Bulletin Daily Paper 06-08-13

Page 5

SATURDAY, JUNE 8, 2013 • THE BULLETIN

AS

Robots

against a wall. Ivey Smith, her teacher, said the children Continued from A1 had embraced the idea of havAnd despite the fantasies of ing a robot in the class and Lexie's classmates — "I want screamed with excitement eva robot so I can stay in bed all ery time it turned on. "I was concerned t h ey day," one 8-year-old said such robots are mostly last rewould be distracted," she said. "But within a couple days, they sorts for children restricted to their houses or hospital rooms. acted like it had always been As Web-based video behere. They feel special that comes more prominent as a there's a robot in their class." teaching tool, special education On a recent day, Smith's advocates say these robots are class was learning about synvaluablealternativestotutoring. onyms. She asked every stuAbout 23,000 students across dent to think of a word with the country are homebound or Photos by John W. Adkisson / New York Times News Service the same meaning as the word "Lexie" makes her way through the halls at At Alice Drive Elemen- "glassy." A moment later, the hospitalized each school year. Lexie Kinder, a 9-year-old born with a chronic heart disease that They might not otherwise in- makes attending class risky, uses a laptop to control her VGo robot. tary School in Sumter, S.C., via her tutu-wearing VGo. robot's pink and green lights teract with classmates or could blinked, and the class shouted, "Lexie!" fall farther behind academi"My word is 'shiny,'" she cally, advocates say. the classroom at Alice Drive 10 robots to schools. Since they treated him like Connor. signal. "It ends up where the "Soon, these robots should Elementary School appears then, they have sold about 40. He'd roll through the room, classmates have tocarry the said through the video screen. eYes, very good," the teacher be the price of an inexpensive on her computer screen, and Most robots are bought with and you'd hear 'Hey, Connor. robot down the hall," she said. laptop," said Maja Mataric, a video of her face appears on state or local money marked Hi, Connor.'" In Sumter, Shawn Hagerty, replied. "Good answer." computer science professor the robot's display screen. The for disabled students, but at Parents have raised privacy the director of special educaB etween c l asses, L e x i e at the University of Southern robot and Lexie's computer some schools, parents have concerns about children ustion programs for the school g uides the robot down t h e California, who studies how support two-way voice com- held fundraising events or ing cameras in class. But Ned district, bought a robot after hallway. At day's end, she rolls r obots help c h i ldren w i t h munication, and L exie can bought the robot themselves. Semonite, the company's vice seeing Verizon'scommercial. it to a charging station. On the learning d isabilities. "They flash her VGo's lights to get In Huntsville, Texas, education president for marketing and The teachers set aside a day way out of class, one child, Hashould make access to educa- the teacher's attention. officials bought five VGos last product management, said it when students could meet and zel Grace Kolb, waved goodtion much easier for students Since 2007, VGo, based in year and are planning for five was no different from a smart- play with the robot. bye to the machine "See you tomorrow, robot," who are convalescing." Nashua, N.H., has been selling more next year. They named phone or Web camera. Lexie's robot has its own Mataric'sresearch focuses the robots to company execu- the program "Morgan's AnThe g r e atest lo g i stical desk and c h arging station she said. on using robots to teach so- tives who want to keep an eye gels" after a student with can- challenge is maintaining an cial cues to children with au- on employees while traveling cer who missedschool for six I nternet c o n nection. L o r i tism. Children adapt far more and to doctors, who use it to months but was able to attend Gearhart, of Colesburg, Iowa, quickly to the technology than "visit" patients at different hos- remotely with the robot's help. said her grandson, Aidan Baiadults and treat the machine pitals. Two years ago, it realized For students like Connor ley, 9, was able to use the robot like another classmate, she schools might be a new market. Flanagan, 14, of T y ngsbor- after his lung collapsed last says. During a fire drill at one The first classroom model was ough, Mass., the main benefit year. His science class was Texas school, students were sold to a school in Knox City, has been social interaction. He studying insects, and Aidan You may notsave the world, but you can so worried about the VGo that Texas, to be used by a child does not go to school because kept a cocoon in his hospital they insisted on escorting it with an immune deficiency. of a rare lung condition, but he room. He would show classsave a lot of money by refinancing your out of the building to safety. The company's big break has stayed intouchwithfriends mates videos of its transforhome with SELCO Mortgage. The VGo is 4 feet tall, weighs came during this year's Super while awaiting a transplant. mation into a butterfly. "He walks down the hall18 pounds and is shaped like Bowl. Verizon, which provides Other times, she said, the roGive us a call today! a white chess pawn, with a the LTE wireless connection way kind of l ike everybody bot, which was bought through 15-YEAR FIXED video screen on its face. Lexie forthe robot,ran a commercial else," said his mother, Jennifer a c o mmunity f u n d raising controls its movement with about a student using VGo. Be- Flanagan. "The kids — aside effort for A i dan, could not her computer mouse. Video of fore the ad, VGo had sold about the fact that it was a robotreceiveenough of a wireless

