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Tampa General vows to improve

Tampa General vows to improve I wanted to personally alert readers to a letter and findings from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services of a complaint survey resulting from the two tragic suicides on our psychiatric unit in late July.

The result of this survey is that the Medicare provider agreement between our hospital and CMS will be terminated Sept. 6 unless the "immediate jeopardy" to patients' health and safety is removed.

I was saddened, embarrassed and concerned reading the surveyor's observations about our psychiatric unit. I am sincerely committed to taking whatever steps are necessary to prevent this from happening again. We are responding to the findings in an aggressive manner. We are modifying the physical environment, improving observation of our patients, and changing policies and procedures as cited in the surveyor's report. We have already identified independent experts to review our approaches, provide advice on improvements that need to be made as well as oversight for the foreseeable future.

Every issue raised by the surveyors is being addressed. A plan of corrective actions and documentation will be delivered to CMS in a timely manner so the plan can be studied, discussed and modified as needed.

A copy of the CMS survey can be found on our Web site,

All of the employees, physicians and volunteers understand that the community must have absolute trust in the operation of our psychiatric unit. Restoration of that trust is our No. 1 goal.

Ron Hytoff, president and CEO, Tampa General Hospital, Tampa

Smoke and mirrors | Aug. 17, a Times investigation

HCC committed to highest principles of integrity

I feel that I must address the extensive article in Sunday's Times. First, and most importantly, the vision that was referenced is solely the vision of Hillsborough Community College and no one else. This vision is one that we have created and have been working toward realizing since 1999 when our district board of trustees, administration and members of the Dale Mabry campus made public our intention to create a public-private partnership on the campus.

The elements of this truly innovative educational and work force development complex, which incorporates sports medicine, performance science and culinary and hospitality management, were selected because of their nexus with existing programs and the anticipation of future program growth. The high-paying jobs resulting from such programs are what this community needs to sustain its economy.

For nearly a decade, HCC has had conversations with members of the public and private sectors interested in being a part of this project. We worked with Carter and Associates and completed a campus master plan incorporating the above referenced elements as the campus' blueprint for future growth and direction. One element, the completion of Hawks Landing, our student apartment complex, has been a resounding success and is filled.

The modest 2005 proposals that were rejected as referenced in the article reflected a single, narrow concept, and it was never our intention to proceed on the development of the property in such a myopic way. These other development proposals did not reflect the integration of our academic programs into the facilities and operations of the private sector businesses, nor fully represent all of the elements that the college was seeking, and so we proceeded with no one. Essentially, we chose not to lease our land for the sole benefit of a private enterprise, and that remains an unacceptable option.

HCC at any time could have easily sold the entire property, but we share an entrepreneurial spirit at HCC and value public/private partnerships that prove beneficial to both parties. In addition to the enhancement of our academic programs, the development that we are discussing will contain a significant revenue stream for decades to come.

Yes, this project is an ambitious one, and one that we maintain can become a reality. We are fully committed to the highest principles of integrity and ensuring the wise and proper use of the resources that the taxpayers of our community have entrusted with us.

I feel it is important to state that not one dollar has been paid to Greg Neal or Keystone Ventures for this project. Hillsborough Community College will never sign on the dotted line of any project until we feel that this college and this community will benefit and be proud of the ultimate outcome.

Gwendolyn W. Stephenson, Ph.D., president, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa

Smoke and mirrors | Aug. 17, a Times investigation

College needs to wake up

I recommend that the staff at Hillsborough Community College research information regarding Lou Pearlman, a Florida entrepreneur who is currently doing time in the federal penitentiary. Even if you do not do the due diligence necessary to adequately screen Greg Neal, at least be cognizant of the misrepresentations and lies put forth by him.

Stop extending the deadline — he missed it a long time ago. And heed the aphorism, "There's a sucker born every minute."

J. Johnston, Tampa

Showdown at Saddleback | Aug. 19, William Kristol column

Enough political bombast

Bill Kristol is critical of Sen. Barack Obama's reflective and comprehensive responses to Rick Warren's questions while applauding Sen. John McCain's decisive albeit abbreviated responses to the same questions.

Haven't we all had enough of the thoughtless, bombastic policies of the Bush administration? Is John McCain going to continue with the reckless bravado that got us into a mess such as Iraq while losing focus of real threats such as al-Qaida?

Although Kristol correctly notes Obama's pensive and contemplative qualities, he incorrectly suggests that such qualities are indicative of weakness and an unwillingness to act decisively in confronting evil. Obama was unwavering when he stated in a previous Democratic debate that he would "take out" Osama bin Laden in Pakistan if he had actionable intelligence.

McCain, however, was critical of such a policy. I wonder what McCain actually meant when he indicated that we must defeat evil. I guess he believes we should defeat evil unless it resides within the territorial borders of Pakistan.

Jeff Grabel, Brandon

Showdown at Saddleback | Aug. 19, William Kristol column

Obama in thrall to far left

Bill Kristol minced words in his critique of the Saddleback dialogue. Barack Obama's answers were not mere harmless and wordy generalities and obstructions. His tortured torrent of verbiage reflected the hold the radical left has on him.

The clear message from Obama is that there are no moral absolutes but that moral relativism would inform his decisionmaking process if he were elected.

Sen. John McCain rightly interpreted the "evil" question as one relating to the murder of thousands of Americans. If Obama were confronted by this in-your-face murderous evil, any response would require initially a self-flagellation process by which this country would confess to whatever it may have done to "cause" murderers to engage in murder.

Obama would presumably then "confront" the murderers and plead for their forgiveness of us for our alleged sins.

Jeff Meyer, Clearwater

Showdown at Saddleback | Aug. 19, William Kristol column

Warren should butt out

Religious leaders such as Rick Warren should keep their nose out of politics or else lose their tax exemptions. Would we not all like to have the privilege that they have to accumulate great wealth without having to pay their fair share of the cost of running this country?

William Kristol in his column completely missed it. The biggest evil committed in the name of doing good was the invasion of Iraq. However, "doing good" was only nominal. We all know that this invasion was based on dishonesty and deception.

David A. Cimino, St. Petersburg

How about a scientist?

It's not clear to me what qualifications permitted the evangelist Rick Warren to question the presidential candidates.

But now that he's had his turn, let's invite a scientist to host a similar event, talking about things that actually exist.

Nick Hobart, New Port Richey

Tampa General vows to improve

08/21/08 [Last modified: Friday, August 22, 2008 4:37pm]
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