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The hospital gets a boost, just in time

Bowling Green is a typical college town. That means it’s a common spectacle to witness a wobbly legged convoy of students stretching from campus to the bars and back.

With so many people regularly sucker-punching their livers into submission, its no wonder the Wood County Hospital has announced plans to expand.

Wednesday, the Sentinel-Tribune reported that Wood County Hospital has plans to get a $35 million facelift. Part of the appeal is to be able to expand the emergency department in order to accommodate the growing number of people they admit each year.

The Sentinel-Tribune also reports that the number of patients the emergency department receives has doubled since 1996 to a total of 30,000 patients last year. For those without a calculator, that’s one patient every 17.52 minutes.

I would bet a shiny penny that college students with flammable blood-alcohol levels accounted for a portion of those patients. Especially because in March of 2007, USAToday.com reported that 40 percent of college students participate in binge drinking.

The problem with binge drinking, aside from future health issues, is that it makes the trek home treacherous.

CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov says 599,000 students are injured every year while under the influence of alcohol.

The Web site also reports that in 2002 there were 2.1 million college students that drove under the influence of alcohol. Makes me glad my car has an airbag.

So why do so many college students get injured while intoxicated?

Perhaps modern science can shed some light on the situation.

An article from MedicalNewsToday.com reported in May 2007 that a team of psychologists at the University of Missouri-Columbia were studying the effects of binge drinking on college students.

They tested 200 college students over a four-year period. Their conclusion was that binge drinking college students have impaired decision-making ability.

After 10,000 years of experience with alcohol, human beings finally are able to crack the code. Binge drinking leads to bad decisions … who knew?

Maybe that is why earlier this month police arrested an intoxicated woman for not only running up to a passing train but then trying to reach out and touch it. Conventional wisdom, also known as sobriety, says that may be a bad idea.

Trains are only one obstacle in the gauntlet that intoxicated students face on their way home. It can be tough to safely navigate between moving cars and over those crippling dips in the sidewalk. If you throw trying to avoid getting caught by the fuzz into the equation it’s a recipe for disaster.

If you don’t believe me, read the blotter. The most common phrases on Bowling Green Police blotters are “underage under the influence,” “operating a motor vehicle while under the influence” and “disorderly conduct.”

Let’s crunch some numbers.

The BGSU Office of Institutional Research recorded that 22,268 students had classes on the University’s main campus last fall.

If there are as many students on campus now as there were last year, this means that 8,907 students are getting their binge drink on. Just enough buzzed students to fill the Union’s Grand Ballroom to capacity eight times.

That’s 8,907 students with a darn good possibility of making some bad decisions.

In other words, that’s 8,907 students with a chance to meet the nice folks at the soon-to-be-expanded Wood County Hospital.

Making the decision to drink and drive is frowned upon because it is dangerous. Thus, students are encouraged to have a designated driver while inebriated.

It would appear that making decisions while intoxicated poses a few dangers as well. Maybe it is time to consider having designated decision makers, too.

Send comments about this column to [email protected].

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