doctor-ly.

Everyone needs to get their flu vaccines, both H1N1 and seasonal versions. That includes you, Nick. The Virginia Department of Health continues to express concern that there could be another wave of the pandemic H1N1 virus which caused so much illness last fall. It’s a serious disease, so for goodness sake, get your flu shot!

While we’re talking health care, I continue to be dismayed at Congress’ lack of progress in providing health care for all Americans. Many may be surprised to hear a doctor say he is in favor of a national health care system, but I am seeing patients suffer everyday from the shortcomings and failures of our current health care milieu. If we don’t fix these problems, more citizens, friends and their families will fall through the cracks.

My frustration stems from a letter I received from our Senator Jim Webb where he stated: “most people are understandably satisfied with their health care.” This is just not true. Most people are glad when they have health care, but I would bet most could take issue with their coverage. As people’s deductibles, co-pays and premiums continue to rise, I am seeing more and more patients who can’t afford to come see me, or to pay their bills, even in this “affluent” area.

Today, President Obama met with some Congressmen to see how to move forward with health care reform, but I continue to be very uneasy about the influence that the insurance lobby is having in this area. Now would be a good time to write to your representatives if you are similarly concerned.

On to other stuff.

So-called citizen activists have had a hard time being heard lately on a number of issues. They had their first chance to shout loudly at the CBC convention. On Saturday, the City Council nomination race was contested for the first time in recent years. The convention was given a choice of three incumbent/incumbent-like candidates in Mr. Sze, Mr. Lippman and Ms. Hockenberry or two Falls Church insiders who have never held elected office in Mr. Buschow and Mr. Lawrence. The convention clearly preferred the latter. I left out Mr. Peppe because his candidacy coming from the School Board was entirely different. ┬áIt wasn’t ugly – they were all warmly received – but Falls Church voted for a change at the CBC convention.

Being friendly with all of the candidates, I celebrate the success of the nominees and I share the sorrow of the rejected. We should all be proud to have so many who are willing to step up and be our leaders.

I have two suggestions for whoever is elected in May.

First, listen to your constituency. You can disagree with someone, but do have respect for their opinion, don’t look over their shoulder for a friendlier face, and certainly don’t call them names. When you vote, acknowledge those who disagree with you – it shows you’ve listened.

Second, get buy-in before you make a decision. So many times City Council has moved forward with an idea, only to be surprised that citizens rose up in objection. The Falls Church way is to debate things ad nauseam. It may be frustrating at times, but in the end you have a more cohesive and successful community.

On the recent branding initiative – The Little City is here to stay. I suggest we adapt it to meet our needs. When all of the controversy was brewing, I conceived my own slogan: Falls Church – Close to Everything, Close to Home. Adapted, it reads: The Little City – Close to Everything, Close to Home.

We all chose to live here for a reason. I would bet that most of us are here because Falls Church is “close to everything.” Companies too should want to locate here for the same reason. We are close to major airports, major roads, the capital city – our own city only needs to sell these facts. Potential workforces would find themselves “close to home” with great schools and communities here and immediately bordering The Little City. The Economic Development Authority should use The Little City branding campaign to emphasize that we are Close to Everything, Close to Home.

As you’ve made it this far in my column, I thank you for reading. Don’t forget to get your flu shot!

Dr. Gordon Theisz is a board certified physician in Family Medicine at his practice, Family Medicine in Falls Church. Theisz is on the executive committee of the Citizens for a Better City.