News Briefs January 17, 2014
by Monte Sahlin
Adventist Today regularly provides a summary of stories that we have decided do not require in-depth reporting, but our readers may want to be aware of.
A new documentary exploring the unique aspects of Adventist schools by independent filmmaker Martin Doblmeier is entitled “The Blueprint: The Story of Adventist Education” and has been released on DVD. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination sponsors the second largest faith-based school system in the world and its “blueprint” can be traced back to founder Ellen G. White, who, in the mid-19th century, introduced a concept of wholistic education for mental, physical, social and spiritual health coupled with intellectual growth and service to humanity. The film tells the stories of several young people and their families at eight schools, ranging from inner city New York to a southwest Indian reservation to small towns and suburbs. A decline in enrollment at some Adventist church schools, actually driven by the changing demographics of the denomination, has led some parents to question whether Adventist education can still deliver quality academics, says Elissa Kido in the documentary. She is a faculty member in the School of Education at La Sierra University and directs CognitiveGenesis, a survey of more than 50,000 students at 800 Adventist schools across North America. The documentary demonstrates that students in Adventist schools consistently score much higher on standard tests. Doblmeier reports that students at Adventist schools score “considerably” above the national average in science, despite critics who have questioned whether good science can be taught in the context of creationism. He is not a church member and he is an award-winning film maker who produces regularly for the Public Broadcasting System (PBS).
The United States Postal Service has issued a commemorative stamp honoring Desmond Doss, the first conscientious objector and the only Adventist to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, the nation's top military award. Doss was given the medal for his heroic service as an unarmed medic during the battle for Okinawa in the Pacific during World War 2 when he saved the lives of 75 wounded soldiers. Doss died in 2006 at the age of 87 and was the subject of a 2004 film, The Conscientious Objector. He cited early childhood images of Jesus and the Ten Commandments with forming his resolve to be a conscientious objector, a more position against the use of weapons and violence that is rejected even by many Adventists today but is consistent with early Adventist beliefs and moral stands.
Andrews University is offering the only online masters degree in public health (MPH) with an emphasis in nutrition and wellness at any institution in the United States. It recently announced a limited time offer of a 50 percent reduction in tuition for the first wave of enrollments. The program prepares health professionals to serve their communities and congregations by promoting healthy lifestyles through personal and community efforts. More information is available by contacting Fiona Lewis by Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adventist Health System (AHS) has settled one of several "whistleblower" lawsuits against one or more of its institutions. Late last year Marlan B. Wilbanks, an attorney at Wilbanks and Bridges who represents one of the whistleblowers told a legal news service that a settlement had been arrived at but the details were not announced. Wilbanks represents Amanda Dittman, a former bill-coding and reimbursement compliance officer for AHS, who sued the health care organization along with Dr. Charlotte Elenberger, who used to practice in the emergency department at Florida Hospital in Orlando. They accused the nonprofit affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church of improperly overcharging Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, a related Florida state program, for emergency services under the False Claims Act. By settling out of court both sides avoid testing the cases in front of a jury and the additional expense of extended litigation, as well as potential future criminal charges. Other whistleblower cases are still pending against AHS.
Adventist Health is the 12th healthiest company in America according to the service company that provides analytics, best practices and benchmark data on employer health promotion activities. The ranking is based on a year-long assessment process. Adventist Health is one of five nonprofit health care organizations affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist denomination in the United States. It serves communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. It has 21,000 employees, 4,500 accredited physicians and 3,000 volunteers.
Adventist Healthcare has withdrawn from the competition to build and operate the new hospital that the Australian government wants to establish in French Forest, a northern suburb of Sydney. It was included in the final three organizations in the proposal process, but withdrew leaving the two largest health care organizations in the country. The contract would have provided that after the first 20 years the institution would revert to public ownership.