SEVERAL WEEKS AGO I visited the Allina Clinic in Shoreview for a pre-op Covid test. A pleasant experience occurred as I was leaving the clinic.

I was taking off my mask and it got caught in a hearing aid. It pulled out and went flying. I was looking all over the sidewalk for it. A car was pulling out from the parking lot and the female motorist stopped, got out of her car and told me that it landed in the garden mulch. I found it right away. What a wonderful act of kindness.

This test was in preparation for another visit to the United Heart & Vascular Clinic in St. Paul where I had a left atrial appendage closure with a Watchman device. This is a procedure for patients with atrial fibrillation who do not wish to be using blood thinning medications on a long-term basis. The procedure was performed by Dent Underwood, MD, an electrophysiologist. 

I heard about the procedure and device which was developed twelve years ago in Minnesota. More than 150,000 people have used it over the last six years.

Boston Scientific bought the company and has further developed the Watchman as a trusted alternative to reduce stroke risk and bleeding concerns.

Many of you know we are boaters and go offshore. If there were to be any type of accident at sea, the risk of bleeding internally is high without medical care being readily available.

The Watchman is a small, flexible implant about the size of a quarter. It’s made from very light, compact materials commonly used in many other medical implants. It is placed in your heart doing a minimally invasive procedure and never needs to be replaced.

After the next 45 days, I will be leaving the blood thinners behind.

DID YOU KNOW that 11% of children in the state of Minnesota are living in poverty? Many families need decent and affordable housing. A Habitat for Humanity home can help change that.

I’ve been impressed by the Habitat for Humanity program over the years. In partnership with communities, colleges and churches, they have been able to build new homes and rehabilitate and repair others.

They also teach people how to take care of the home that they have earned with their own blood, sweat and tears.

Our daughter Stephanie worked for Habitat for Humanity in Americus, Georgia after college so we gained a great insight into their philosophy, disciplines and accountability. I think it’s one of the great organizations to support and volunteer if you have time to help build and remodel homes.

CANDIDATES OFTEN PROMISE things they know they can’t deliver on. This is perhaps more true in presidential and congressional elections, but nevertheless it goes on.

Over the years you probably remember those ploys, “A Dodge in every garage” and “A chicken for every pot.”

There have been promises to forgive all current existing student debt. That sends signals of lacking financial discipline.

I often wonder why students have no concern about racking up student debt? The government can’t keep bailing people out.

Counselors need to guide students and to recognize where they will find successful career paths, given the individual abilities and interest.

We worked hard to save and scrimp so we could help our children pay for their college. At an early age we told them, “You need to start saving for college and we will match whatever you save. Then when it comes time for college, we want you to be able to support half the state rate for tuition, room and board and we will cover the expenses beyond that for the college or university of your choice.”

There was also a monthly payment plan without interest that was available so our college grads came out debt free. Julie, our oldest, had a little extra help from Social Security because her mom had died.

If you have children in school now-whatever grade-it’s a good time to start preparing and look into all possibilities and scholarships that are available. When our kids were going to college, it was hard to find scholarships that might be available to them. Again, we need good guidance counselors to help families through this expensive bump in the road of child raising.


Gene Johnson is publisher emeritus of Press Publications.

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