All Children's, all safe | Jan. 10, story
Planning and teamwork made move a success
Last weekend's successful, safe move of 169 seriously ill children to the new All Children's Hospital was a testament to teamwork. Years of planning, design and construction went into creating this state-of-the-art facility for pediatric specialty care. No less effort went into preparations for the move of our patients from our 42-year-old home to the new All Children's Hospital a mere two blocks away.
For more than a year, our doctors, nurses and health care professionals discussed, drilled and mapped out a move that carefully addressed the needs of their often-fragile patients. Before dawn on what would be one of the coldest days of 2010, a parade of cribs, wheelchairs, hospital beds, medical equipment, parents and care teams began the 15-minute trek. Thanks to the cooperative effort and support of Bayfront Medical Center, no youngsters were exposed to the day's damp chill.
The move route — through a tunnel joining the old All Children's to Bayfront and two enclosed elevated walkways leading to the new hospital — protected everyone from the elements.
Along the way, volunteers from local fire and police departments lent the muscle to move patients' equipment. All Children's emergency physicians, medical and surgical specialists, and nurses stood ready to respond to any patient need. Fortunately, every one of the 169 youngsters was safely moved by noon. Smiles on the faces of children and parents settling into new, more family-friendly patient rooms were truly the reward for all our efforts.
Thank you to the nearly 800 hospital staff that worked or volunteered their time on this historic day. Thanks, too, to the many community volunteers who participated and to all those who had a hand in the construction of our incredible new home.
Finally, a special thanks to the generous donors whose gifts — both large and small — made this $403-million project possible. With your support, the new All Children's Hospital will be here for the region's children for many years to come.
Gary Carnes, president and CEO, All Children's Health System, St. Petersburg
Why we need health care reform
I am fortunate. I am a nurse working at a local hospital. I have a great job with excellent benefits. My husband is retired and collecting Social Security. He is also a health care professional and works part time. We are both relatively healthy and have insurance coverage through my employer.
Now let me tell you about my friend Sally, who was an employee at the same hospital for more than 30 years. She worked very hard for minimal wage her entire life. While employed, she had the same excellent benefits as the other employees. She now lives on Social Security and a small pension. Supplemental insurance is unaffordable for her.
Now here is the dilemma. My friend is African-American and has developed kidney disease, which is rampant in the African-American community. She has been fighting for several years but has been on dialysis for 10 months.
Now the kicker: She was told by her social worker that she can't be put on the transplant list until she can prove she can pay more than $500 per month for medications that would be required after transplantation. It seems she makes too much money for assistance!
So this wonderful woman, who has worked for a meager income her entire life, will have to remain on dialysis despite having relatives who will donate for her.
There is something terribly wrong with a health care system that will allow this travesty. I don't know what the answer is, but surely we can do better then this.
Gail Rubinsky, St. Petersburg
A matter of class
Health care has brought out the real issue: class warfare, the haves against the have-nots.
If you are one of the haves, your daughter gets her breast augmentation, her nose job, her tummy tuck, etc. If you are one of the have-nots, you must self-ration her asthma medication against all the other must-pay bills like rent, food, gas for the car so you can go to work, where you do not have health care because the business you work for cannot afford it.
We have always known the rich go first class and the poor go without. That is the way it has always been. But when we are talking about life or death medical care it should not be only for those who can afford it. It must be a right of all Americans.
Up until now the largest cause for filling bankruptcy in America has been medical bills, which are so high a person working for the average wage can not afford to pay them.
We need to fight the haves on this issue, the way all other civilized nations around the world have done. If we have enough money to go to war without paying for it, then we must have enough money to provide health care for all our citizens. No more war on the back of the poor folks' sons and daughters. No more tax cuts for the rich so their children go off to college and the poor kids go off to war.
Gerald A. Cerveny Sr., Tampa
It's all about the money | Jan. 8, letter
A lot has changed
To the letter writer: Yes, the Hippocratic Oath has changed over the last 20 years, and especially over the last 2,500 years since it was written. Hippocrates didn't have to deal with the government, insurance companies, formularies, and third party reviewers, making it nearly impossible for him to practice medicine.
The letter writer may not appreciate the fact that going to medical school can cost upward of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Technology to save lives is expensive. Doctors have to pay employees to perform medical tasks, as well as paperwork demanded by the government and insurance companies. Doctors have been mandated to have electronic medical records in a few years at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars. Every year Congress threatens to cut Medicare reimbursement by more than 20 percent.
Yes, there is a shortage of primary care physicians because of reimbursement for that specialty. Doctors should still be looked up to, for what we charge has no bearing on the care we continue to bestow upon our patients, and what we charge often has no bearing on what we're paid.
David Lubin, Tampa
Obstruction is GOP way | Jan. 10, letter
Shut out of the process
Despite what the letter writer says, the Republicans offered in excess of 700 amendments to the Senate bill with about 161 accepted (most of which were technical in nature).
Proposed amendments rejected included such controversial issues as "No Discrimination for Refusing to Do Abortions (conscience protection)" and "To apply the same solvency and licensure requirements to the government plan as the private plans."
Nearly everyone recognizes that our health care system needs an overhaul, but Republicans (and interested citizens) have been effectively shut out of the process to improve what we have.
Stephen Small, Indian Rocks Beach
Was Harry Reid right? | Jan. 12, commentary
I was surprised by Omar Wasow's article. That he openly brought up the confusion regarding what is appropriate or allowed to be voiced in public, was astounding!
It made me really think about how to refer to someone of another race. During most of my life you were either, Caucasian, black, Oriental or native American.
