Dec. 21 Letters to the Editor

Posted Dec. 20, 2010, at 6:39 p.m.

The gift of care

As we enter the holiday season, and anticipate the peace and joy we feel when we celebrate Christmas Day, our nurses still grapple with inadequate staffing. The most unfortunate and most vulnerable among us struggle with health problems that have landed them in the hospital during the holidays. Illness, injuries and nursing do not take holidays. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they could, just once a year?

The Maine State Nurses Association’s nurses still work without a new contract and with no assurances that EMMC will stand by its own staffing policy. The very expensive lockout and strike is over, and things have died down, but nothing has changed. EMMC still refuses to acknowledge that nurses work short-staffed, on a regular basis, and are working extra time and overtime, and that these are patient-safety issues.

The best gift I could receive this year is assurance from EMMC that it will have adequate staff for me or my loved ones if we need hospitalization. Patient safety must be the top priority.

Adequate staffing is the place to start. Without enough bedside RNs, every precaution and preventive policy in the world will not matter; it is the nurses who carry them out. If there isn’t time in their day because of short-staffing, medical errors and hospital-acquired infections will happen.

As a patient safety activist volunteer, I have heard hundreds of horror stories of victims of inadequate or downright awful health care. Let’s not allow patient safety lapses to become regular in our treasured community hospital, EMMC.

Kathy Day, RN

Bangor

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Cougar seen, owl heard

I enjoyed Kathy Pollard’s article in the weekend BDN about her encounter with a cougar in 1984 (“‘Ghost cat’ lives in vivid memories”). I have no doubt that she really saw one. I also have no doubt that there’s some reason the powers that be keep denying the facts.

But what really caught my eye was what she heard by the base of Levenseller Mountain in Searsmont — especially the phrase “blood-curdling, woman-like screaming…”

I’ll bet that was not a cougar, but the seldom-heard scream of a great horned owl. When I first heard that sound many years ago, I thought a woman was being murdered. And as my bird book said, even when you know what it is, it’s terrifying.

Maynard Clemons

Belfast

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Words of wisdom

I want to thank Dr. Erik Steele for his Nov. 30 column, “Caring for early childhood is critical.” As Dr. Steele points out, early brain development is what “makes us who we are.”

I am not an expert in brain development, but it doesn’t take an advanced degree to understand that if 80 percent of brain development occurs in the first five years of life, adverse experiences during these years (stress, poor nutrition, abuse, etc.) can result in lifelong dysfunction.

What goes on in the early years of a child’s life affects us all, for better or worse. Investing in early childhood support will make our communities better, healthier and more vibrant places to live. Neglecting the realities of early childhood development will contribute to upward spiraling of costs for remedial services, health care and correctional facilities. We have to break that spiral by speaking up and reaching out in support of young children and their parents. This is both a moral and an economic necessity. As the old saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

“The child’s brain is plastic waiting to be molded by parents and communities.” Thank you, Dr. Steele, for these words and your leadership.

Gil Tenney

Castine

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Fusion backs civic center

There has been ongoing, spirited discussion in the Bangor community regarding the proposed construction of a new arena and convention center.

Fusion Bangor’s steering committee and 87 percent of members responding to a poll support the effort to build the arena and convention center.

Fusion Bangor is an organization composed of young people in the Bangor area who agree that Bangor is a great place to live and work, and support efforts to improve its vitality and appeal.

Our network of young people has confidence in Bangor as an economic development center and believes that this capital investment in the new arena and convention center will have a powerful, positive effect on both those already calling Bangor home and those we want to attract to this city.

The new arena and convention center is an essential part of Bangor’s future. This project is an opportunity for growth. Speaking as the generation that will be here to support the new arena for years to come, we see it as an opportunity that cannot be passed over.

We are proud of this community, and we believe it deserves a first-class facility in which to gather, celebrate, do business and showcase our region’s economic vitality. Let’s show the rest of the state and the region that we believe in ourselves and in the future of the Bangor community.

Julie Dawson Williams

Bangor

Scott S. Blake

Bangor

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The biggest thanks

Several weeks have passed since Nov. 2, the day that I lost my election for the District 32 seat for the Maine House of Representatives. Given all that has happened since, I haven’t had a moment to say a proper thank you to so many who supported me during my campaign. Eighty volunteers made phone calls and did Standing for Cassidy on street corners; 130-plus families had Cassidy signs in their yards; 1,409 voted for me.

My biggest thank you goes to my husband, Frank Cassidy. He kept our household running during both 2008 and 2010, during my two efforts to win public office. After all he has done for me as I pursued my dreams as a candidate, it’s now my turn to support him.

On Nov. 16, we learned there was a bigger reason why I lost on Nov. 2 — a CT scan revealed a tumor on Frank’s pancreas. By Dec. 2, we had spent three nights at Maine Medical Center in Portland, where doctors confirmed that Frank has pancreatic cancer. We will start his radiation and chemotherapy treatment the week after Christmas.

We are fortunate to be in the medical hands of the Veterans Administration. We are fortunate that we live in a community that cares so much for its own, particularly when families encounter unexpected bumps and hardships. We are beyond grateful. And, we are especially aware of the tremendous networks of support for those in need in Washington County, particularly in this season of giving.

Thank you, all.

Katherine Cassidy

Machias

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