Letters to the Editor - The Lakeville Journal - 10-13-22
Protect rights of all in Connecticut
I dispute Tom Morrison’s claim in his letter of Oct. 5 that Democrats have nothing to run on but women’s reproductive rights. Even if that were true, women’s bodily autonomy would still be a critically important issue. Leaving abortion rules to the states is exactly why women everywhere are outraged. Women may be protected in Connecticut but not our sisters, daughters, granddaughters and friends in other states.
We in Connecticut are not off the hook. Moreover, the claim that Logan wouldn’t vote for a national abortion ban if in Congress doesn’t consider the pressure Republican leadership might put on him. If men got pregnant, abortion would be national law, not just a right.
To my larger point, however: Democrats are the party of “Yes, We Can.” They have passed many important bills in the face of almost complete Republican opposition like the critically important infrastructure bill. (Remember the collapse of the I95 bridge.)
With the leadership of our Sen. Chris Murphy, they passed a gun violence prevention bill. The Inflation Reduction Act includes the first major funding to address climate change. This bill also lowers prescription drug costs, allows Medicare to negotiate with drug companies, caps out-of-pocket costs and penalizes companies that raise prices faster than the rate of inflation. The Chips and Science Act allows the U.S. to develop its own urgently needed supply of microchips. These are just a few examples of what Democrats have accomplished in the last two years.
U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes has dedicated her life to the public good. Her inspired work now benefits our whole congressional district where she has become a knowledgeable and experienced advocate for the district’s needs. She supports small farmers, small businesses, veterans; brought millions to police departments in the district, worked to ensure our schools have the resources they need, and much more, including supporting women’s reproductive rights. However, if the Republicans were in power, she would have great difficulty achieving the good she has done and will continue to do.
Of course, huge problems remain, but they are of long-standing, exacerbated by the recent pandemic and the moral imperative to support Ukraine. Such complex challenges require bi-partisan solutions. Until the Republican Party dares to move past Trump with his dangerous actions and lies and finds a stable and moderate center, partisan rancor and division will stand in our way.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party and extraordinary people like Jahana Hayes, our two senators, our congressional representatives, plus our own state Rep. Maria Horn have to be our flag bearers.
Vote for Zimmerman Nov. 8
I’m writing to urge those who care about the well-being of families to vote for Eva Bermudez Zimmerman for the state Senate.
I’ve met Eva a number of times since she began campaigning for the 30th District seat as a Democrat. I realized that she is an energetic, bright, experienced, and very well-informed young woman who would make an extremely effective state senator.
She has helped people get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Unlike her opponent, she understands the act’s complexities. If elected, she would work to expand the state subsidy so more families can get insurance.
Working with state legislators, she has also strengthened and expanded child care services so parents can take jobs. The organizer of Childcare for Connecticut’s Future, she has directed $183 million towards this goal.
A vote for Eva is a vote for affordable health insurance and affordable child care. Vote for Eva on Nov. 8.
Women’s health investment at SH
At Sharon Hospital, it is a priority to invest in the newest technologies to ensure our patients have seamless screenings and top-notch care. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, on average every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
October is commonly known as Breast Cancer Awareness month, but few are fully aware of the advancements made in breast cancer screening and related treatments.
Through investments in state-of-the-art screening technology, Sharon Hospital patients have access to early detection for many conditions early to patients receive the best possible care well into the future. This is just one way we are investing in preventative care services in the Sharon community and beyond.
Using advanced mammogram technology, we create detailed images of the breast to detect cancer as early as possible. A 3-D mammogram is advantageous in detecting breast cancer in some types of breast tissue because the 3-D image offer physicians a better look at areas of density.
Our advanced 3-D mammography technology means patients can stay local and receive advanced imaging services in their neighborhood.
By investing in your health, Sharon Hospital and Nuvance Health can provide guidance and supportive navigation to patients in their ultimate times of need.
