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Friday, July 19, 2019: Maine lobster gear a threat to whales, money over patient care, my case of legionnaires’ disease

Maine Lobster gear a threat to whales

Governor Mills has told the Department of Marine Resources to come up with an alternative to a federal plan to protect right whales from entanglements in lobster fishing gear, claiming a lack of evidence connecting the lobster industry to recent right whale deaths.

While there may be a lack of evidence regarding the devastating loss of the six right whales found dead last month, the fact of the matter remains that right whales have been entangled in Maine lobster gear. This is documented.

What we don’t know is the number of entanglements in lobster gear that may have occurred that remain undocumented. Some whales may have managed to free themselves of the gear, or died as a result of their entanglement and were not reported or simply never found.

While lobster gear is by no means the only threat to the survival of the right whale, it is one of them. If this critically endangered species is to survive into the future, then every effort must be made to reduce all of these threats.

Maine must fully and energetically cooperate in this effort, and should demand that the feds fund a large part of any necessary gear changes and removal.

Russell Wray
Citizens Opposing Active Sonar Threats (COAST)
Hancock

Money over patient care

I am responding to Cathleen London’s OpEd piece entitled, “We need to get greed out of US health care” As a general surgeon who practised in Plymouth, Massachusetts, from 1972 to 2004, I can support her statements. She is right on. Perhaps I could tell her of a moment in my career which I shall never forget. As councilor for the Massachusetts Medical Society from Plymouth, I attended a meeting in the Park Plaza Hotel on July 8, 1981. The meeting lasted from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. There was no air conditioning and the temperature was in the 90s. The doctors were smoking and the room was filled with smoke. The issue being discussed was the lock in-lock out agreement with a health insurance company that had a monopoly on the market, and basically said to physicians, “Either you accept what we will pay or you cannot join us.” This, of course, meant that physicians would not be paid.

The Massachusetts Medical Society spent several million dollars on legal fees. Initially they won in the courts but several days later, the legislature blocked the suit. And later the initial judge’s decision was overturned. So the result of all this has led to the situation that we have today which Cathleen London speaks about. Those of us practising in the trenches have lost power to to take care of our patients the way we want to. We face administrators of for profit private insurers and mega hospitals who have been given the power. Imagine the frustration of those of us who are trying to help our patient and are told what we should do by administrators who are more interested in money than patient care.

William Babson Jr.
Sinclair

 

My case of legionnaires disease

The BDN reported last week that six cases of legionnaires’ disease have been reported in the Bangor area since last November. I was one of those cases.

Hospitalized in January, I had severe pneumonia, sepsis, rhabdomyolysis, and a temperature of 104 for days. Sadly, one person died. I almost died. In talking with Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), I have not been able to identify the cause.

Providers are advised by CDC to be on the alert and test for the illness. But don’t assume that they will. After presenting with the fever and severe cough, I left a walk-in with a script for Tamiflu. No chest x-ray, blood work, or urine test was done (the latter is used for identification).

For two consecutive days after that, I tried to get an acute care appointment with my primary care but was denied. When the rhabdomyolysis became frighteningly apparent on the fourth day, I went to the ER and was fortunately diagnosed, averting organ failure (so I was told).

This is a fairly rare but serious illness. If you have symptoms, it might be worth checking it out. But don’t assume that your health care provider will take the lead.

John Yasenchak
Bangor

 



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