A Monster Of A Tourist Draw

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Well the Mogollon Monster

Is a real mean mother

And he lives to be in the woods

He lives off litter and old beer cans

Dolan Ellis “Mogollon Monster”

Oh my. They’re coming: The Monster Mob. This Thursday at 7 p.m., the Animal Planet will host a meeting at the reportedly haunted Oxbow Saloon to solicit stories about close encounters with our beloved Mogollon Monster — the scourge of litterbugs everywhere.

Well — that’s according to Dolan Ellis, Arizona’s State Balladeer.

The producers of the television show say that they’ve already interviewed 20 people who have sighted the creature — a seven-foot-tall version of Bigfoot. Shaggy, with reddish/black/brown hair — the creature has the howl of a terrified woman and an uncanny knack for leaving behind absolutely no physical evidence of its existence, no matter how close the encounter.

But hey, we’re big fans. We hope that the Animal Planet gets all kinds of lurid accounts, ranging from blood curdling to humorous. We hope they decorate the walls with plaster casts and recordings of the monster imitating a mountain lion and some ambiguous DNA.

Let the word go out: We’ve got perfect weather, stocked trout, miles of bike trails, 200-mile views, friendly people, reasonably priced hotels, great restaurants, the Tonto Natural Bridge, the site of the future Whoevertheheckitsgonnabe University and (wait for it) — the Mogollon Monster.

So come on up. Look around. Sit beneath the full moon and wait for the screams. But — just so you know: Best not to be tossing your beer cans out in the woods.

If you go camping in the wood wild

Don’t you throw nothing on the ground

The Mogollon Monster can smell it for miles.

He’ll come a rooting around.

The dragon in its lair

The system’s broke — in lethal ways. Fortunately, the Mogollon Health Alliance has the vision and the courage to dream dreams of unreasonable grandeur.

The visionary group of health care advocates has applied for $25 million in federal funds to revolutionize the delivery of medical care in rural Arizona. The group still has only about a one in 50 chance of landing the grant, but the application demonstrates the group’s determination to serve the people of rural communities throughout the state.

The Alliance wants to turn every doctor’s office into part of a regional system that connects doctors, patients and distant specialists.

Dr. Alan Michels and Payson Mayor and MHA President Kenny Evans have played a leading role in developing the grant application. It’s an audacious — but essential effort.

The Alliance wants to create high-speed Internet links that would allow doctors here and specialists anywhere to jointly examine patients, discuss treatments and review medical tests. Instead of shuttling patients back and forth to the Valley — along with bundles of medical records — the system would allow doctors to solve dangerous medical mysteries in real time.

The proposal highlights the lethal inefficiencies of the current system. Residents of rural areas must cope with the deadly inequities of our still mostly fee-for-service system. Lacking enough patients, rural areas cannot attract specialists like neurologists, endocrinologists, rheumatologists and many others. But real-time video links to such specialists will allow local doctors to treat patients far more efficiently and quickly. Moreover, those links will likely save a lot of money, by preventing delays in treatment and needless medical flights.

The Alliance must also find a way to convince insurance companies to change the way they pay doctors who offer expert advice during consultations. The current system lavishes money on procedures but turns miserly when paying for knowledge — and time spent with the patient.

As a result, the U.S. spends more than twice as much per person as other advanced industrialized nations — and twice as great a share of its GNP. Yet despite that lavish spending, we’re one of the only advanced nations without universal health care coverage. This failure to control health care costs remains the single greatest cause of the federal government’s soaring deficits.

So the Alliance has challenged the dragon in its den with its grant application. The odds are long, but the courage is inspiring.

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