Together, we are committed to caring for women throughout their lifespan and offer resources to help you live life to the fullest. We look forward to offering you advance mammogram services and other screenings this month and throughout the many years ahead.
Sharon Hospital Director of Imaging Services
Where does Horn stand on Maine statements?
According to Kevin Rennie, columnist for the Hartford Courant, state Rep. Maria Horn (D-64) has contributed to the campaign of Democrat Christine Maine, who is running for the 51st State House District. During a radio interview on Putnam, station WINY, a listener asked Maine how police can recruit more officers. Maine responded that some people “joined [police departments] because they wanted to beat people up with impunity, they wanted to have sex because the uniform attracted women and they wanted to speed.”
So has Maria Horn endorsed the view that officers, who all take an oath to uphold the law, are more accurately represented by Maine than the vast majority who take seriously their sworn duty to uphold the law?
It should also be noticed that Maine has contempt for other women, saying that they engage in sex with police officers because they are “attracted” by the uniform. Democrat Town Committee’s in the Putnam area have condemned Maine for her comments. Horn is co-chair of the General Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. Why has Horn remained unbelievably silent? She needs to condemn or condone Maine’s statement on police officers. The voters of the 64th District need to know.
Correcting the record
I would like to correct a statement attributed to me in an article published on October 6, 2022 week entitled: Sharon Hospital: A rural hospital’s routine.
While I did say that Sharon Hospital has increased some of its methods of communication to the public, I did not “commend” Nuvance’s recruitment and retention of physician’s, let alone primary care physicians in particular.
In fact, Foundation for Community Health (FCH) has been sounding the alarm about the erosion of primary care access in our communities for many years. This has included many direct conversations with whomever owned Sharon Hospital at any given time. The lack of access to primary care and behavioral health services is the basis for our work over the past 15 years or more on establishing a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) presence in North Canaan. We have invested well over a million and half dollars over the years on this endeavor to date and are excited to finally see it turn into a reality. Community Health and Wellness Center of Greater Torrington (CHWC), under the leadership of Joanne Borduas, has been a great partner to work with on this effort. As of today, the land has been purchased and cleared (it is across the street from the North Canaan Stop n’ Shop) and bids are in the process of being collected and reviewed. The State has also acknowledged the need and pledged $3 million in construction bonding funds.
What I actually shared with the reporter was that members of the Nuvance leadership have worked with Community Health and Wellness in offering space at Sharon Hospital to park CHWC’s mobile primary care van and that they have also been instrumental in trying to secure a federal Health Care Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designation for the area which can help recruitment and retention by making some benefits, like loan forgiveness and visa waivers, available for newly hired physicians.
Nancy L. Heaton, MPH
Chief Executive Officer
Foundation for Community Health
One birth that could have been very different
If I were to describe the experience of delivering my first child in August 2021, I would probably say “quick and pretty smooth.” I had a good experience. My daughter was born healthy: the most important thing. But faced with the thought of not having Sharon Hospital during her birth, I start to question the details and what could have been.
My water broke on a Saturday evening, two and a half weeks before my due date. My doctor advised I get to Sharon Hospital quickly to reduce risk of infection. My husband and I rushed out and drove barely 10 minutes. I was admitted immediately, and moved to a beautiful room by wonderful nurses. My doctor arrived; the baby wouldn’t be long. Suddenly, alarms were ringing — the baby’s heart rate was dropping. It was a blur, the nurses and doctor worked together so quickly. A few minutes later the monitors stabilized. The nurse explained that the umbilical cord had likely been wrapped around the baby’s neck, and the doctor had maneuvered me to relieve that. My baby was born, a vision, at 1:01am.
Was this a smooth birth? Yes. A doctor with decades of experience had been at my side. Specially trained, caring nurses supported every step. But what might have been, or will be, if Nuvance is allowed to close Labor and Delivery at Sharon Hospital? Would I have arrived to the hospital and admitted in such a short time? No. What if I had to deliver in the ER to doctors who, despite best intentions, had only 2 days of delivery training? What if I needed the OR on a Saturday night and it wasn’t open? What if I had arrived at the ER only to wait for an ambulance to a distant hospital? How much time and money would that cost? What if my baby’s heart rate dropped while driving with no monitor to alert anyone to what was happening? Would my baby be alive?
