Health care costs
A source of savings, quality care
For years, state and federal lawmakers have tried to find an answer to escalating health care costs. At the same time, patients and families want access to quality health care that is both compassionate and cost-effective.
A new study once again reveals that one type of health care consistently provides significant savings while offering high-quality, individualized care that traditionally tops patient and family satisfaction surveys. That care is hospice care.
The journal Health Affairs published a study in its March issue that reinforces the cost-effectiveness of hospice care. The authors compared hospice patients with non-hospice patients and found $2,561 in savings to Medicare for each patient enrolled in hospice from 53 to 105 days before death. In addition, the study found that patients enrolled in hospice had significantly lower rates of hospital services and fewer in-hospital deaths.
Beyond the cost savings, hospice offers patients and their loved ones the specialized care to face the unique challenges associated with serious medical conditions. The hospice care teams professionally address pain and symptoms, so patients can avoid unwanted hospitalizations and remain in their homes, comfortable and calm, surrounded by family and loved ones. Additional support from hospice chaplains and counselors can help patients and families confront spiritual and emotional issues that can come with the end of life. Finally, hospice provides patients and families the dignity to make the most of the time they have remaining together.
Roxanne Riley, executive director, LifePath Hospice, Tampa
Many dreams await bed tax | March 9
Clearwater is making a $160 million bet that at least 950,000 visitors per year will want to see Winter the dolphin. I have visited Winter and agree that the now-famous and inspirational mammal deserves a more suitable home. I have no doubt that a new aquarium will be a big draw for tourists. Considering the size of the investment I hope Winter, who is young in dolphin years, lives a very long life.
My question is: How long does Winter need to live for the investment pay off? What is "Plan B" should Winter suffer an early demise? Losing the star attraction would be unspeakably sad for many reasons, not least of which would be the financial viability of an aquarium without her.
Larry Weiner, St. Petersburg
Homes for humans
A 200,000-square-foot aquarium for $160 million, at $800 a square foot, is a lot of money to spend on a few hundred fish. The same money could be used by Clearwater to build homes for 2,000 families and, in the process, create a lot more jobs.
Malcolm Berko, Seminole
Economy rolls, for now | March 9
Too many still hurting
Your article on the jobs number does a disservice to readers. While the official unemployment rate is 7.7 percent, the lowest since December 2008, the labor force participation rate — which gets at the universe of jobs actually out there — is also the lowest since then. And the real unemployment rate, which includes those who have given up looking, is over 14 percent.
And while your up arrow highlights the 236,000 jobs gained, your article does not mention the 130,000 people who left the workforce. If, as your article says, we need 200,000 new jobs per month to keep even, did we really only pick up 106,000?
Ernest Lane, Trinity
S.D. law will let teachers be armed | March 9
Watching the watchers
South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed into law a measure allowing the state school districts to arm teachers. They feel this will help prevent tragedies. Let's hope this doesn't encourage bravado and that someone is doing background checks on these armed teachers. A mental fitness test might be a good idea, or maybe a few questions that could discern whether the individual uses common sense.
Linda Dunham, St. Petersburg
Karzai: U.S., Taliban colluding | March 11
I sometimes get angry over articles in the paper, but none made me angrier than this one. Being a retired chief master sergeant in the Air Force with over 30 years of service, I have never heard any person or country accuse the United States of collusion with the enemy.
For a country where the United States has sent billions of dollars in aid, and lost thousands of U.S. military lives, to have the audacity to accuse us of conspiring to "foment violence as a pretext to keep foreign troops in Afghanistan" is preposterous. Hopefully President Barack Obama will immediately pull out all American troops from Afghanistan and let the country fend for itself.
George Joiner, Clearwater
February Letter of the Month
Lessons from the rink
I agree with much of what the letter writer has to say. However, I think the argument that part of the problem with attendance at Tropicana Field is that so many area residents come from elsewhere is not completely valid. To support this, I look to the Lightning and their record of good attendance, even in a strike-shortened season and with poor performance.
Last week they lost to Winnipeg with a sold-out crowd at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. The Canadiens game was sold out as well. I know there are many visitors to our area from Canada during this time of year, but could there really be that many from Winnipeg to fill the Forum on a Thursday night? That same local population of people who have come from elsewhere manages to support the Bolts, so why not the Rays?
My son and I are lifelong Yankee fans, but we go to as many Rays games as possible, usually on weekends, because they are a young, aggressive team and we love baseball. The reasons we don't go more often are that the Trop is too far to travel on a weeknight and we simply can't afford it as often as we'd like, despite the fact that relative to other teams the Rays are a bargain.
Jim Podd, Valrico