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gal department, they can stymie the whole operation," he Continued from A1 said. "So our only solution was What it does:Establishes Each of the 15 CCOs must to go to the Legislature." a pilot project in Marion determine how it will use its Salem H ospital o f f i cials and Polk counties in allocated f u n ds, i n c luding say they, too, where left with which a coordinated care how much it will pay the difno choice other than to file a organization's board may ferent hospitals, physicians lawsuit. The CCO had argued petition the state to remove and other health providers in that the hospital must first go and penalize aboard its region. through a mediation process member. But for months, Salem Hosas outlined by its contract. What's next:The "You can't claim the organipital and W i llamette Valley House Waysand Means Community Health have not zation doesn't have a contract, Committee will hold a been able to agree on whether and then say they have to do public hearing Monday. the hospital'spre-CCO contract mediation under a c ontract remains inforce and whether you say doesn't exist," said the hospital should be paid hospital spokeswoman Sherat 68percent or 64 percent of patients, but t hey w o uldn't ryll Johnson Hoar. "Our only M edicarerates.Last year, the be active participants in the alternative was to go to court." hospital filed a lawsuit against transformation process. Many The two sides have agreed the CCO over the contract is- believe that would be a death to mediation and have settled sue, and so far they have not blow to the effort. on a mediator. But the CCO "It's n ot even g i v ing a wants the mediation to be limentered into mediation. T he bi ll , i n t r oduced b y chance for CCOs to w ork" ited to the contract dispute, Reps. Brian Clem, D-Salem, said Andy Van Pelt, chief op- while the hospital wants to and Kevin Cameron, R-Sa- erating officer for the Oregon address otherissues as well. lem, would create aprocess Association of Hospitals and Meanwhile, the legal and the by which a CCO could petition Health Systems. "This is just legislative processes continue, the Oregon Health Authority completely counter to what ev- albeit at glacial speeds. "I have interpreted that to to remove perceivedtrouble- erybody agreed to." makers from the CCO board. mean that there's not enough Forced-out members would be About CCOs support for the bill," Conger barred from contracting with CCOs were set up to be lo- said. "The law is a very blunt the CCO for five years and see cally designed and locally run, tool. It's not a scalpel by any their payments cut to 58 per- with safeguards to ensure that means. And something like this cent ofMedicare rates. local providers worked togeth- could make a change to the sys"It's clearly a poison pill," er to improve care. Each CCO tem that's pretty significant." Willamette Valley CCO Chair must exceed benchmarks in Many believe the bill is priRuth Bauman said. "It's meant at least 75 percent of 17 qual- marily meant to pressure the to be a very severe penalty." ity measures to receive a full hospital back to the negotiatWhile the measure would payment, and that is unlikely ing table. Bauman noted that apply initially only to the Mar- to happen if they don't work the hospital didn't agree to meion/Polk CCO, the bill calls for together to improve care. diation until after the bill was state officials to make a recomThe Salem dispute is one introduced. More importantly, mendation on expanding the of the first cracks in what has the dispute is keeping the Marrules statewide after 12 months. been a charmed start for the ion/Polk CCO from making And that has hospitals in other Oregon healthreform efforts. further progress in transformparts of the state worried. The Obama a dministration ingcare. "It's a distraction that we Many are now considering agreed to front the state $1.9bilresigning from CCO boards lion to help transform the Med- have a s i g nificant p artner so they won't be exposed to a icaid program, and Oregon has that's not coming to the table," drastic cut in Medicaid rates been highlighted repeatedly as Bauman said. if they run afoul of the other an example of how the federal Hospital officials maintain board m embers. M e dicaid Affordable Care Act will help they still believe in the CCO makes up such a large per- improve health care. approach and want to find an centage of a hospital's revenue But if the process bogs down amicable resolution. "We are hopeful that it will that such deep cuts could un- in payment disputes, those dermine their ability to care goals might be hard to reach. work," Hoar said. "We're going "Everyone is digging in and into mediation with good exfor low-income patients. "That is (a) very, very, very saying, 'Give me my share,'" pectations, that this is going to dangerous proposition," said said Dr. Bud Pierce, a Salem be the catalyst for having great Robin Henderson, executive oncologist and past president relationships in the future." director of the Central Oregon of the Oregon Medical AssoProviders across the state Health Council and director of ciation. "If people maintain the would like nothing more than government affairs for the St. idea that the whole system is set to see the dispute resolved, Charles Health System. "This up to exploit them, then we're and the legislation scrapped is a health system that has re- never getting anywhere." as soon as possible. "If they're going to do medisponsibility to the community. Pierce says HB 3309 was the We have to keep the wheels on last resort for trying to resolve ation," Henderson said, "then the bus." the dispute. this bill should come off the "Quite frankly, if the hospi- table right now." If hospitals abandon the CCO boards, they could still tal doesn't want to cooperate — Reporter: 541-617-7814, contract to care for Medicaid and use the resources of the lemthawryluk@bendbulletin.com

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