Suddenly, a “quick and pretty smooth” delivery doesn’t look the same. Almost everything has to go right, and literal lives are on the line. Experienced, trained doctors and nurses are vital. Even better at an advanced, comfortable environment like the Birthing Suites. It’s a beautiful enterprise to bring a baby into the world, but one with risks. As a first-time mother, you can only prepare so much, and then trust that the professionals helping you make up for what you don’t and can’t know. Nuvance’s plan is dangerous, leaving families with doubt and fear. Sharon Hospital is already the gold standard for Labor and Delivery. Why does Nuvance want to erase this beacon from our area? For whose profit, and at whose expense?
What kind of state does Connecticut want to be? One that puts its residents’ health and safety above profit? I urge other residents to write to the Office of Health Strategy firstname.lastname@example.org by Oct. 17 and reference Docket No. 22-32511-CON to voice your opposition to Nuvance’s planned closures.
SH: The view of a family doctor
Like virtually every practicing physician in Sharon Hospital’s catchment area, I am alarmed at the possibility that maternity and obstetrical care will no longer be available if Nuvance Health’s plan is approved. As a family physician that has served northwest Connecticut and northeast Dutchess County for 37 years, there is no doubt in my mind that such a loss would represent far more than an inconvenience as Nuvance appears to be framing their justification for their plan.
There will undoubtedly come the day when a woman in a true obstetrical emergency that is threatening her life and the life of her baby arrives atthe door of the Sharon Hospital Emergency Department. There will no doubt come the day, if obstetrical care is no longer available at Sharon Hospital,that a pregnant person or a baby will die. Might it be a frozen February night when transport over icy, hilly roads to Torrington or Poughkeepsie is simply too far, and the death occurs in an ambulance? Or in a family’s car who decides to make the dash on their own to a distant facility? The idea that our Emergency Department physicians (Nuvance’s plan for obstetrical emergencies) might be called upon to manage a potentially devastating birthing complication like a shoulder dystocia or attempt some other non-operative emergency obstetric maneuver borders on the absurd. All local clinicians know this and see it this way. In the 21st century in a nation with the best health care in the world, we should not even contemplate ED docs doing this. Aside from the sheer recklessness of the idea, talk about a lawsuit waiting to happen…
Beyond the discussion of the sheer dangers that would attend closing the maternity unit, the fact is that in ensuing years, hundreds and eventually thousands of families will be denied care at Sharon Hospital’s…THEIR hospital’s… state-of-the-art birthing facility. It may now be underutilized but could one day be full. All health care providers practicing “on the ground” in our region know that our patients, the residents of our community, don’t want this. Sharon Hospital’s mission is supposed to be, first and foremost, about providing essential health care services to the community. There is nothing more essential than being able to have a baby, safely, close to home.
The idea that some financial losses from one particular hospital unit are unmanageable given the enormous budget Nuvance enjoys belies the understanding, in the world of retail (sad that we are talking business and not health care) of “loss leaders.” Supermarkets take losses on a sale item to get folks into the store and the revenue comes back in other ways. Nuvance, if it keeps maternity at Sharon Hospital, will “get it back” by keeping the trust of its health care providers and the residents of our communities…our patients…by proving that it is acting in the best interests of all of us. Nuvance will lose far more than a few dollars if they are no longer willing to provide this vital function, which every community hospital ought to provide. It will have lost our trust and it will have lost part of its humanity.
Robert Dweck, MD
(The views expressed here by Dr. Dweck represent his own and may not represent those of Sun River HealthCare.)
