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Speak up about the great care we get at Bay Pines

Re: Patient charges spark Bay Pines inquiry, Feb. 9.

I find myself in direct opposition to recent articles in your paper regarding Bay Pines VA Medical Center. I have strongly felt the "system" the VA has to accommodate patients is noteworthy, to say the least. It could be a very positive model to be followed by the "private sector." The staff works as a team, and while I have not had contact with the department indicated in the paper, how can one department of such importance be such a horrific contrast to what I have seen? I know problems occur, but I feel the entire staff at Bay Pines is not getting a fair or correct assessment. Anonymous letters? Give me a break. How many times do you "see" something and find out what you thought you saw was wrong?

I am sorry this gentleman had a bad experience; maybe he will be better off with a private sector provider. There are usually two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in between. But don't let the public think that Bay Pines is not up to par, It most certainly is.

Human error will occur when humans are in charge. Patients bear a responsibility as well as the provider of services. Come on, it's time to step up and speak for the great care we do get at Bay Pines. I cannot be the only person who has come through those doors and marveled at how I was treated - especially since I spent my entire work career in the medical field.

Thank you all at Bay Pines for a job well done. Handle what problems you need to but never lose sight of the thorough care you give to us who go there.

Christina Ennist, New Port Richey

Veterans hospitals must shape up

Re: Patient charges spark Bay Pines inquiry.

All Americans must be outraged at the shocking neglect committed by the VA when a wheelchair-bound amputee was dumped outside of his home without a caregiver present. The patient remained outside for two hours until his wife returned home.

Negligence, indifference and blatant mistakes must stop at all of our nation's veterans hospitals. Compassion, competence and respect must be mandatory at these hospitals for the courageous veterans who gave everything for us. Rigid inspections, health and safety regulation, patient advocates and strict quality controls are imperative for our heroes' welfare. We must hold Congress accountable for these failures and insist upon maximum federal spending for the upkeep of veterans hospitals and health care needs.

We can cut costs in veterans care if we avoid unnecessary wars and military adventurism in foreign lands. We cannot allow the chicken hawk neocons to initiate wars with other men's sons doing the dying and enduring the disabilities. We cannot allow "survival of the fittest" to enter into the legal entitlement of care for all of our veterans.

Joan Peters, Largo

A positive experience at Bay Pines

I would like to offer a positive opinion of Bay Pines hospital. As a retired physician and veteran, I receive medical care from Bay Pines. My primary physician is exceptionally knowledgeable. The nursing staff and specialists are as competent. Many of my friends agree.

Herbert Gersh, M.D., Treasure Island

Heartwarming help for our wounded

Re: The long road to recovery, Feb. 12.

I was thrilled to finally see a positive article on the selfless efforts of our friends and neighbors who work for the VA and service organizations, in relation to serving our treasured Iraqi Freedom veterans and their deserving families.

This article by Brady Dennis touched many hearts. It proves how our country can indeed get together to serve our wounded families in their time of need. These few have given so much for our safety and freedom and deserve our support. It made me proud to be an American!

Barbara Ziegler, Tampa

Close the boot camps

Re: Juvenile boot camp beating death.

I am amazed that the video of Martin Lee Anderson's beating at Bay County Boot Camp hadn't "mysteriously disappeared."

Reps. Gus Barreiro, R-Miami Beach, and Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, are to be commended for speaking the horrible truth about the brutality they saw on the video. Sadly, our society is so twisted that truthful politicians are then characterized by Bay County Sheriff W. Frank McKeithen as "irresponsible" after they voiced concerns about the horrific abuse they saw.

The public has the right to see what Bay County Sheriff's staff did to 14-year-old Anderson. The public has a right to learn about how these juvenile boot camps threaten and intimidate through the use of fear and force. A child rarely dies from such abuse, and most physical wounds heal. But the child has often lost hope and suffered a broken spirit forever.

Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice must not continue to be irresponsible by allowing these dysfunctional boot camps to continue. Release the video and close the boot camps!

Cathy Corry, president, justice4kids.org, Clearwater

Excesses of official abuse

Sadly this practice of hazing at "boot camps" and/or juvenile facilities continues. The behavior of some offenders can be atrocious and physically aggressive; proper restraint is necessary.

I took the training referred to as "PAR" (Physical Action Response). I consider most of it safely applied, but it can be used also for "pain compliance."

I worked at the now-defunct Florida Youth Academy for 90 days as a youth technician. I lasted for that short a time because I saw many young boys being painfully abused to gain their compliance. "Take downs" were a daily occurence and although it was "necessary," I felt it was too brutal. I was terminated because I didn't measure up to the task.

As I drive by the old Florida Youth Academy site now being demolished, I still hear the painful screams of those kids.

Soon condos will rise in its place. Thank God!

Robert Cerajewski, Largo

Hold the system accountable

Re: Choice of boot camp haunts dead boy's family, Feb. 11.

At age 14, Martin Anderson was on probation for joyriding in his grandmother's car (despite the fact that Grandmother didn't want to press charges). He was subsequently sentenced to boot camp (ineffective but profitable) because he came home after 6 p.m., thereby breaking his probation. Now, he is dead.

Martin lost his life because he was arrested for something that should have remained a family matter. Intervention by law enforcement was unwarranted, excessive and, ultimately, lethal.

The system needs to be held accountable - from the officer who made the avoidable arrest, to the state for pursuing this innocuous case, to the guards who beat him into unconsciousness.

He was just a regular kid who did not belong there. He could have been your kid.

Judy Robinson, St. Petersburg

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