Accessibility, timeliness key to service call 81

By Bruce Rothschild

How can timely service for a malfunctioning product or creation be assured in West Virginia?

“Telephone ear” waiting for online service options, long delays in obtaining appointments for service or even in obtaining a response are among the frustrations experienced in trying to resolve what are perceived as urgent problems.

Such are unfortunately a part of life. Complaining, while sometime a source of passing satisfaction, neither reduces frustration nor the underlying problem.

Rather than complain, what constructive options can we suggest to resolve the bottleneck that is as frustrating to service providers as it is to those of us being served.

One solution would be to assure that sufficient number of personnel with appropriate training and resources be available to provide the service. In a state as rural as West Virginia, it would be appreciated if such opportunities were situated within reasonable distance to those needing the service.

While reasonable distance is a moving target, what if there not only were insufficient numbers of qualified individuals to provide said service, but what if they were inconveniently located in a single non-central area of the state?

Obviously, limited resources means long and continuously expanding waiting lists — increasing delays in opportunity for service.

What are the options? Hire more personnel — if they can be found and enticed to service our state. West Virginia is a phenomenal state with a lot to offer, but I hadn’t realized just how much until I moved here. One has to visit our state to fully appreciate it and the opportunity it provides.

Another option is to not change anything, to simply suggest that the provider continue to do the best they can in providing service.

Of course, it must be recognized that the personnel have been and will continue to be running on a treadmill, with no expectance to providing more timely service in the future. That approach may, however, engender burnout risk — with a reduction of the number of providers available for service.

Perhaps there’s another consideration? Not all problems require full attention. One does not require a rocket scientist to file tax returns (although, it may seem that way).

What if there is an approach that would solve both problems — reduce the long delays and reduce the long distances that must be traveled for service?

Training regional providers of less specialized services to handle straight-forward repairs is worth considering. And, training regional providers would set up lines of communication that would facilitate timely intervention for some of the more complicated problems.

The trainers would of necessity have to be those already overworked specialty service providers and reallocating time for outreach training would temporarily reduce their local productivity.

This would produce an initial delay in service availability, but would result in far greater service timeliness and accessibility.

Bruce Rothschild is a member of The Dominion Post’s Community Advisory Board.

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Cheap clothes may have underlying ethical dilemmas 100

Who made your clothes? Do you know? Do you think about it?

Well, I do … until I see a really cute summer dress for only $15. If it has a feature I really love (perfect fit, especially pretty fabric), I waive my morals.

I’m identifying this shopping habit as a problem and am consciously trying to change; Not just for myself, but also for our society, and more importantly, for the people who make the impossibly cheap apparel we are now used to.

I picked this topic for today because it is Fashion Revolution week. This global movement marks the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse, in 2013. This was not the first factory disaster in Bangladesh, although it was the deadliest — 1,134 people were killed and about 2,500 injured.

The factory building was constructed on a filled-in pond, making it structurally unstable. An additional three floors were added above the original permit (making it a total of five stories high).

It was converted from commercial use to industrial use when clothing factories were added above apartments and first floor shops. This meant additional heavy equipment and thousands of workers.

Not surprisingly (although horrifyingly) the building owners ignored alerts of cracks in the building — evidence of its unsafeness. They instructed workers to continue coming to work and even threatened wage loss to those who didn’t.

Some time after the cracks were found and ignored, the building collapsed during a morning rush.

I was surprised that no one knew what companies sourced from these factories — not even the companies themselves. Inspectors had to look through the rubble for labels and tags and interview workers to get some idea.

As I read about this and other tragedies in the fashion industry, I learned that this is not at all uncommon. Workers have tried to report illegal conditions and actions by factory owners and managers, but since they don’t know what brands the factory produces for they cannot alert anyone.

After the Rana Plaza collapse, Human Rights Watch formed a coalition with international labor unions and labor rights groups to campaign for a pledge of basic transparency.

Major clothing producers Adidas, H&M Group, C&A, Hanesbrands, Cotton On Group, G-Star RAW, Levi’s, Lindex, Esprit, Nike and Patagonia all already practiced some levels of transparency, but they took the pledge.

This is the request of those who use #whomademyclothes on social media: Simple transparency, ethics and sustainability in clothing production. It is horrifying that we need to demand this and that the mainstream companies who supply information can be listed in a couple paragraphs of my column (there are a few others that participate in other agreements, but the list is still pretty short).

In addition to using the official hashtag on social media, we can show our support for the movement by taking a stroll through downtown Morgantown this evening between 5 and  7 p.m. to view five Fashion Revolution-themed window displays designed by a WVU visual merchandising class.

You and I can show our support for basic transparency by asking manufacturers who made the clothing they want to sell to us, by shopping fair trade brands, and by consciously and ethically choosing which big brands we buy from; which probably means no more cheap sundresses for me.

Another anniversary for university 104

It will be hardly noticed, but this month is another anniversary for West Virginia University.

