Tag Archives: hospital

Nurse Cynthia’s Lime-Pear Gelatin Salad



I can remember this modest dish at our table several times, as well as presenting itself at various church pot-luck dinners. The idea is simple: make two large box of lime jello in a 9×13 glass casserole dish. Refrigerate until the jello starts to set, about a half an hour. Finally, add canned or fresh pear halves to the jello, leaving a least an inch of space between them, and chill for at least another hour until well set. Cut into squares, one pear-half per person. If you’d like to dress it up, spread the top with a mixture of equal parts prepared whipped cream and sour cream, and sprinkle with chopped walnuts. It’s here to stay.


I can just imagine troubled but intrepid character Gary, compelled to spend several weeks attending an inpatient mental health program, eating more than his fill of Jell-O. He might even protest my including the recipe in The Reluctant Archivist, considering the close association with hospital food. But his complaints would probably be to no avail. Lime-pear gelatin is now a staple, including the ready-made Jell-O brand cups. What 70’s foods do you wish would have gone out of style with platform shoes? Let me know at juliehadler.com.


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Part of JFK’s Vision for (Mental) Health Care?

Photo1297FYou value privacy in your health care, but if that privacy prevented your primary MD and a specialist or two from coordinating your various treatments, you might feel differently. And the state of Minnesota seems to be leading the charge in enabling MDs, paramedics, and ER clinicians to share information when needed.

I assert this is even more crucial for people with long-term mental illness. Family and friends,  strained by the person’s unpredictable or unpleasant behavior,  may be unavailable or unwilling to take the time to advocate for the patient. When docs can’t access the treatment and medication history needed to create a personalized treatment plan–look out!  People are misdiagnosed, prescribed duplicate or previously intolerable meds, and are at great risk for relapse or re-hospitalization.

Many of us remember the Community Mental Health Act, passed during JFK’s administration. The Act funded construction of outpatient community mental health centers, with the good intention of making the psych unit obsolete. Medical and treatment monitoring boosted patient autonomy and positive self-image. Unfortunately, the under-funded programs didn’t translate into enough centers to accommodate the many people who needed them.

Because of the push from government budget concerns, groups of hospitals, home care agencies, and physician practices are finally collaborating. Sharing information via integrated software networks is permitted as patients sign a release upon admission. Having sympathized at the bedside with hundreds of patients insisting “their doctors never talk to each other,” I know this is not an isolated problem.

Whether or not I am a JFK-admirer is not the point. I think JFK would be encouraged and pleased with Minnesota’s Community Health Network. Not to mention coalitions such as Rush University Medical Center’s Bridge Program, here in my good ‘ol Chicago.





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