Houstonian Corner (V14-I10)

Interfaith Unity Day Brought Faith of Religions & Commonality to Serve Society

The Muslim Council of USA, under the leadership of Syed Shahid Ali Sunni, organized the most memorable inaugural Interfaith Unity Day at the prestigious Verizon Wireless Theater in downtown Houston this past Sunday. Appreciable number of people attended the event.

Keynote speaker on the occasion was Sarah Irene Joseph AL Rashid, CEO & Editor-in-Chief of emel, United Kingdom. Present on the occasion were Honorable Mike Laster, Councilperson District “J”, City of Houston; Honorable John Healey, Jr., District Attorney, Fort Bend County, Texas; Honorable Ronald Green, Controller, City of Houston; Honorable Alexander AL Green, Congressperson from the 9th Congressional District, Houston; Honorable Adrian Garcia, the Sheriff of Harris County; Syed Fawad Ali Shah, Commercial Attaché, Consulate General of Pakistan, Houston; Reverend Diane McGehee, Director, Center for Missional Excellence, Houston; Rabbi Steven Morgen, Board Member of the Jewish Federation, ADL, & Interfaith Ministries of Houston; Ajit Giani, Office of External Affairs & Media, Houston Baha’i Community; Elliot Gershenson, President/CEO, Interfaith Ministries of Houston; Chaya Timmaraju, Member of Board of Directors, Vedanta Society of Greater Houston; Venerable Hui Yong Shih, Jade Buddha Temple; and many others.

All the speakers spoke on the main theme of the event, and that was “Interfaith Unity for Humanity and Better Society”. At every moment, Americans are striving to make our Union better and better. People of faith and religion are in large numbers in USA and have to do their very important role in this crucial endeavor to better our communities; by coming together to understand each others’ faith, and respect the differences; bring forth the common values of serving the humanity; and as such utilizing this diversity to strengthen the American society: Prosperity of All.

Reverend Diane McGehee said that her faith teaches to stand against oppression, and love the enemy by praying for them and pardoning.

Sarah Irene Joseph AL Rashid, who converted to Islam at the age of 16 in 1988 after being brought up as a Catholic, talked about Muslims being followers of Mercy Unto the Worlds Muhammad Peace Be Upon him. She said mutual understanding among people of faith is very important, as enemies of peace in this world, want to divide people of faith on the basis of unfounded fear.
“We will strive to make it an annual event. Hopefully next time, more people will attend, and we will bring forth even more enhanced program & vision,” said Syed Shahid Ali Sunni of the Muslim Council of USA. For more information, people can call him at 1-281-250-7101.

Major Progress Switching to Electronic Records

Enrollment process for Texas hospitals, health care providers mirrors nation

The number of hospitals using health information technology has doubled in the last two years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Recently released data indicates that nearly 2,000 hospitals and more than 41,000 doctors nationwide have received $3.1 billion in incentive payments to help them institute the use of health IT.

Texas is putting up good numbers of its own, according to Stephanie Goodman, spokesperson for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Goodman reports that as of Feb. 18, more than $208.9 million in incentive funds have gone to 211 Texas hospitals and more than $56.5 million has been paid to 2,704 health care providers.

“The enrollment process has gone really well in Texas,” said Goodman.

The goal of the incentive program is to move hospitals and health care providers to the use of electronic health records (EHRs).

The American Hospital Association conducted a survey in 2011 that revealed that 35 percent of hospitals in the United States were using EHRs. That figure is up significantly over the 16 percent reported in 2009. Additionally, 85 percent of hospitals indicate they are likely to apply for incentive payments by 2015 to install the technology. The funding, from the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, will provide medical records that can follow patients wherever they receive health care. Its goal is to improve the quality of health care, make it more efficient and reduce medical errors.

In January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) paid out incentive funds totaling $519 million to providers. The incentive payments can total as much as $44,000 under the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and $63,750 under the Medicaid program.

Goodman said that in Texas, HHSC is ready to start the audit process. “That’s going to tell us a lot more about how well our doctors and hospitals are doing in implementing and using electronic health records. We don’t just want to have new technology in place. We want to use it to improve patient care.”


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