It's A Matter Of Age

November 28, 2007
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The new Grand Rapids Art Museum continues to put the spotlight on this city. A story in the Nov. 26 issue of Newsweek mentioned the GRAM as part of its coverage titled, “Ending the Era of the Starchitect.”

The story said that, while American museums have “been on a building binge,” there are significant changes in the way such facilities are being designed and built. “There are signs that the era of ‘starchitecture’ is waning. The edgy old guard is giving way to a new generation of younger global architects — and the idea of what’s hot is cooling down, as a more understated sensibility is emerging.”

The article points to the GRAM, designed by 38-year-old Los Angeles-based Kulapat Yantrasast, as among the most recent examples of this sea change.

  • In what appears to be another case of legislative overkill (we know they don’t have anything else to do these days), Capital News Service reporter David Salisbury reports a West Michigan lawmaker wants to prohibit the state from allowing Medicaid to cover the cost of medication for erectile dysfunction, even though the state already bans such coverage.

Rep. Glenn Steil Jr., R-Cascade, who wrote the bill, said the legislation would cut back on state costs for the $8 billion-a-year Medicaid program.

Under current law, the Department of Community Health, which regulates Medicaid, must cover all prescribed drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“There’s bigger medical issues we need money for,” Steil said. “Giving people the option of having sex is not a serious medical issue.”

But James McCurtis, communications director at the Department of Community Health, questioned why a bill is in the works to ban something that the department already doesn’t cover.

“We won’t cover erectile dysfunction drugs regardless of legislation,” McCurtis said.

Steil acknowledged current state policy — but not law — already excludes such popular erectile dysfunction medications as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.

Under his legislation, it would become illegal for the department to cover the medications. However, the bill wouldn’t bar private insurers from covering those drugs.

“There’s no reason for the government to fund something that is essentially a pleasure drug,” Steil said. “It’s just for people who want to have sex.”

Surprising no one, Rick Chambers, media relations director at Pfizer Inc. in Ann Arbor, said such drugs should be covered because erectile dysfunction is a recognized medical condition “typically linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”

Pfizer manufactures the popular erectile dysfunction medication Viagra.

“We believe people should have access to all medicines,” he said. “There is a serious difficulty erectile dysfunction brings to people.”

  • Be careful in not giving the more experienced folk among us due credit for recognizing how to enjoy life, regardless of how it’s funded. We hear folks are putting away their knitting and reading glasses because there’s some real fun taking place in a local assisted living campus. Jackie Hall, Emerald Meadows’ lifestyle coordinator, reports that today’s seniors aren’t satisfied with video games that exercise only their thumbs and wrists. So when Nintendo introduced Wii, a game that gets players physically involved in the game, it became one of the first video games to take off with older adults.

Emerald Meadows, at 6117 Charlevoix Woods Court, saw the potential health benefits such a game could have. In September the facility purchased a Wii system for resident use.

Matt Lytikainen, a local teenager who helps with yard work at Emerald Meadows on a volunteer basis, helped set up the system and showed the residents how to use it. Hall has taken over the teaching since then.

Every Friday at 2 p.m. is “Wii time.” Residents gather to play virtual golf, tennis, baseball, or, most often, bowling. “Many of them bowled when they were younger,” Hall said, “and Wii brings the experience back to them — they don’t have the strength in their hands to use a bowling ball, but they can handle the Wii. They find the Wii games a little tricky at first, but once you try it out and play, it is a lot of fun!”

“We are hoping that residents will see measurable health benefits — increased mobility, better balance, weight loss, lower cholesterol — as a result of using the Wii,” Hall said.

Could the Wii also improve inter-generational relationships? Esther Nabkey, a weekly Wii-player at Emerald Meadows, also plays Wii with her grandchildren whenever she visits their home now.

Could there be a little Guitar Hero action in the young-at-heart residents’ future?

  • West Michigan Whitecaps vice president Jim Jarecki attended the recent Business Journal reception for this year’s 40 Under 40 Business Leaders class. Jarecki was present as one of the past honorees of the recognition for his efforts in leading the Whitecaps stellar business operations and was just coming away from a conversation earlier in the day with popular Whitecaps manager Tom Brookens. Jarecki lamented the probability Brookens would be offered the job as the new manager of the Erie, Pa., Detroit Tigers’ Double-A affiliate, which did go to Brookens a few days later. Brookens’ departs after leading the two-time defending Midwest League champions to another title, following on the heals of Matt Walbeck who left his Erie gig to become third-base coach for the Texas Rangers.

New Whitecaps’ field boss Joe DePastino isn’t nearly as well-known as the two major league Tigers he succeeds, but he’ll become part of a first-class organization that continues to haul down major awards as a business operation.

Minor league baseball named the Whitecaps the winner of the Larry MacPhail Promotional Trophy for all of the minor leagues. The award is given annually to a minor league team that has distinguished itself in on-field and off-field promotions. “This is a huge honor for our promotions department, lead by Mickey Graham and Brian Oropalla, and our entire staff,” Jarecki said.

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