During my father's time the only change was that black took the place of Negro. In the last few years it has changed to African-American. Is it now considered politically correct to say African-American, Irish-American, Japanese-American or any of the other countries, even though people were not born in, lived in or were not citizens of these countries?
It would help very much if this could be addressed and explained to the public.
Regarding the other part of the article, in my opinion, I would not vote for a candidate who didn't speak proper English as the majority of Americans were taught in our public school system. As far as the tint of a person's skin, it would be foolish to let that determine whom you would vote for.
Mary Chandler, St. Petersburg
Leavitt out, report finds he hit player Jan. 9
Just doing his job
University of South Florida football coach Jim Leavitt got a raw deal. The namby-pamby, overprotective people in charge (including parents) need to face the real world.
All of us were not born angels. Coach Leavitt was doing his job the way he thought best, and his outstanding record during his successful tenure at USF proves his methods worked well.
If you want to program someone to do their job, get a robot.
Joseph Welch, St. Petersburg
Here we have another front-page story about a football coach in just the last few weeks. First we had the melodrama about Bobby Bowden being let go. Then we had the soap opera details of Urban Meyer's decision to resign. And now we have the firing of Leavitt.
While Floridians spend their time reading and worrying about the coaches of the gladiators, the state has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and the intelligence level of our students is dropping.
Is it any wonder that China and India are taking over the world? While our attentions are on playing sports, they are teaching their children how to think and develop. Soon our children will be in China building their railroads and in India manning their 7-Elevens. While we pay our teachers thousands and our coaches millions, they do the opposite. When will Floridians and Americans realize we are losing our supremacy in the world? Already China buys more cars and graduates many more engineers than the United States.
Roger Gambert, Palm Harbor
Oh, no — not another mailing from Scientology bashing the St. Petersburg Times! This time, instead of an expensive glossy magazine in my mailbox, I received a newspaper titled Freedom. The content of Freedom was somewhat the same in its attempt to neutralize the factual negative reporting the Times did on Scientology.
In my opinion, this organization does more damage than good with its practices. To think they were able to mail both these pieces as a nonprofit! I am sending a letter asking them not to send any more mail to me.
Marjorie M. Browne, St. Petersburg
Prayers at Tampa City Council meetings
Not an appropriate place
Suppose the Tampa City Council invited a visiting televangelist to offer its customary prayer, and the self-styled holy man said something like, "Shape up, Tampa, and get right with Jesus. God punished Haiti for making a pact with the devil, and you might be next." How do you think that would go over?
Council members can pray all they like — nobody cares — but not as part of a public function. It's inappropriate and probably a violation of the Constitution's establishment clause. Furthermore, as Pat Robertson recently demonstrated and as Christopher Hitchens has observed, "Religion poisons everything."
Robert Green Ingersoll got it right in 1890: "All prayers die in the air which they uselessly agitate" … "the hands that help are far better than the lips that pray."
Donald B. Ardell, St. Petersburg
Contrary to public opinion, this is not a Christian country. This is a secular country by constitutional law. It doesn't matter how many citizens are Christians, we are still a secular nation. There is no "God-given right" or "constitutional right" to invoke the name of your personal deity in a government meeting.
We do not vote for our government officials based on their personal religion. We elect them to carry out the existing laws, which include a secular government.
Officials who feel a strong need for prayer should stop by their house of worship prior to any city meetings. The invocation of any personal deity in a public meeting is proselytizing, and many people are greatly offended by it. If you feel a strong need to practice your religion on a daily basis, do it by being nice to your fellow citizens.
Gloria R. Julius, St. Petersburg
Reform school flunks review | Dec. 30, story
A total failure
Close down Dozier School for Boys, now, before any more damage can be done to the kids incarcerated there! Appointing yet another "leader" is not going to change or improve Dozier's history of neglect and abuse of those entrusted to its care.
Perhaps we also ought to shut down the farce called Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, which ultimately is responsible for the horrors at Dozier. How could so many boys die in one facility while under the care of this department?
One former Dozier prisoner is quoted saying the place made him a better criminal, and not much else. Is this why it's called a "school"? Our sometimes governor calls Dozier's failures "inexcusable," noting that "something needs to be done." So do "something," Charlie.
Robert Ames, New Port Richey
It's not the little old ladies we should fear Jan. 7, Susan Estrich column
Thank you, Susan Estrich, for being the voice of reason (again). Now how can we get the folks at Homeland Security and the TSA to read this?
Nancy Karnavicius, St. Petersburg
Utilities feel the heat in the cold | Jan. 7, story
Look to the wind
The utility companies seem to ignore the fact that when temperatures drop and demand for power soars, an energy source is in great abundance. From the beginning of October to the end of March a drop in temperature caused by a cold front is preceded by or accompanied by a powerful north wind.
Placing wind generators in the gulf rather than oil rigs makes a lot more sense. The initial investment is much lower (we won't even have to pay for them years before they are built and operational). In addition, this energy source is unlimited over time, does no ecological damage to our beaches and creates fish havens. This energy also makes us less dependent on oil, foreign or domestic.
Peter, Paul, and Mary got it right: "The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind."
Paul Scolaro, New Port Richey
Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio's "Quote of the Day" Jan. 6
Fools of all ages
I've never been to Gasparilla, but I've seen enough photos and news coverage of it over the past 30 years to question the logic of Mayor Iorio's quote, in which she warns "our young people" not to go to Gasparilla to "behave foolishly."
My perception of this event is that participants of all ages are there specifically to "behave foolishly." In fact, Gasparilla appears to me to be one of the most foolish annual events imaginable. Iorio's quote is surely an oxymoron.
Anthony Skey, St. Petersburg