New citizens show America's real face
With all the insane political arguments in this country right now, it's easy for Americans to lose sight of who we are. Thursday my wife became an American citizen. She was one of 300 new Americans at the morning session in Tampa. There was one in the afternoon too. People from 77 nations became Americans — 28 of the people were, like my wife, from Cuba.
The ceremony itself wasn't anything spectacular. From a technical point of view it didn't have lots of glitz. But that wasn't the real show. The real show was the people who were just becoming "Americans." To see the pride and the patriotism in these people takes your breath away. I think every American should be able to go to one of these. Most of us born here could learn a thing or two. I was amazed and proud to see this go on the way it did.
We don't appreciate what we have, but these folks do. I know that people from less-than-free countries like Cuba have a passionate love for this country. There isn't space for me to even try to explain it here.
The faces of the people of all races, and many nations tells you what America is about. Who is an American? Well, 28 Cubans in the morning, people from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, China, Vietnam, the Philippines. Yes, we Americans are everyone on this planet. That's what makes America, America!
Kenneth Pangborn, New Port Richey
Pain clinics face moratorium | April 21, story
I read this well-written article by David Decamp in the St. Petersburg Times. It is an indictment against physicians that these abuses of prescriptive authority are not checked by professional organizations or the Florida Board of Medicine. It is so bad now that local government is considering stepping in to issue a moratorium.
The great irony in all this is that state physician groups and regulatory boards cannot or will not police their own, but have the egotistical pomposity to impose restrictive regulations on nurse practitioners, keeping Florida one of the few states in which NPs are not authorized to prescribe controlled medications. The results of these restrictions are the needless suffering of legitimate patients and denial of access to health care.
Physicians will bellow that extending the authority for full prescribing rights to NPs will only make the medication diversion problem worse. But of course, Florida has the worst problem in the nation, and only physicians are allowed to prescribe those medications in Florida. The physicians' false argument rings hollow for the pure turf protectionism that it is. Physicians own a shabby record of regulating their colleagues while putting their own interests ahead of patients who need care. Shame on them!
Jeffrey Hazzard, St. Petersburg
To ease pain, he risks prison | April 22, story
Don't open this door
I sympathize with John Haring, not just because he experiences chronic pain but also because he apparently battles depression. Marijuana has been shown to exacerbate depression and, while providing intoxicating effects that cause one to temporarily "feel good," it is certainly not a medicine. Although some components of marijuana have indeed shown medicinal benefit, the scientific research just isn't there for smoked marijuana to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Smoking is an extremely unsafe delivery system.
Many states that have bypassed the scientific process and legalized marijuana under the guise of medicine are now experiencing the devastating impact of the consequences.
For instance, recent reports from the Colorado Marijuana Registry Program show an increase from 8,900 registered "patients" last June, to an estimated 63,000 as of February 2010, with 1,000 applications arriving each day. As of December 2009 the program reported that 15 doctors were responsible for 73 percent of all recommendations and that 91 percent of those recommendations were for "pain" while only 4 percent combined for the more serious conditions of cancer and HIV/AIDS. Along with this has come an increase in marijuana grow houses and other law enforcement issues.
Should Florida risk this abomination to save Haring from a prison sentence? Or should Haring go to prison for his illegal drug use and grow operation? Haring has been caught with more than 141 plants which can produce anywhere from 135,360 to 1,353,600 joints, a dubious ration of pot for one person. As a drug policy and prevention expert, I would question whether Haring's crimes were medicinally motivated.
Calvina Fay, executive director, Drug Free America Foundation Inc., St. Petersburg
To ease pain, he risks prison | April 22, story
The real hazard
This poor fellow is being made to suffer needlessly. The story cites a state statistic, "Prescription drugs kill six Floridians a day," but there's no mention of how many people overdose and die on pot.
Maybe it's because none do. Dangerous, potentially fatal drugs like OxyContin and morphine are prescribed regularly, but smoking marijuana lands a quadriplegic in jail. What's wrong with that picture?
C. Mangialardi-Diaz, New Port Richey
For doctors, going solo loses its lure April 18, story
More medical options
Letitia Stein's article regarding business challenges for doctors today thoughtfully described the challenges facing solo practice physicians.
In presenting hospital acquisition or employment as an alternative, it left out two new options that physicians and hospitals are now considering.
First, medical practices are beginning to go virtual, using digital technologies to see — and be seen by — patients literally around the world. The high cost and variation of medical care in the United States, the increased success of international "medical tourism" and the rise of retail-based clinics have also contributed to this "Copernican revolution" in medicine.
Secondly, in light of the widespread failures reported by hospitals that acquired medical practices in the 1990s, physicians and hospitals are now looking at new relationships drawn from the world of business format franchising.
I suspect that patients, employers, physicians and hospitals will all see a good deal more of both in the near future.
Ronald L. Hammerle, chairman, Health Resources, Valrico
Castor boosts microcredit
Congresswoman Kathy Castor recently co-sponsored the bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to professor Muhammad Yunus. This shows her commitment to helping people in the world and in our community lift themselves out of poverty.
Yunus has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work in microcredit, which has proven effective worldwide and can work in Tampa Bay.
There is a move afoot to open a branch of Yunus' Grameen America here this year, and Castor's putting herself behind this award helps move things forward.
Thank you, Rep. Castor.
Ken Schatz, Tampa
Crist is winning points
As an independent, I have never been very impressed with Charlie Crist. He has been acting like an empty suit since he became governor — until now.
When the governor went against his party to veto the defective teacher bill, I saw a man who has finally stood up for his own principles, and I have a new admiration for the man. Far too many politicians these days only look to their respective party leaders to identify their own beliefs, and that is not what the taxpayers are paying them for.
Although I am independent, I do sometimes have to agree with how the Democrats often openly disagree over certain things. After all, weren't they elected because someone thought they were smart enough to think for themselves?
Thanks, Charlie, you may have just earned my vote, no matter what party you choose to be associated with.
Ken DeKing, Zephyrhills