A Pretty Taxed Army

Those of us that routinely bypass downtown Branson, by cutting off of East 76 at Wendys,  know that The Church Army (CA) has a marginal thrift shop a block or two along the route leading to the Bridge.  Not being a long term resident, I didn't know the scope of The Church Army.  I now know that it is much more than a mere thrift shop. Apparently last evening this Branson based Non-Profit Organization had a gathering at the Hilton attended by a reported crowd of 500+, a mixture of staff, clients and benefactors, I was told.  Further, to my surprise, I was told that CA's client/residents in Branson number somewhere over 200.  A quick check at their website clarified that the client/residents are those disenfranchised by drugs, alcohol, incarceration, etc. Where do all of these "clients" live, I wondered.  Today, I still don't know the full answer but I did learn from a young man working in the Old Branson neighborhood that he lived at a small, poorly maintained, old bungalow just down the street from the CA thrift shop, along with 9 other CA clients.  I verified it to be accurate that each of the 10 clients pays CA seventy five dollars weekly for this shared residence reported to offer 2 baths one refrigerator and wall to wall beds.   It is Saturday and hardly a day to quiz the CA staff, but it seems like a "rack rate" slightly above the Hilton.  I need to have this explained more fully! 


Hey Sisters, Show Some Mercy!

I wonder how many small Ozark Businesses in this "near depression era" cry "NO MERCY" when they read their Accounts Receivable Reports showing absurd delinquencies from the Number One Rated Health System in  the World, our very own St. John's Health System.  I ask this question, not because I lifted from St. Johns Accounting a copy of what I suspect is a very long Accounts Payable Report, but merely because I have heard years of complaining from a few friends and acquaintances that are so hard up for clients that they are willing to wait as much as a year to get paid on routine invoices.  Further, I deduce, St. Johns is most likely not so Accounts Payable savvy that they selectively abuse just certain suppliers.  My guess is that every one doing business with the "Health Care Giant" is forced to wait and wait along with the indigent ER patients.  If others who are economically unable to stand up to The Giant have had the same experience, then a little "Twitter World" publicity might work wonders.  Maybe we can straighten out the "Twisted Sister" 



Gregory, as in House, the CBS drama, tonight responded to a particularly egregious patient symptom by offering up "Crunch", a self mocking tribute to his perverted delight in a really really extraordinary disease.  Not that I am claiming House socio pathetic tendencies but........every morning I wake up, look at the evolving Branson, and say to myself something kinda like, "Crunchy".  Perhaps most who read this will see neither the point nor the humor, but then, only 17% of Branson's Internet Connected  speak "tweeter".  The point is that it is entirely believable, this Spring, that Branson is as far from homeostasis as House's patient. The best response may well be the "rush of the puzzle" and not the "head in the sand" strategy  where everyone runs around sounding of platitudes like "whatever goes down must then go up".  In summary, we here in the spring of 09', live in a real "rubric cube" town.  Best we roll-up our sleeves, muse "Crunchy", and start doing some real 21st century civic work.      


A "Baldknobber" State of Mind


As Eminem says, "There's a little bit of Slim Shady in all of us". So, I suspect, it is so for we locals who know well the Shepherd of the Hills Legend.  It has been some time since I last had an "Old Matt's Story" fix, but here in '09, some would say that again times are so tough here in the Ozark Mountains that it's time we start following in the shoes of "dad" and bury all of our Baldknobber Ways.  If shouldn't take much discovery to see the burden that many in our community are now carrying.  Tonight "60 Minutes" did a segment on the closing of the only indigent chemotherapy program in Las Vegas and the resulting human devastation resulting from the Hospital's dwindling "tax based" funding. Next on CBS was the CMA awards, an extravaganza affair offering gowns, glitter and gaming, in, you guessed it, Las Vegas.  No, Branson is not Las Vegas, and Andy's Little Place is not the Bellagio, but, I for one hope the hell that the hypocrisy evident in Vegas stays in Vegas.  I futher hope that the deep moral strength of our communities Shepherd of the Hills Heritage rises to the occasion and builds a "Cultural Bridge" linking our town's equally conspicuous "haves" and "have nots".  What's in Your Wallet?     


Intro to "Faith Based Health"

"Faith Based" is a popular phrase in the Ozarks.  What is means is, of course, as subjective as is the meaning of faith itself.  My sense is, and I think most will agree, it references "motive".  This week, I spent a little free time discovering what "Health Care Resources" are available to the relatively large and growing number of adults in Branson who have no financial/lifestyle means of maintaining a relationship with a Primary Care Doctor, much less enjoy the benefits of any Hospitalization Insurance.  I have previously written about personal experiences with friends and acquaintances that evidence this profile, and was just looking for a standard answer that I might offer up as the inevitable next time comes when I hear, "I'm injured/sick but don't have any money". General awareness lead me to four sources for a better understanding of how, in the future, I might reply to such expressions.  The first was, of course, Branson City Government.  I had a minimal exposure to the Branson City Health Department.  They reviewed some building plans I had offered up for a permit and decided that I needed one more sink in the kitchen.  They easily affirmed that neither primary/urgent/critical care was on their agenda.  They pointed me to option two, which was the Taney County Health Department.  I visited their offices out on Bee Road and had a pleasant conversation with Jean Miller, the Office Manager.  She explained that at least in the past and present the County offered no resources for injured/sick indigent adults.  She did confirm that some resources such as child immunizations and infant care are available through their offices.  She did confirm that these offered services, including the at least 6 employees working in the Branson office, were funded by County Taxes and funds received from one or more Missouri State Agencies.  Jean did reveal that recently a "Faith Based Free Clinic" had opened in Branson and suggested that I give those in need a copy of a  08' article in the Branson newspaper indicating that the clinic would open in November 08'.  She further advised that another "Faith Based Clinic" with a larger and more comprehensive agenda was to open sometime in late 09'.  Next, I contacted Skaggs Hospital, the non-profit hospital serving our community.  I had an extended conversation with Cheryl Fortenberry, Social Services Director.  She spoke to the Hospital's policy to screen all emergency care requests ( its  regulatory mandated for non-profit hospitals).  She confirmed that their screening/stabilization services was not a substitute for ongoing treatment and referred me to the same two "Faith Based Clinics" pointed to by Jean at Taney County Health. Last on my list was the Missouri State Medicaid program, now renamed Missouri HealthNet.  For those who are 65 and older and indigent or less than 18 and the child of indigent parents, this is I suspect a resource.  Again since this was not my objective, I left many questions unanswered and went directly to "the only game in town", namely the existing and proposed "Faith Based Clinics"  I will offer up my findings in a subsequent post.