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Rahall: Children’s health is a national priority
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.), in keynote remarks at the May 11th groundbreaking ceremony for the Children’s Hospital at Cabell Huntington Hospital, called on the medical community to help combat obesity, especially among children, in southern West Virginia.
Citing an editorial in his Congressional District’s paper, the Huntington Herald Dispatch, Rahall said, “When 42 percent of Americans are predicted to be obese by 2030, that translates into 32 million more Americans being obese than there are today, and an additional cost of $550 billion in weight-related medical costs. We must act, because if we don’t, we will soon see a generation of children die before their parents do.”
Excerpts from Rahall’s remarks follow:
Remarks of U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall
Children’s Hospital Groundbreaking Ceremony
Cabell Huntington Hospital
It is a big mistake to say Huntington has a medical community – the truth is, Huntington IS a medical community. Today, we open another door to that important fact. This is a groundbreaking moment, not only for Huntington, but for southern West Virginia and Ohio, as well as eastern Kentucky.
Cabell Huntington’s recommitment to the larger Tri-State area’s most precious resource – its continued commitment to all our futures by investing in our children’s medical care – and its lasting commitment to partner with Marshall’s School of Medicine – all spell better health, longer lives and a higher quality of life for all touched by Cabell Huntington’s healing hands.
Cabell Huntington has always been known as the people’s hospital – so when they knocked on the door of the People’s House in our Nation’s Capitol, I answered and listened and learned about their plans and went to work to secure the federal funding to help with this project.
I sought one of those often ballyhooed, so-called evil, earmarks. After due deliberation in Congress, the people of this Country have responded with a resounding – yes, the Nation will contribute to Children’s Hospital. And they are contributing to an innovative idea that Cabell Huntington came up with to appeal to children.
And entryways matter – even more when kids are sick and tired – and the last thing they want to do is to enter a faceless, uninviting building that looks like it’s for adults only.
Cabell Huntington’s plan to capture kids’ attention from the very start of their stays here is more than Madison Avenue marketing; it has practical medical applications as well. Calming fears builds confidence and a positive attitude. This is the stuff of which we build successful medical outcomes.
Cabell Huntington’s aim is right on target, as well. The acute care needs of our youngest are invaluable in so many ways.
The health of this Nation is something more important than a political football to be kicked around in presidential politics every four years. I mean when 5th graders’ -- yes 5th graders’ -- high blood pressure is the headline instead of their high test scores – we have a medical emergency brewing.
When 38% of Logan County’s 5th Graders have high blood pressure and 45% of them are overweight – we must act.
When 42% of Americans are predicted to be obese by 2030 – which, as the study cited in a Herald-Dispatch editorial a couple of days ago pointed out, translates into 32 million more Americans being obese than today – and with an additional cost of $550 billion in weight related medical costs – we must act.
And let us act -- not out of some left leaning liberal social state scenario that we are obliged to care for the less fortunate, though Christ Almighty himself would hardly object. Nor, even must we act out of deference to some rightwing defense hawks who argue a HEALTHY combat soldier can better watch the backs of his comrades and defend the security of our Nation than can an unhealthy overweight soldier—though, surely, a common defense does make absolute common sense.
Let us act, because if we don’t, we will soon see a generation of children die before their parents do.
The people of this City, this County, this State and this Nation have invested heavily in this hospital. We know your burden is already a heavy one. But your expertise and resources need to stretch beyond your walls.
Huntington took it on the chin a few years back about the state of our health. In retrospect, that dubious ranking we received may have been the blessing in disguise to chart a new course for families’ health in the greater Huntington area. The food and health revolution continues to take root.
As I said when I began my remarks, Cabell Huntington opens a new door for the Tri-State and southern West Virginia. The good book instructs us that, to whom much is given, much is required.
I hope the lessons and leadership we are learning here in Huntington and Cabell County can be shared with our sister counties down south -- as together we build healthier lives and families to strengthen our nation’s economy and security. Working together, we will succeed.