Posted by Frank Wooldridge
It’s all fun and games at Bakersfield Breakfast Rotary Wednesday morning meetings until Past President Ron Nelms takes the podium, then we are supposed to get serious. A very serious Ron led us with his invocation. Ron spoke encouraging words of peace and unity, which I am certain resonates with all Rotarians. Ron perfectly described through his few words a world that simply could work together toward good with outcomes that build a standard of hope and humanity with benefits to be enjoyed by all. Hopefully, we as Rotarians can put into practice the words from our weekly invocations as a way to demonstrate the joy of giving Service to Others.
 
Following America’s flag salute, Bill Black standing in for songstress Carol Smith, received his 5 minutes of fame doing what he does best...singing songs by Johnny Cash. For the morning’s selection, Bill chose the Cash song Folsom Prison. The Beacon Clue is, at what location did Johnny Cash perform this perennial hit live. Thank you, Bill, for your baritone voice and lyrics you supplied to everyone to set the stage for a festive meeting.
 
Past President Jackie Maxwell brought a friend of hers as a guest, fellow farmer Holly Kuns. Welcome Holly! Hope to see you again soon.
 
Trying out their luck for the first time as greeters, new members Myrna Arias and Erick Bautista, took a crack at the difficult, and profitable way of getting acquainted with members. The rookies did well!
Cool Pete Leveroni made his appearance as club program chair to introduce one of the most recognizable faces in our local health community. Ken Keller Chief Executive Office of Dignity Health Memorial Hospital visited with us to report the current goings on in providing health care. Beginning in 2003 at Memorial Hospital in the business development department, Mr. Keller reminisced of the days when he shared office space with BBRC members David Lari who was a hospital controller and Past President Jerry Starr who served the hospital as an administrator. Mr. Keller didn’t say it, but I’m thinkin’ everything he knows today he likely owes to a Breakfast Rotarian. Well Mr. Keller consider the debt paid, by your kindness in spending valuable time with us!
 
With only a brief time to spend with us, Mr. Keller did all he could to supply us with as much information to qualify everyone in attendance at the meeting to become “junior” hospital administrators. But that is as much status as any of us want, as Mr. Keller’s challenges sound like they are not for the weak hearted. The hospital, he says, is up against some real daunting economic challenges. Did you know that the hospital, as a business is the only industry that 100% of what services they provide are discounted? Substantially! Sometimes, according to Mr. Keller the costs to perform medical procedures and levels of care cost more than what the hospital is eventually paid by insurance companies. What sets these stringent reimbursement guidelines for service rendered standards? Often insurance providers Medicare and Medi-Cal do, as they set the rates…Federal law folks!
 
A conversation about health care cannot be held with at least something mentioned about COVID. Happy to report, Mr. Keller stated that COVID numbers are significantly down, so down that he told us that there was a day last weekend in which there was not one patient in Memorial Hospital that had been an admission related to COVID. That is the first time that report has occurred since the outbreak. To further our peace of mind, he told us that other Kern County hospitals are reporting similar positive news about the reduction of COVID patients in their hospitals.
 
Albeit, whole COVID ordeal, mostly bad, there was some growth in expertise that evolved from the pandemic. As we all know staffing shortages, supply chain shortages and fear of the virus itself, posed a daunting and uncertain method of response to health care providers. Only through well managed protocol and a lot of patience, trial and error, our local heath care providers came away from the whole experience much better to respond effectively to the virus in the event of another uptick of people became infected. What Mr. Keller describes as a major evolution in medicine post-COVID is how medical services will be provided in the future. Perhaps not only because of what was learned during the early months of COVID, but due to the ever-increasing difficulty of reimbursement of medical services rendered, doctors over the next 5 to 15 years will display methods of treatment that suit their ability to run their practice much differently.
 
As an example, delivering health care through more advanced technologies, i.e., Artificial Intelligence “at the tip of your finger through phone apps” and competition from private corporations that promise to further early diagnosis and lower pharmaceutical costs, will become commonplace. I am certain that we welcome such innovations, as we all want to live healthier and longer lives, but I am still concerned that what sounds good may not be necessarily shared by all. What I am talking about is preventative well care. Currently, Medicare does not reward, or incentify cardholding members to an annual comprehensive physical. Why would they not do that? Wouldn’t you think that they would want to prevent people from becoming sick through early diagnosis? I don’t know, I’m only your Beacon writer and I’ll stick to that. I’ll also stick to my weekly workout routine, as my solution.
 
We want to thank you Mr. Keller for your many years of dedication to Memorial Hospital, particularly all the little Miracles that occur daily there. I am sure there are a number of Breakfast Rotarians that were little Miracles there once too, besides myself.
 
**Announcements**
 
Happy to broadcast Happy Birthday celebrations even though persons having them would rather not. Yet, it is our BBRC custom to give recognition to those that are. Consider the celebration to be another year in membership in our club which just gets better over time. Such is the case for Marlene Heise and Athena Collup both who are birthday celebrants. Congrats ladies and thank you for being such a big part of our life through Rotary friendships. A couple of wedding anniversaries to report too. Ken Quarnberg and Javier Reyes and their wonderful spouses are marking another year of marriage bliss. Ken 32 years and Javier 2 years. Javier, take a tip from me, if ya wanna do the marriage thing right, talk to Ken!
 
We premiered two past presidents of Breakfast Rotary, Randy Merriman 2012-13 and the Honorable Steve Shayer 2013-14. Both were beloved presidents during their tenure and they had much to say of how our club got better while they were at the helm. I will have to say, we are told that old soldiers never die, they just fade away. Well, I wonder what happens to long lost Breakfast Rotary past presidents? There certainly are a number of them we truly miss being a part of our fine club.
 
Our current president, Jeff Haynes has announced that on April 30th from 10am to 2pm in the parking lot of Urner’s Appliance 4110 Wible Road, Bakersfield Regional Homeless Collaboration will hold a drive for essentials for needy families. Please respond to this call to action by donating household items, such as soaps, paper goods, etc. to those in need. There will be a number of Rotary volunteers present so come join. It is expected to be a great success with your support.
 
The Thousand Flags Memorial Day event should be on everyone’s calendar. The event is a major project BBRC produces each year. It is an honor to provide recognition to our veterans and first responders. Thousand Flags is how our club does that. Past President Denise Haynes is excited as we are about the upcoming event. She tells us that all hands are needed to ensure the events success as the event runs over a three-day period. Plan on volunteering for one or more of the many opportunities to help make this year’s event another 1st class success.
 
Other notes of interest are that you may just want to calendar the date of June 24th as The Prez’s demotion date. Past President Dave Spalinger will need volunteers with a sense of humor to make our president know how much we are appreciative of his dedication to our club.
 
A raffle was held and Donna Schwartz was very happy about the outcome. I don’t know why? Her husband Jeff won the prize of $62 dollars and if you know Jeff like I do, Donna is not going to get any of Jeff’s winnings…stay tuned.
 
In Rotary,
Frank Wooldridge