The school, a land-grant institution, squeaked under the Morrill Act, signed into law by President Lincoln in 1862, and acquired 150,000 acres of land in Iowa and Minnesota on April 19, 1864, 154 years ago this month.

That land was sold for about $86,000. It was supplemented by a tad from the new state legislature and began spending just before the Morrill Act expired. As we all know it was at first the West Virginia Agriculture College that year, and became WVU the following year, on April 3, 1867.

Monongalia Academy was donated to WVU and was valued at about $51,000, That money was used to build University Hall, which was completed in 1870. It was renamed Martin Hall, and is there today under the same name. It was named for the first WVU president, Alexander Martin.

Morgantown was chosen as the permanent site for the school. The first decade was unsettled because the continued alliances established by the Civil War, which ended in 1865. Several other cities were considered.

Martinsburg wasn’t one of them because of its sympathies with the Confederacy

Morgantown’s senator William Price offered the Monongalia Academy and Woodburn Seminary to the state if the college was to be located here.

There was opposition. A senator from Pocahontas County opposed the location. He said in Morgantown it “would be a Pennsylvania College,” and Morgantown wouldn’t be a fit site for the college.

Late in the last century, a parking expert said Morgantown’s system of handling cars over a short period of time was the best he’d seen.

A 1968 study of the city’s parking projected there would be 62,900 people residing in Morgantown, including WVU students by 1990. The 1990 census had city residents at 35,000, including 22,000 students.

That proposal was that on-street parking be eliminated and that at least two parking garages be built.

The city’s estimated population in 2015 was 31,073 and student population was 29,707 in 2012. The metro area had 138,176 people.

Among the news items of 1990 was the departure from downtown by the fifth and final 5&10 store. G. C. Murphy’s was the last to pull out after 77 years. J. G. McCrory’s was the first in 1913. It was in the new Chadwick Building but moved to the old Grand Theater building in June 1931. It closed in November 1976.

F. W. Woolworth opened in 1927 and closed in the late 1950s. Kreske’s was adjacent to Wall Street, but I don’t remember seeing it, just learning about from family members.

Cappellanti’s had just closed before Murphy.s No more dime coffees.

Back to WVU. The freshman gold and blue beanie also went the way of other traditions.

I wore mine, but unlike hundreds of other, I tossed it during halftime of the first football game of the season at old Mountaineer Field. Old now, but not then, about 25 years old.

In addition to the beanie, we had a gold and blue necktie, which was neat. Most of those traditions weren’t enforced in my time, just after World War II and during the Korean War. Before that there was some hazing. Seniors delighted in swatting freshmen, not women, who disobeyed traditions.

Other requirements for frosh included (1) Don’t smoke or congregate at front doors of buildingsm

(2) display no high school insignia or colors, and (3) report all violations of university rules.

It was written that “freshmen who observe all rules .. will acquire that true West Virginia spirit.”

Amen!

‘Text neck’ is a thing — here’s how to avoid it 156

That crick in your neck you get after looking at your smartphone for a long time has a name — text neck.

The term was coined in 2014 by Florida chiropractor Dean Fishman. It’s an overuse or repetitive stress injury to the neck caused by keeping your head in a forward and downward position for extended periods of time.

Smartphone users spend an average of 2-4 hours a day texting, emailing, gaming and checking their social media sites. (In fact, you’re probably reading this blog post while hunched over a mobile device right now.)

For school-age kids and teens, it’s nearly 2-4 times more than that.

The poor posture caused by keeping your head in a forward, flexed position can lead to muscle strain, herniated discs and pinched nerves.

“Keeping your head in a downward position for an extended period of time can put pressure on the intervertebral discs and more strain on the muscles of your neck,” said Matt DeGarmo PT, MBA, WCC, the director of rehab services at Mon Health Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Weston, WV. “Children and adults alike are spending more and more time using their phones with their heads in this forward flexed position, and in the long run, this can lead to fairly significant postural deformities.”

Symptoms of Text Neck

Some common symptoms of text neck, such as immediate soreness and discomfort, can be obvious but other symptoms may include:

— Unilateral neck, shoulder and back pain

— Tingling or numbness in the arm(s)

— Stiff neck or trouble lifting your head

— Arm and/or hand weakness

For those experiencing some degree of pain, Matt suggests an active stretching program. Try these cervical ranges of motion stretches 2-3 times a day to help alleviate text neck symptoms:

— Tuck your chin to your chest (flexion); hold for 5-10 seconds

— Look up at the ceiling (extension); hold for 5-10 seconds

— Bend your ear to your shoulder, both sides; hold for 5-10 seconds

— Turn your chin to your shoulder, both sides; hold for 5-10 seconds

— Improving your posture is also important. You can strengthen your muscles and improve your posture through exercises like yoga and pilates.

However, the best way to treat this affliction is to remember to look up frequently when you’re on your device.

“Looking up every few minutes is the best way to prevent this type of condition,” Matt said.

If the pain is severe or lasts for a long period of time, make an appointment with your physician as physical therapy treatment may be necessary.

This column is provided by Mon Health.