1. Opinion

Let advanced practice nurses do what they’re trained to do

Here’s what readers are saying in Saturday’s letters to the editor.

Let nurse anesthetists practice

Keep doctors in loop for safety | Letter, Feb. 12

I am a physician who has worked with Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs). In fact, I started my career as an RN and operating room supervisor, and later chose to get my medical degree. I am now a residency-trained, board certified specialist in family medicine.

In Florida, CRNAs are not required to work with anesthesiologists in any practice setting. But when they do, it’s the CRNA who usually provides the hands-on care and stays with the patient throughout the procedure, not the anesthesiologist. The truth is, CRNAs are highly educated, highly trained professionals. Nurse anesthetists must complete seven to eight-plus years of health-care and anesthesia-related education and more than 9,000 hours of clinical training prior to graduating with an advanced degree.

Today, thousands of CRNAs are practicing throughout Florida. They are the largest provider of anesthesia services in many parts of rural Florida, allowing patients in these underserved areas to access essential obstetrical, surgical and trauma stabilization services. I speak from experience as a patient as well. CRNAs have administered anesthesia to me — and my children.

Twenty-two states allow CRNAs to practice without physician supervision or protocol. Many medical studies examining care in states that do not have supervision requirements found no difference in patient safety or healthcare quality.

We all agree that the safety and well-being of patients is a top priority. As a physician I have worked alongside dozens of APRNs and CRNAs who are absolutely qualified to deliver health care services without the oversight of physicians. I support HB 607 that would allow APRNs to practice to the full extent of their education, and do what they are trained to do.

Dr. Martha McDonough, Yulee

Monitor your heart health

American Heart Month

This illustration shows the human vascular system. [The Washington Post]

February is American Heart Month — a time to bring greater awareness to heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. While heart disease can take many forms, heart valve disease is one of the lesser known conditions. In fact, three out of four Americans know little to nothing about it. But heart valve disease affects as many as 11 million Americans. While it can be fatal, innovations in medicine have allowed many with the disease to receive effective, minimally invasive treatment. But in order to seek treatment, you first have to recognize the signs and symptoms.

That’s not always an easy task, especially when many symptoms, including shortness of breath, dizziness and general fatigue, can easily be mistaken as “normal” signs of aging. Those over 75 years old or anyone with a history of heart failure, diabetes, heart attack or radiation treatment in the chest area for cancer at earlier ages, can be at risk for valve disease. Fortunately, a simple check-up at the doctor, who can listen to your heart, can usually identify a murmur — which is an irregular heartbeat and a telling sign of heart valve disease. On Heart Valve Disease Awareness Day — today — encourage yourself or a loved one to get their heart checked. It could save a life.

Sue Peschin, Washington, D.C.

The writer is president and CEO for the Alliance for Aging Research in Washington.

Climate change is real

Clearwater’s rising risk | Feb. 15

Aerial view of traffic heading towards Clearwater Beach on the Clearwater Causeway. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]

The views of the two Clearwater City Council candidates who do not “believe” in climate change are troubling. Their beliefs and political affiliations do not alter the scientific fact and overwhelming evidence that the climate is changing now and at increasingly faster rates. The sooner all elected officials realize this and commit to reducing carbon emissions, the less destructive the impacts we leave for our children and future generations to endure. Local mitigation plans are good, but national policies are needed to make meaningful fossil fuel emission reductions. Several climate bills have been introduced in Congress. The bill with the greatest number of co-sponsors and best chance of passing is HR 763, the Energy Efficiency and Carbon Dividend Act. It embodies a market-based carbon fee and dividend policy projected to reduce emissions 40 percent in the first 12 years, create 2.1 million new jobs and save 295,000 lives in 10 years, and return 100 percent of net revenues back to families to pay for short term rising fuel costs. It’s a win-win policy for everyone but requires citizens to persuade their members of congress to support it.

Marie Parks, Clearwater

New College paved my way

Preserve academic gem | Column, Feb. 14

Donal O'Shea, president of New College of Florida [ File photo ]

The Florida House is considering HB 7087, which would merge New College of Florida with Florida State University. If that happens, New College will likely lose the advantages of a small liberal arts school. I studied computer science at New College. Now, I work in Google’s augmented reality division. New College allowed me to study computer science my own way. I learned programming in a one-on-one class, completed a software engineering internship in San Francisco during New College’s independent study period, and wrote a senior thesis exploring an area of computer science I was interested in. These endeavors led directly to the job I have now. I object to the loss of an institution that allowed me to create my own path to academic and career success. Original thought is greatly valued in any future-oriented, forward-thinking industry. New College fosters that in abundance.

Marty Chenyao, Sarasota

Blunt talk saved lives

Baffling dip in life expectancy | Editorial, Feb. 17

Dr. C. Everett Koop, who headed the team that separated 13 month old Siamese twins. Twins Siamese, Includes Eng & Chang [ UPI ]

Does anyone remember Surgeon General C. Everett Koop? It was the 1980s, and in the kind compassionate voice of an old-school pediatrician, our surgeon general explained to America about AIDS and HIV. He spoke to us in his heart-to-heart fashion about this dreaded disease. His message was clear — this is what HIV is, this is who is at greatest risk and this is how to stop the spread of this killer. Dr. Koop did so without fear of offending any subset of society or political group and, in doing so, saved countless lives.

Mark Campbell, St. Petersburg