Life o’ Mike

Life o’ Mike contains 512 posts

The ER is NOT the answer

I couldn’t stay away from the Civic Center yesterday. Mitt Romney was coming to speak and I had to be there to counter his “the emergency room works fine” lie. See, Mitt believes people can get the care they need at the emergency room and that they won’t get a bill. Wrong and wrong, Mitt. [...]

The great migration

I’m migrating my blog entries over to our new site,, reading some of them as I go along.  It’s a long process, but it’s interesting to see how we have evolved from when we started by putting up this web site just six weeks after Mike died. We have educated, we have helped people [...]

It’s about women’s health care

I went to Charlotte yesterday with my friend, Sarah Skinner, to attend the Planned Parenthood Yes We Can rally just across the way from the DNC site. I didn’t go because of abortion; I went because millions of women get their health care through Planned Parenthood, and I don’t want to see health care access [...]

Changing our name

It’s not always easy letting go of something with an emotional connection as strong as the one I have to Mike, but there comes a time when it becomes necessary. That time has come for our name. Life o’ Mike has honored the memory of my son, who died because he couldn’t get access to [...]

A guide to affordable healthy eating

I have railed against fast food and processed food rather frequently on this blog (and in person), and people usually claim that low-income people can’t afford healthy food. Well, the Environmental Work Group has issued a new publication to debunk that myth. The booklet, “Good Food on a Tight Budget,” offers a wealth of information [...]

The truth about Obama’s “raid ” on Medicare

I don’t want to be political here, but I need to correct some falsehoods out there, especially the one about President Obama “stealing $716 billion from Medicare. Here’s the truth, as told by the New York Times (with my comments in italics): “In reality, the $716 billion is not a ‘cut’ in benefits but rather [...]

Bullying as a public health issue

In the last few years, physicians have begun to recognize various forms of violence as a public health issue. Certainly, with the number of people who are shot simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time, gun violence now is seen as a danger to health. The National Rifle Association and [...]

More problems for a broken system

At a board meeting for Western Highlands Area Program this morning, parents came forward to talk about how their children were being left to fend for themselves in a system where funds keep shrinking while the needs keep growing. Western Highlands manages the care for people with developmental disabilities, mental illness and substance abuse problems [...]

Gaps in care will improve under Obamacare

A new study by the Commonwealth Fund suggests that gaps in health coverage likely will be reduced once the Affordable Care Act kicks in fully in 2014. The study showed that more than one-third of Americans were uninsured for one month or longer between 2004 and 2007, and 23 million of them lost insurance more [...]

Another reason health care costs are through the roof

Two years ago, a nurse working for HCA, the largest for-profit hospital chain in the United States, sent a letter to the company’s ethics office claiming that physicians at one of the company’s hospitals in Fort Pierce, Fla., were performing unnecessary heart procedures in the catheritization lab, putting patients’ lives at risk. The nurse, C.T. [...]

Visit our new web site

It's official! We are WNC Health Advocates.
Please visit our new web site, Visit WNC Health Advocates
The new name reflects what we do -- advocate for health care for everyone and help people access and navigate our current health care system.
While we still hold onto the memory and the generous spirit of Mike Danforth, we need people to be able to see our name and understand who we are.

Help Life o’ Mike

We need your help now more than ever. Your tax-deductible donation will help us get Patient Pals and Family Friends to more people in need of peer support. Please consider a gift in honor or in memory of a loved one.
Donate here or mail your donation to Life o' Mike, PO Box 1213, Asheville, NC 28802.

Patient Pals & Family Friends

Life o' Mike has a peer support program for people with one or more serious or chronic medical issues or disabilities.

We aim to reduce isolation and fear among people who have conditions, including psychiatric illness, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, mild dementia or other cognitive disorder or disability, thereby reducing depression and complications as people learn to improve self-management of their medical conditions.

Patient Pals help alleviate feelings of isolation and frustration. They can help people develop a list of questions to ask the doctor and then accompany the person to the doctor to make sure all the questions are answered, taking notes to be sure the person understands the doctor’s answers.

Our trained volunteers also accompany their “Pals” to art exhibits, movies and walks outdoors, meet for coffee, call to check in and more.

Our Pals have experienced weight loss, improvement in diabetes, HIV, psoriasis, depression and more, just because they have someone who cares about them. Some relationships develop into longer-term friendships; other Pals move on to more independent lives.

Family Friends are there to help caregivers and other family members grow into their new role.

We need volunteers, who are asked to donate a minimum of one hour a week. Training is free and includes information on active listening, ways to help and when to know more help is needed.

And of course, we need funding.

To learn more, call Leslie Boyd at 828-243-6712 or e-mail

Life o’ Mike honors Joe Eblen

Life o' Mike presented its first Michael T. Danforth Community Service Award to Joe Eblen at a luncheon on June 8, in the Friendship Hall of First Congregational Church, 20 Oak St., Asheville.
Joe, seen here with Leslie Boyd, left, and his wife, Bobbie, has spent his life helping children and families, both as a coach and game official for more than 60 years, and as founder of Eblen Charities.

Start From Seed

Life o' Mike has a new program- Start from Seed (SFS).
SFS is a volunteer doula program aimed at providing non-medical, comprehensive support to low income, high-risk women and families of Buncombe County focusing on three areas:

1. We help new doulas with certification and training in return for their participation as a volunteer doula for SFS

2. We mentor volunteer doulas with their first few clients

3. Our volunteer doulas provide birth and postpartum doula services to low income, high risk moms, providing support and tools to empower them as a new parent.

A birth doula is a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; a postpartum doula provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Start from Seed clients are referred to us from the Buncombe County Department of Health’s Nurse-Family Partnership Program, Western North Carolina Community Health Services, and Mission Hospital. The Program is intended and designed for growing clients’ inner strength and helping them gain empowerment to help them cope with the emotional, physical and mental challenges of childbirth, labor, and motherhood.

Our new moms and their infants have many needs. If you would like to help them get off to a good start, please visit our Start from Seed web site: Start from Seed, or call Program Director Chelsea Kouns at 804-814-9946.

Events in the community

Free birth and labor classes

Peaceful Beginning Doula Services holds free birth forums, Peaceful Birth, 6:30-8 p.m. the last Thursday of every month (except November) at Spa Materna, 640 Merrimon Ave., above The Hop, in Asheville.
All are welcome, expectant women and their partners are encouraged to attend anytime during their pregnancy. We also encourage doulas and other maternal/child professionals to attend and share in the discussions. The forums are "birth circle" style, focusing on normal birth which follows the Lamaze Six Care Practices for Healthy Birth. The forums are led by certified and experienced educators.

NAMI Family-to-Family Class

NAMI of Western Carolina holds 12-week classes for families and caregivers of individuals with a severe mental illness 6-8:30 p.m. Mondays at Charles George VA Medical Center, 1100 Tunnel Road in Asheville. The course covers major mental illnesses and self-care. Registration required. Info at 828-299-9596 or

Contact your representatives

Ask them what they're doing to fix health care!

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