Thursday, June 19, 2014: Patient responsibility, VA scandal, higher speeds, bear referendum

Posted June 18, 2014, at 1:26 p.m.
Last modified June 18, 2014, at 1:46 p.m.

Wonderful VA facility

Lately I have been hearing a lot of bad things about the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. I suspect that some serious problems in a few hospitals are being used to make the entire VA, its leadership and this administration look bad.

As a disabled veteran receiving medical care at Togus, I would like to say that I am totally satisfied with the treatment I have gotten. I have never had to wait more than 15 minutes in a waiting room, including the emergency room. The practitioners have always been competent, attentive and polite. I always leave there thinking how fortunate we disabled veterans are to have such a wonderful facility in this area.

Dan Avener

Belfast

 

Patient care

This is in response to the June 12 BDN story, “ EMHS boss says patients need to be ‘partner in their own care’ to lower costs.”

It is important not to blame the victim, namely the patient, in discussions about health care costs and access. In today’s health care, fighting disease conditions have often turned into crusades that inadvertently leave patient dignity and patient empowerment as collateral damage.

It is misleading and derogatory to imply that patients have somehow given up on making health care decisions for themselves. If a semblance of this has actually happened, it is because the last few years have seen a systemic decline in accountability to the patient, and instead accountability has shifted to payers and employers. The patient is just expected to be complicit.

Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems President and CEO Michelle Hood emphasized the metrics, and those are indeed important; but it is far more important to remember that each unit of these metrics represents a unique story. Furthermore, in the push to provide efficiencies in time and cost savings over the past few decades, providers have gradually shifted their focus away from educating patients, and in the process they inadvertently discouraged patients’ participation in their own care.

That is why having a headline that patients “need to” hop on the bus of their own care, through wellness and education, is not appropriate. Maybe the real answer would to vacate the driver’s seat and concentrate on teaching and empowering patients to drive.

Alexander Dragatsi

Waterville

 

Speed kills

The state Legislature, in a dereliction of its duty, handed off its responsibility to enact speed limit laws to a state agency, the Department of Transportation. The DOT then significantly raised speed limits on Interstate highways, basing its decision on the speed at which violators are now driving but apparently without considering the impact on all law-abiding citizens.

For example, gasoline and diesel engines require more fuel to maintain higher speeds, causing more air pollution for all of us. The state population is saturated with clueless distracted drivers talking on cellphones and texting. These drivers do not maintain their speed nor stay in their lane, thus creating a hazard to all other drivers. Older drivers with years of driving experience often have vision, hearing and response-time changes that induce them to drive more carefully and at lower speeds.

Speed kills as reaction time diminishes with higher speed. Now, with higher speed limits, an even greater disparity in speeds between slower and much faster traffic will increase the danger of violent crashes significantly.

Speeders commonly ignore the old speed limit by five or 10 miles per hour. That won’t change. So most drivers may now be going 80 miles per hour on the Interstate. Will the DOT then raise the speed limit to 80?

Why not just enforce the Interstate highway speed limit with speed cameras rather than make the road more dangerous for everyone with higher speeds?

Jim Chiddix

Waterville

 

Masters of the woods

Mainers must fully understand the ramifications should this bear-baiting referendum in November pass. Forget the petty back-and-forth bickering for a moment.

Forget that the real agenda of the Humane Society of the United States is to ban all hunting in America. Forget it is a non-profit organization tucking millions away to the Cayman Islands. Forget that of its $170-million annual budget raised by good-hearted Americans, believing their donation is going to save dogs and cats, only 1 percen t actually goes to shelters and save animals.

What people need to think about are the bears! If you’re truly an animal rights advocate, don’t let this pass and create a huge overpopulation of our bears. Passage will doom bears to a miserable existence. Our state’s team of “best in the country” biologists needs the management tools to stay as-is to keep the population at a level that the habitat can sustain.

An overpopulation of any species is a bad thing. Mother Nature’s way of dealing with it is incredibly crueler than hunting.

A yes vote means you’re for starvation, disease, major increase in road kills, chaos and danger in neighborhoods, tax hikes to handle nuisance bears, millions of dollars of state revenue lost, and the loss of thousands of Maine jobs. Why would anyone vote for such a thing?

Don’t turn the masters of the woods into the beggars of the streets. Please vote no, to save the bears.

Matt Whitegiver

Otis

 

Michaud and the VA

Now comes the June 14 BDN editorial apparently apologizing for U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud’s lack of performance with regard to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs malfeasance scandal. The BDN states his lack of performance on the House Veterans Affairs Committee “inflates his role.” Really? He was — and still is — the ranking Democrat on the committee.

We’re supposed to believe he didn’t know anything about the numerous failures at the VA? What was he doing for us during the years he spent in Washington? We haven’t heard a peep from him why he didn’t at least try to tackle the VA problems. Just think, if he didn’t know anything about the nationwide VA problems when he was ranking member on the House committee in charge of the VA, how can he possibly run the state of Maine as governor?

Richard de Grasse

Islesboro

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