Cleaning out the notebook: From baseball to health care

Published 11:00 am Sunday, June 25, 2023

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From deep sea tragedies to nail-biting baseball games, it’s been a doozy of a week. And with summer in full swing in the Miss-Lou, it’s time once again to clean out the ol’ reporter’s notebook.

• Let’s be clear: I’m not an LSU fan. But I have plenty in my family and after watching Thursday’s win-or-go-home game between LSU and Wake Forest, I found myself cheering on the Tigers at the College World Series. It’s an admittedly odd feeling for a tried-and-true Ole Miss alum, but the Tigers have played incredible baseball this week. The matchups against Wake Forest are some of the best games we’ve seen in years – and Tre Morgan’s play in the bottom of the eighth is the stuff of legends. So, I’ll say it here, for all posterity: Geaux Tigers!

• Baseball offered a welcome diversion this week to the news about the tragic fate of the Titan deep-sea submersible. For four days, we tried to cling to hope that the five men on board the Titanic-bound submersible might be alive after the vessel lost contact and communication on Sunday afternoon. By late Thursday, the worst was confirmed: The Titan suffered a “catastrophic implosion” on Sunday that killed all five passengers. While we can mourn for the loss of the adventurers and for their families left behind, watching the saga has also led to more than a little self-realization. I never knew so many of us are admitted claustrophobics whose worst nightmares involved words like “deep sea” “sub” and “bolted in.” May God grant the men rest and peace. And may this incident be a wake-up call to the adventure industry to submit to more rigorous safety certifications.

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• Here in the Miss-Lou, though, when we think of water we think of the Mighty Mississippi River and, close behind it, Lake St. John and Lake Concordia. On July 1, the annual Blessing of the Flotilla takes place at Lake St. John – an event that promises plenty of patriotism and more than a little good cheer. The annual event is the highlight of the summer season for many of the folks who enjoy lake life, and it’s one of the unique events that makes the Miss-Lou so endearing for residents and visitors alike. This year, the beloved Steckler family will be the grand marshals, and it’s a fitting tribute to a family that has been part of the flotilla since it began in the 1990s.

• Thinking about the flotilla brought back fond memories of the late Dr. David Steckler and his wife, Dale, who were two of the most humble and tireless volunteers in our community in the late 20th century. Dr. Steckler was passionate about the medical community, from the state of the hospitals to the services provided for residents. And I wonder what insights he would offer today as state leaders wave warning flags about hospitals in crisis and the state of health care – and access to health care – in Mississippi. Earlier this week, State Health Officer Dr. Dan Edney issued another warning during an interview on a radio station, saying “we have a spectrum of hospitals that literally see their drop-dead date ahead of them if something does not happen.” He went on to cite the Delta as “the concentration of all the struggles we’re having in healthcare just magnified” and then warned that “Southwest Mississippi is right behind them.” Natchez, he said, is “doing OK. Not great, but OK” but he warned other areas of the region are not. It’s a warning we’ve heard often and one that deserves heeding. From recruiting physicians to ensuring access to affordable health care and services, we have real challenges in Southwest Mississippi and throughout our state. And meeting those challenges is going to require leadership, vision and tenacity.

The notebook is filled with lots of other notes and thoughts, but I’ll save those for another week. In the meantime, here’s to watching some good baseball.

Stacy G. Graning is regional editor of The Democrat. Contact her at