By Robert Cohen Executive Director Text Only

Ten Commandments for health care reform

Ten Commandments for health care reform

In December, my father spent a month rehabilitating from his
second stroke in a health-care facility. One hundred years
ago, such a place would have been called a sanitarium.

I was fortunate enough to live less that one-half mile away
from Sun-Bridge Care Center, and was there each morning with
freshly cut canteloupe and honeydew. I passed from shock to
anger with each meal served to my father. Toast with butter,
eggs with sausages or bacon, skim milk. Lunches were worse.
Mystery meat swimming in fatty gravy. Few vegetables. No
fruit. Dinners were more of the same. I met with the nursing
staff, dietician, and nutritionist to no avail. "That's what
got him here," I would tell them. I could have gotten a more
positive response talking to my living room wall. I shopped
and cooked and brought over meals, leaving their fare

I wrote four columns about my father's stroke:

Stroke of Bad Luck

Partial Recovery

The Cause

Vegan Cure

I've recently began to read the brilliant work of health
reformer, Ellen G. White. White set up nursing facilities
for people who needed to recover good health. One hundred
years ago, her words of wisdom became a model for health
sanitariums. I've compiled ten quotes from her writings,
which could very well serve as a list of Ten Commandments
for health care reform.

Commandment I

"These people have lived improperly on rich food. They are
suffering as a result of indulgence of appetite. A reform in
their habits of eating and drinking is needed. But this
reform cannot be made all at once. The change must be made
gradually." (1904)

Commandment II

"It is the duty of the physician to see that wholesome food
is provided, and it should be prepared in a way that will
not create disturbances in the human organism." (1901)

Commandment III

"Physicians who use flesh meat and prescribe it for their
patients, should not be employed in our institutions,
because they fail decidedly in educating the patients to
discard that which makes them sick. The physician who uses
and prescribes meat does not reason from cause to effect,
and instead of acting as a restorer, he leads the patient by
his own example to indulge perverted appetite. The
physicians employed in our institutions should be reformers
in this respect and in every other. Many of the patients are
suffering because of errors in diet. They need to be shown
the better way. But how can a meat-eating physician do this?
By his wrong habits he trammels his work and cripples his
usefulness." (1896)

Commandment IV

"When a physician sees a patient suffering from disease
caused by improper eating and drinking or other wrong
habits, yet neglects to tell him of this, he is doing his
fellow being an injury. Those who understand the principles
of life should be in earnest in striving to counteract the
causes of disease." (1905)

Commandment V

"An important part of the nurse's duty is the care of the
patient's diet." (1905)

Commandment VI

"The patients are to be provided with an abundance of
wholesome, palatable food, prepared and served in so
appetizing a way that they will have no temptation to desire
flesh meat. The meals may be made the means of an education
in health reform. Care is to be shown in regard to the
combinations of food given to the patients." (1902)

Commandment VII

"Let fruit be placed on the table in abundance." (1902)

Commandment VIII

"We must remember that the habits and practices of a
lifetime cannot be changed in a moment. With an intelligent
cook, and an abundant supply of wholesome food, reforms can
be brought about that will work well. But it may take time
to bring them about. (1904)

Commandment IX

"The food placed before them must necessarily be more varied
in kind than would be necessary in a home family. Let the
diet be such that a good impression will be made on the
guests. This is a matter of great importance. The patronage
of a sanitarium will be larger if a liberal supply of
appetizing food is provided." (1901)

Commandment X

"Fresh air, exercise, pure water, and clean, sweet premises,
are within the reach of all, with but little expense; but
drugs are expensive, both in the outlay of means, and the
effect produced upon the system." (1885)

Please post these reforms in your local health care facility
when visiting a friend or loved one.

Robert Cohen, author of:   MILK A-Z
Executive Director (
Dairy Education Board

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