Report on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Turning Point Project

Lawrence R. Huntoon, MD, PhD
Article Type: 
May/June 1998
Volume Number: 
Issue Number: 

With the recent report of the “Medicalization of Schools,”(1) it is increasingly important that all physicians act as Medical Sentinels in their own area so as to report and to prevent the insidious spread of this medical mischief.

On December 10, 1997, I attended the “Turning Point” Conference that was held at the Chautauqua Institution just outside of Jamestown, New York. I had noted an article in the local newspaper which reported that a $60,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson and Kellogg Foundations had been made to the county health department for the Turning Point Project.(2) I learned that Chautauqua County is one of three areas in New York state and that our state is one of 12 states which has been chosen for this Turning Point Project.

After reading the following words in the article, “community coalitions and collaborative partners will be used to reshape public health initiatives in our county as we move into the 21st century,” my interest was piqued.(2)

The conference was well attended by local politicians, social workers, school nurses, clergy and church-related functionaries, a few local physicians, representatives from the State Health Department, Centers For Disease Control and State Supreme Court, and a host of health-related agencies. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) was mentioned only very briefly at the beginning of the day-long conference, but the long-term goals of the Turning Point Project were never explicitly revealed to the attendees. The main focus of the conference was on the AIDS crisis that impacted Chautauqua County recently and on what could be done to prevent a similar disaster in the future. We note that crisis, whether real or manufactured, seems to be the pheromone that attracts those who are adept at using it as a springboard for achieving more government control over our lives. In this case, the crisis was unfortunately real and propelled little Jamestown, New York into the national media spotlight recently when it was discovered that a man, who had reportedly been told that he tested positive for the HIV virus, had unprotected sex with a number of local high school girls. Some of his contacts have since tested positive for the HIV virus and many more have been placed at risk from both primary and secondary contacts. It was a story that may not have attracted much attention had it happened in New York City, but in a little town like Jamestown it was a very big deal indeed. The situation was made worse by privacy laws that hampered local officials from releasing the man’s name so that others could be warned of the lethal health danger he posed to the public.

To their credit, many of the clergymen and other attendees at the conference offered common sense solutions dealing with morals and family responsibility, with churches playing a larger voluntary role in educating the youth. Contrary to what some might expect, most of the people who attended the conference did not appear to be evildoers nor outwardly of the liberal persuasion, but rather seemed to be respectful of individual freedom and rights and the responsibilities that go with those freedoms and rights.

Most seemed genuinely concerned about doing something good. Little did they know, however, that they were likely participants in something that has already been decided — the long-term objectives and goals of the Turning Point Project. In my opinion, the whole conference was well choreographed to make it appear as though the participants were providing meaningful input that would influence the Turning Point Project. It is my strong suspicion, however, that the “participants” were simply being used to lend support and credibility to the RWJF initiative. One cannot help but make certain comparisons at this point between the way that Hillary’s Health Care Task Force was reportedly run and the way that the Turning Point Project is proceeding. In both cases, the input of the participants likely was and is illusory. In his book, The Seduction of Hillary Rodham, author David Brock makes the following observations about the operation of the Health Care Task Force:

Hundreds of advisers were brought in to create the appearance that contrasting views were being solicited and the best minds in America were being consulted. This was primarily intended to cloak the plan in the armor of intellectual respectability. The participating organizations were also given the illusion that they were actually being consulted, thereby neutralizing their potential opposition.

But it soon became clear even to those who were included that their participation was largely illusory. Just as she had done with education reform in Arkansas, Hillary made up the plan before the health advisers ever met.

The plan was cagily written to make everyone see what they wanted to see.(3)

One item handed out at the Turning Point Conference was a slick brochure entitled: “Be A Leader in Academic Achievement.”(4) After careful examination of the contents of this brochure, I con-cluded that it had little to do with academic achievement and everything to do with expanding the role of schools to include delivery of medical care to children. Being somewhat of an incurable and unrepentant lampoonist, I was quite naturally drawn to the “April” cartoons that appear throughout the brochure. On page one of the brochure, 5-year-old April is seen dreaming about becoming an astronaut when she grows up. The teacher, looking over April’s shoulder, smiles approvingly. On page 3, April is shown having the same dream, but now her aspiration is considered to be a “health problem” that will require the interventional health services of the school. By page 5, the April cartoon has turned ugly. The cartoon now shows what will happen to April if the school doesn’t provide her with the needed health services — April is shown associating with a bad crowd and turning to substance abuse. Page 6 of the brochure, however, shows us the “happy ending” that is achieved when the school provides the needed health care services to April, “Because her school pro-vided timely intervention, April had a better chance to realize her dream.” In other words, April went on to become what she had dreamed of becoming as a young girl, and likely would have become more easily had the school not labeled her aspirations as “abnormal” and constituting a “health problem.”

Although cagily written to make people see what they want to see, to the ever-vigilant reader of the Medical Sentinel of the AAPS, their agenda is crystal clear: the authors of the brochure want to provide comprehensive, government- controlled health care services (including mental health services) to all children via the public school system. The evidence for this conclusion is substantial.

