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Monday, June 24, 2013: Party lines, immigration and patient-centered care

State, national dysfunction

Reading the June 20 BDN story, “Maine House deals final blow to Medicaid expansion . ” I r ealized how disheartening it is that several Republican legislators blocked the override of the governor’s veto of the expansion of Medicaid.

I hope those Republicans read and took to heart John Alexander’s clear-headed, accurate letter to the editor titled, “Obstructing the expansion,” which published on the same day and explained the obvious reasons why the bill should have been passed.

I am a former Republican, but I now despair of the rigid ideology that drives current Republican lawmakers. It is beyond sad to witness the dysfunction of our state and national government.

Nancy MacKnight


Identify BPA

As a mother, I was very upset to learn that many of the foods that children eat contain toxic Bisphenol A right in the container lining. BPA is a concerning chemical, not only because it has endocrine disrupting properties linked to cancers, obesity, and may lead to learning disabilities, but it can also pose real risks to women during pregnancy and prenatal development, according to information on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website.

I was encouraged by a vote that came out of the Environment and Natural Resources Committee in support of LD 1181, which would require the largest food manufacturers — those that make more than $1 billion in gross annual sales — to report their use of BPA by next year.

I hope that this is an easy decision for my senator, Brian Langley, R-Ellsworth, to make. This bill would not pertain to Maine businesses. However the biggest food companies like Campbell Soup Company, Del Monte and ConAgra would report their use of BPA, making sure that this important information is available for the vast majority of the canned foods products that Maine people eat.

I am asking Langley to support the majority report of LD 1181. Everyone has the right to know which foods contain BPA.

Florence Reed


Support immigration bill

Immigrant stories are stories of striving — stories of people striving for a livelihood, for education, for loved ones. They are stories of striving for safety, respect, for having a voice, a vote.

American history is made of immigration stories. They are rooted in the ideals of this nation. We celebrate the striving of immigrants in our nation’s past. We teach schoolchildren about the immigrants and refugees who came through Ellis Island and found unprecedented freedom and opportunity. But in the present, we demonize this striving and turn away from our own history.

The federal immigration bill is a chance to modernize our broken immigration system, to make it efficient and reflective of 21st Century needs. But really, it is a chance to return to our past and uphold the ideal that no matter who someone is, he or she has a right to freedom and opportunity.

The current immigration reform bill, with its roadmap for Americans-in-waiting to work toward citizenship, is an opportunity to make sure that all Americans — both immigrant and citizens — cannot only strive for but live this ideal.

Maine needs Sens. Angus King, I-Maine, and Susan Collins, R-Maine, to make this happen, to show their leadership and commitment to the American people by voting for immigration reform and ensuring it contains the roadmap to citizenship.

Wanda Willey Halpin


Fence not necessary

The Bangor City Council is allowing Seasons Restaurant to build a fence in front of the restaurant, blocking off most of the sidewalk, in spite of the very large lot they have out back of the property where the owners could put the outside seating.

This is a busy road for cars and pedestrians alike, and I feel it is a public safety issue. How many people during the American Folk Festival, the Bangor State Fair and the Waterfront concerts will be forced into the road due to this fence? Too many.

We have already had pedestrian deaths in that area. We should not be blocking public sidewalks here.

John McGinn



At 86-years-old, I have played on many golf courses — some short and some long, some good and some not so good. But I have never played on a golf course that I enjoy more than the fairly new 18-hole golf course in Orrington, named Rocky Knoll Country Club.

Never have I played on a course where everyone is so friendly, and it all starts with the owners, Barbara and Tom Bryant. I am sure that all who play there have nothing but high praise for these two and all the staff and volunteers who work there.

Eugene Bowden


What is a PFAC?

In Maine, patient-centered medical homes have been part of Maine’s health care reform during the past several years. “Patient-centered” is the key phrase in a new title for around 100 primary care practices in our state.

Central in the work of these homes are patient and family advisory councils. There have been varying levels of success and accomplishments by these groups, but recruitment and convening of them is ongoing.

I see nothing but success in their future. Unless actual patients and families are involved in patient-centered care, there is no such thing. Unfortunately, most Maine hospitals do not have advisory councils, or they do not have enough of them.

At a recent training at the Institute of Patient and Family-Centered Care, I learned about these groups. In facilities where they are established and ongoing, they have helped to reduce health care harm and readmission; eliminated or altered “visiting” hours; improved or planned physical layout of facilities; helped interview new physicians; and improved communications between patients and providers.

Patients and family members who participate in the councils are passionate about patient-centered care, and they generally offer their time and wisdom voluntarily.

The brilliant but simple concept of asking “what would the patients say or want?” is part of the hospital culture where they have embraced these groups.

When patients, families and hospitals staff sit down together to work on improvements, great things happen. Please start asking for patient councils in our Maine hospitals.

Kathy Day, RN


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