Well, that was an eventful couple of weeks. To our readers in the federal government: Welcome back to work!

I lived in D.C., during the shutdowns in 1995 and 1996. I'm hopeful that I won't live through another one, but just in case, I'm looking at real estate in Canada. I hear it is beautiful up there in January and February.

But enough about that; let's dip into the H&HN Daily mailbag and see what our readers have on their minds.

Marty Stempniak's blog about whether wait times are bad or a necessary evil drew some passionate responses:

E. Mary Johnson wrote:
Are you serious? Everyone I know hates wait times in ambulatory clinics. I deliberately schedule any appt. to [the] first a.m. or first p.m. time slot — and I'm older and retired and actually have time — but I don't want to spend it in a physician office waiting room. Ask any mother, whose juggling many things, how "satisfying" she finds wait times (may help to explain why pharmacies saw upward of 9 million appts. in 2012: access, reasonable or no wait — and care by APN).

As far as patient "gathering their thoughts," most don't understand how the system works, what questions to ask and how to best use the 10–15 minutes allotted for a visit. Only a physician could view "waiting" as beneficial. His mother is probably early for everything. Have you ever known a physician who wants to wait for anything? My care is delivered at the Cleveland Clinic — and they likewise draw patients from far and wide. No one wants or likes waiting to be seen. I've been in health care for a long, long time and believe that "waiting" is a real negative to the patient experience.

Steve Albert had this to say:
First, we need to be clear with language. If your "appointment" time includes watching a film, filing out a form, or some other activity, then you are technically not waiting, because your treatment/visit has begun.

Waiting to most people means wasted time when you showed up at a time given to you and you could be doing other things somewhere else at the same time (and watching TV, reading a book, meditating, and/or visiting is NOT productive time if you are not in control as to when and how long it is). Just saying.

Senior Writer Paul Barr took a look at an innovative program at a New Jersey hospital that uses art to promote better healing.

Eileen Barsi of Dignity Health wrote to us about an initiative underway at her hospital:
One of our hospitals has a wonderful program called "Art for Healing." It is not a class to teach art; rather, it is a place where individuals come to express themselves through art. Art for Healing provides patients, families and community members an opportunity to experience the healing benefits that may come from creative expression. The center is also open to those who just want to come into a quiet and reflective space to read, pray or have a quiet conversation with others. In FY 2013, the program had 3,549 participants. Of those participants, 590 were hospital patients.

In an effort to drive search engine results (ha!), Paul called on former Playmate and current talk show host Jenny McCarthy to use her powers for good, rather than needlessly worrying parents about the imaginary dangers of childhood vaccinations. In all seriousness, Paul's blog looked at the growing concern over the overuse of antibiotics.

Jeanine Ostrowski says more attention needs to be given to prevention:
The issue of overprescribing or inappropriate prescribing of antibiotic therapy is well in the past, but unfortunately the damage had been done. The public needs education on the importance of completing antibiotic therapy as prescribed in its entirety in relation to the issue of antibiotic-resistant infectious agents. What really needs public awareness is the importance of healthy living and preventive measures [related to] junk food and fast food, inactivity related to the development of obesity in all generations and especially relative to the development of diabetes, heart and kidney disease — the metabolic syndrome.

Finally, regular contributor Joe Flower wrote a column saying that it is "time to rethink the need for hospital care."

Tim Bevelacqua liked what Joe had to say, but also thought he missed the mark a bit on one point:

A truly thought- and action-provoking article Mr. Flower! The dramatic shift from an illness-driven model to a wellness-promoting model is well-articulated in your article. However, I was left somewhat baffled by the last patient population you discussed … those who have high deductibles (who will behave as uninsured) and uninsured persons. I think you are underestimating this segment of the population that is going to make a connection with health care organizations when they are well into the disease process. Many of these individuals may also lack the technological infrastructure and/or basic living conditions in their homes/communities to support the level of in-home care described. Finally, I am always amazed that those of us in the health care industry see these dramatic (understated) changes in delivery systems very clearly. Unfortunately, the consuming public has a HUGE learning curve and a set of expectations that will not change on Oct. 1, 2013. What are we going to do to address this oncoming locomotive?

Please continue to share your thoughts with us either by writing in the comment box below each article, writing us on Twitter: @hhnmag.