At the top of pages 1 & 2 of the brochure the big, bold print reads: “Why Must Schools Be Involved

In Children’s Health?” And, at the top of pages 4 & 5, the message reads: “School Health Is Essential For Academic Achievement.” On page 5, the brochure makes reference to the infamous Goals 2000 Program as means of “improving education by improving health.” And, on page 4, they make it clear that they want to actually provide all of the health care for children in schools, “What is Comprehensive School Health?”...“Disease prevention is reinforced through access to health professionals.” Given the “April Cartoons,” I’m sure you can see where this is going — i.e., April, who happens to live in Jamestown, New York, never would have gotten AIDS had she been given the school-based medical services she needed. With proper school intervention, including annual physical and gynecological exams, blood testing, HIV testing, and an ample supply of condoms, in school colors of course, government...ahem, the school, could have prevented this entire AIDS crisis. Let’s see a show of hands. Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t want to prevent such a tragedy affecting children if they could?

And, how do they plan to pay for this unprecedented government intrusion into the private health matters of children, all without the consent of the parents? The answer is found in the fine print on page 6 of the brochure: “Title I funds or Medicaid reimbursements.” This would seem to be the same type of scheme that Representative Samuel Rohrer uncovered in his investigation of a similar RWJF initiative in his state of Pennsylvania.1 We note that the devastating results of the RWJF initiative in that state included the unforgivable government intrusion into the private lives of families via psychological profiling conducted on students in the schools and the atrocious East Stroudsburg incident where 50 sixth grade girls were stripped and given highly invasive gynecologic exams, without the consent or knowledge of the parents and against the wishes of many of the girls themselves.

The lesson: Individual rights don’t matter anymore when the government administers health care.

It is largely recognized, even by the implementers of such nefarious schemes, that the public isn’t going to easily buy into a heavy-handed, “top down,” government-controlled system like this. Therefore, they seek to explain the Project in terms that conceal the true goals and objectives. They attempt to convince others that this massive intrusion into the private lives of citizens, and this wholesale surrender of private freedoms for the “security” of government control is “good for them” whether the people think it is good for them or not.

On page 5 of the brochure, advocates of the scheme are given specific instructions on how to counteract opposition. “How will we convince others that schools should play a role in children’s health?” And, on page 7, “Why is there opposition to school health programs?”...and “What should you do when some parent’s convictions conflict with your program content?” Their answer to the latter question essentially is that what the individual wants isn’t important —the survival of the government program supersedes the interests of the individual citizens.

Quoting from the brochure,  “While removing one’s own children is okay, effectively removing other people’s children by causing the elimination of the program is not.” If the program is implemented, however, it is quite likely that the option of parents removing their own children from the program will become non-existent. And, in the ultimate display of bureaucratic arrogance, they explain the need for providing health care to all children via the public schools in terms that leave little doubt about their socialist underpinnings. Providing health care to young citizens in public schools isn’t really being proposed to help individual children. It is being done for the well-being of the community, so that they can produce healthy workers who will support others via oppressive taxation...ahem, contributions. On page 7 of the brochure, it states, “Senior citizens rely on younger generations to make contributions to their pension plans; higher rates of graduation mean lower rates of welfare dependency and more citizens contributing to Social Security and other pension funds” (plans that likely won’t be there by the time these young citizens reach retirement age).

Just as Representative Rohrer alluded to in his article,(1) the next predictable step will be for schools here in New York State to apply for “partial hospitalization” status so that they can access Medicaid/Title I funds. This is, in fact, precisely what this brochure encourages supporters to do.

On page 6, it states: “Check with local, state, and federal health agencies for ideas to bring available resources to your schools”...“Apply for state-level health grants to update or improve curricula and materials.”

With the recent passage of “KidCare,” we suspect that there will be no dearth of such grants available through state health agencies. The Turning Point Conference leaders were, of course, very careful not to allude to any of the concepts promoted in this brochure.

Since the Turning Point project’s long-term goals have not yet been officially released to the public, and since the brochure handed out at the conference advocates using public funds to implement their plan, I thought it might be prudent to write to my State Senator to alert him. I enclosed a copy of Dr. Jane Orient’s excellent presentation to the Pennsylvania State Legislature on The Private Influence Reform Law(5) (available from AAPS on request) as well as a copy of the Medical Sentinel article by Representative Samuel Rohrer. I would urge other AAPS members to keep a close watch for similar “unAmerican” activities in their area, and to report them to AAPS and to your representatives in government when such schemes are discovered. It should be evident to all that (paraphrasing Edmund Burke), the only thing necessary for such schemes to be implemented is for good men to do nothing, and as Medical Sentinels, we should accept our role and recognize that (paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson) the price of freedom truly is eternal vigilance.



1. Rohrer SE. The medicalization of the schools-KidCare through the school door. Medical Sentinel 1997;3(1):12-16.

2. Collaborative health initiative set for Wednesday. The P-J Weekender, Jamestown, New York, December 6, 1997.

3. Brock D. The Seduction of Hillary Rodham. Free Press, 1998, p. 342.

4. Be A Leader in Academic Achievement. National School Health Education Coalition in collaboration with the National School Boards Association, American Association of School Administrators, and American Cancer Society.

5. Orient JA. Statement on The Private Influence Reform Law (House Bill 975, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania), November 18, 1997.

Dr. Huntoon is a neurologist in Jamestown, New York, and a member of the Board of Directors of the AAPS. His address is 560 West Third Street, Jamestown, NY 14701.


Originally published in the Medical Sentinel 1998;3(3):96-98. Copyright © 1998 Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).





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