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Thursday, April 25, 2013: Patient safety, speed and recycling


Protect patient safety

I am not a confrontational person. So the first time I was accosted by a protester standing outside the Portland Planned Parenthood, I felt jarred and shaken. It was an unnerving start to my routine medical checkup.

When I left the clinic, the protester was still there, and my street survival instincts kicked in: Head down, shoulders hunched, quickened pace.

The news focuses a lot on the rising costs of health care, but Mainers like me who rely on Planned Parenthood face an additional cost — the threat of harassment and intimidation at every appointment. Planned Parenthood has resorted to providing patients with flexible poster board in order to shield our faces from protesters who film us entering and exiting the clinic.

I should not have to cover my face while visiting my primary care provider. The Portland City Council has the power to protect patients, but they have been reluctant to take action. Lawmakers in other New England states have passed ordinances to protect patient safety while honoring First Amendment rights.

The reluctant officials should be the ones hiding their faces in shame, not Maine citizens on their way to a doctor’s appointment.

Amy Gaidis



Speed kills

Road anarchy must end. On April 19, I sent a letter to the Maine Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, asking members to take action to provide Maine drivers with a safer and more pleasurable driving experience.

Speeding is ubiquitous. Running red lights, tailgating, unnecessary passing in breakdown lanes often near pedestrian crossings, failing to utilize headlights, adjusting speed for varying conditions and ignoring or refusing to obey posted speed limits are all rampant infractions.

Drivers could take the responsibility to obey the rules of the road and avoid greater government or law enforcement intervention. It’s not too late, but it’s got to be one or the other.

Barring those alternatives, throw the book away, and let anarchy reign. At least we’d know the score.

There are places where it is almost agony to drive the speed limit, but if people are driving, they need to obey the law. Vehicles weigh several tons.They are not bicycles or motorcycles. If drivers are unhappy with posted speed limits, then take action to get the speed limits changed.

I have proposed methods to enforce the laws that would be cost-effective, including using public service announcements. Meanwhile, I want a bumper sticker stating: “I’m doing the speed limit. If you don’t like the limit, contact the Legislature.”

Margaret Trout


Health, economic coverage

I fully agree with the BDN editorial board’s assessment that accepting federal funding to increase access to insurance through MaineCare makes both financial and ethical sense. My experience as a physician has taught me that giving people access to the care they need saves both lives and dollars.

The people who will benefit from accepting these funds, which have already been set aside for our state, are our neighbors, co-workers, friends and family.

Recently, the Maine Center for Economic Policy and the Maine Equal Justice Partners published a report examining the economic benefits of accepting federal funds. The report found that those who stand to gain the most coverage work in fields like hospitality, construction, manufacturing, education, social service, administration and agriculture, among others.

By offering these working individuals coverage, we will not only strengthen their health but also the productivity of the businesses they work for and Maine’s economy.

Accepting federal funds has quickly become a bipartisan, common sense issue across the country, and Maine is no different. A bipartisan group of Maine legislators have introduced LD 1066, a bill to use the federal funds set aside for Maine under the Affordable Care Act.

Everyone who supports this valuable opportunity to improve our state’s health and wellbeing should contact their legislators and ask them to support LD 1066 as well.

Kenneth Christian, MD



Jobs and prosperity for ME

Here is some good news on the job front: Maine has an opportunity to join other states in their economic renaissance.

Instead of forcing hard-working Mainers to join and pay dues to unions, we must pass right-to-work legislation, which will entice more employers to the state, thereby increasing wages and providing the faster job growth that other right-to-work states have been experiencing for years. This will also help them climb out of this recession faster than forced-unionism states.

This won’t eliminate unions, but it will mean they will have to demonstrate value to potential members. I urge passage of this legislation to help bring jobs and prosperity to Maine.

Susan Dench, The Informed Women’s Network president



Shipping dilemmas, solutions

The Downeast Community Hospital in Machias actively supports the recycling of a variety of materials in an effort to reduce landfill space. Yet as a manager of that program at DECH, I recognize a basic shortcoming in the program.

Plastic foam is a wonderful material for packaging, ensuring that fragile and unstable products are not damaged in shipping. However, it is a difficult substance to recycle, as in its many forms it cannot be reconstituted. So, it is sent to landfills indiscriminately, and because it is light but bulky, it is certain to contribute to landfill space disproportionately.

Whether it is in the form of “peanuts” or a wide variety of shapes and sizes used in packaging, there must be some way to recycle this toxic substance. Not only does it not decompose, but it could pose ecological and possibly health problems for hundreds, if not thousands, of years to come.

If recycling programs cannot find a way to reuse it, a replacement for this unwelcome solution in shipping needs to be found.

Steve Colhoun



Drug debt

I was startled by the April 22 headline, “Jackson man gets 16 years for killing Florida man over drug debt.” This was a drug debt gone wrong.

The two men involved negated any claim to heroism or goodness they had previously earned,

when they decided that dealing drugs was a good way to make a living. I am sorry for both families.

Their lives have been shattered by this manslaughter, but let’s not romanticize what these two drug dealers did to each other. They sold poison to our loved ones, and they both paid a heavy price.

Constance A. Poulin


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