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Health care should go beyond the prolonging of life

At the end, help for my mother | Jan. 4, commentary by Ellen D. Feld

Look beyond prolonging life

Thank you so much for publishing this article. It was very moving, and it brings up the important subject of how we will allocate health care for our aging population.

Our health care system is based on fee for service. When physicians do a test or a procedure, they get paid. There are constant improvements in care, which can prolong life, for which we should all be grateful. But what is often overlooked is the quality of the life being prolonged.

As we get older, the paradigm remains: "Go to the hospital, get more tests, there may be something that will buy you more time." I believe Dr. Ellen Feld's column points out that there may be a time when that choice is not in the best interest of the patient.

In 45 years as a nurse, I have never heard anyone say, "I want to live long enough so that I can go to a nursing home, and have all my personal care taken over by paid caregivers." And yet, people make choices that result in that end all the time, because there is usually no meaningful dialogue between the physician who orders the care, and the patient and family who will live with the results.

Everyone should read How We Die by Sherwin B. Nuland. Death is the natural end of our lives, not something to be avoided at all cost. There are things worse than death, in my opinion, and existing in an ICU is one of them. I urge everyone to get a copy of "Five Wishes" from Aging With Dignity and fill it out. Make sure your family and your physician know your wishes.

A nurse from England has told me that there is an accepted palliative care track for people with poor quality of life. I believe our health care system would be more humane if there was more education about, and acceptance of, palliative care as a realistic choice for those who feel they wish to concentrate on quality, rather than length of life.

Sheila Seckinger, R.N., Homosassa

What ails our health care | Jan. 3, George Will column

Other nations outstrip U.S. in health care

George Will waffles on and on with the standard conservative line about health care — aging population, patients' responsibility, and caveats concerning government intervention.

Over 70 industrialized countries operate some form of state-administered, tax-supported universal health services, and without exception they provide superior care at a fraction of the cost of our health-for-wealth nonsystem. It has been estimated that 40 cents of every health dollar goes to some kind of overhead. Billing, insurance claims, and litigation add more complexity to the mess.

Globally, America ranks an embarrassing 37th in overall quality of care, but much lower in access to affordable treatment.

The marketplace, as demonstrated by the financial and auto industries recently, cannot be trusted to operate in the best interests of the consumer.

Nick Hobart, New Port Richey

Studies debunk vitamins' worth | Dec. 22

Old advice holds up

More than 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates stated: "Let thy medicine be thy food and thy food be thy medicine." Today's research tells us that "some physicians now advise their patients not to bother with taking the pills (vitamins) and to rely instead on a healthy diet."

How can we account for this tremendous progress we have in our search for health? Health advisors have been telling us for many years that proper food is your way to good health. Now, research has proven it — so now, let your food be your medicine.

Nicholas Lourake, St. Pete Beach

War on slavery still not finished | Jan. 6, Nicholas Kristof column

Human trafficking is here

I work in child abuse prevention, and it is important to look more deeply at one aspect of this column. Almost every "voluntarily" employed prostitute, female or male, in the world, experienced some form of forced, coerced or involuntary sexual contact as a child. Sexual assault and molestation of children are necessary elements in creating and perpetuating the worldwide sex industry.

It is important for our society to recognize that when a child is sexually traumatized, the experience itself teaches them that they don't have choices. The damage to their boundaries teaches them that their body is not their own.

There is human trafficking right here in our own community. In fact, less than a month from today, there will be a surge in trafficking of children for sexual purposes in the Tampa Bay area.

Want to know why? The Super Bowl.

Every major sporting event in our country brings up to a 10-fold increase in prostitution — those "voluntary adults," and minors as well. The demand for sexual services increases around these events, and the providers — the pimps, the trafficking rings, the clubs — respond by bringing in their "product." These children are not all foreign-born, not all non-English speaking, not all illegal aliens. Most are natural-born American citizens — runaway and throwaway girls and boys, moving toward and through adulthood, while losing their health, choices and dignity by the day.

My agency, Help A Child Inc., handles more than 300 cases a year of child sexual abuse — that is in Pinellas County alone. Everyone one of these children is at risk to become part of the sex industry.

We don't just need sanctions on other nations that "wink at sex slavery." We need to put our foot down, and stop it now — right here in our own backyard. For more information, go to www.stop

Juliana Menke, M.S., St. Petersburg

Neighborhood fears diocese's homeless plan Jan. 4, story

Wise to be wary

I must applaud Joanne O'Brien for sounding the alarm to her East Lake Park subdivision neighbors. She is right on target with her fears regarding the influx of these homeless people living in the tents.

Even our own government is ready to use taxpayers' money in this "boondoggle" to build, maintain, even provide an off-duty deputy, constant counselors, maintenance personnel, and on and on. Never is there a concern for property values, resale values, neighbors' anxiety and an overall deterioration of that corner of Hillsborough County.

Rather than a tent city, I suggest that Catholic Charities, along with the government, transfer these homeless people to states such as Michigan, Ohio, etc. Homes could be bought dirt-cheap and rehabbed by the homeless or the unemployed. Cities such as Detroit, Lansing, Toledo, Dayton and Cincinnati already have Catholic Charities and welfare offices with an eager staff. Yearly bus tickets (mass transit is there) could be given for the homeless to use to and from the appropriate offices. Money would be saved; the homeless would be happy.

John R. Plummer, Dunedin

Neighborhood fears diocese's homeless plan Jan. 4, story

Think of Jesus

I feel sorry for Joanne O'Brien, Hal Hart and other East Lake Park residents who have no compassion or love for homeless people. I could feel the anger and hate in the words O'Brien was quoted as using.

I suggest that she and all the other people who are fearful, uncompassionate and show hatred toward the homeless read Matthew 25:40: "… I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

When you do nice things for the homeless, you are directly doing nice things for Jesus. Jesus will be the judge of everyone on being accepted into the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus will probably not be inclined to let people into his kingdom who will not allow the homeless to live near East Lake Park.

Mark Drebin, Tampa

Health care should go beyond the prolonging of life 01/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 9:47am]
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