Competence, compassion, community
The late Dr. Paul Farmer dedicated his life to bringing about health equity. As Harvard Medical School recognized in its tribute to Dr. Farmer, “He opened a path to the future of health equity by pioneering a practice of medicine for those most in need that combines world-class clinical care with a holistic and deeply moral dimension to preventing illness...to building a healthier, more just world.”
We live in a community in which lies this small community hospital at its center with its open doors, compassionate doctors, staff, caregivers, and all sorts of volunteers who are giving of their time and talent to prevent illnesses and protect and improve lives of the children, women and men of the community and its surrounding areas.
It has been offering health equity as described by Dr. Farmer. The doctors, nurses, and other caregivers of Sharon Hospital are dedicated to caring for us. The owners and administrators of the Sharon Hospital should continue to make the hospital a responsible, caring hospital that can meet most of our needs.
I am surrounded by Emergency Service Workers who are described by the CDC as vital to disaster response, EMS workers including first responders, EMTs, paramedics and others whose titles may not always suggest their EMS duties.
These dedicated people are ready to leave their families in the midst of dinner, give up a trip to their own children, ignore other of their needs and necessities to devote their time to the needs of our community, the greater Sharon Hospital community.
When arriving with my husband suffering what was found to be double pneumonia, last year with the strictest COVID prevention rules in place, he was swiftly, compassionately and thoughtfully taken from place to place for his X-rays and care in the Intensive Care Unit. During the weeks of not knowing whether or not he would survive, medical care had to be administered with protective gear, meaning that even when he dropped a pencil, it took minutes for the nurse or other caregiver to prepare to enter his room and help him.
Never did he hear a complaint about his requests nor find he was neglected. The staff at that time was limited by COVID-caused absences.
Everyone came across as compassionate. From entry into the hospital to his release to a nursing facility across the street after weeks, what was very apparent was the importance of not only having immediate access to his medical records, but also having an understanding of what the patient was experiencing in order to best help him to recovery.
A hospital cannot expect to have a “holistic and deeply moral dimension” if it fails to comprehend and respond to its patients’ needs.
Just as you cannot remove an arm and expect a person to function as if having two arms, a hospital cannot remove essential services, in the case now being addressed, its ICU or its maternity services and expect to meet its responsibility to those of us of its greater community.
Janine M. H. Selendy
Not the meaning of life: using God to justify political power, bad action
Here we go again.
Once again we have a high level religious leader claiming he knows God’s will — about politics. “God put you in power so that you could perform a service of special importance and of great responsibility for the fate of the country and the people entrusted to your care,” the patriarch said, joining a chorus of Russian officials congratulating Putin on his birthday.
Are we still going down this road of “deifying” political leaders and their machinations? Does humankind really still need to confer the imprimatur of blessed religiosity to the mere mortals that win, buy or steal our political elections?
Is that the sterling example of how civilization brings humanity up from the tribal rivalries that have festered, boiled, and caused untold carnage for millennia?
It doesn’t just happen in Russia. Here we dress it up a bit differently, but it conveys the same subliminal message “good is not good, good is what we say is good.” Come on.
In our political culture (and world in general), the “oxi”-potent addiction to power has run amok and now mixes freely with the spiritual aphrodisiac of culturally intolerant superiority. This has created a matrix of hardening boundaries that makes communication about all things political nothing more than a competitive blood-sport, with crippled winners and losers.
To many, politics has become a carnival-like three legged race where personal opinion is strapped to religious intolerance creating a mutated species of overzealous denizens inhabiting “you’re less than me -land.”
Claiming that “God is on our side” camouflages a multitude of human failings. The most prominent: That any individual has figured out, with absolute self-assurance and certainty, the meaning of life. Give me a break.
One of the great things about traveling is that you get to experience the many different ways people have figured out how to be good humans — for each other. As well, traveling lets one see, if you’re honest, how sometimes you don’t measure up in that department.
Isolation within one’s own subgroup of like-mindedness breeds suspicion, fear and intolerance to difference. It’s in our long evolved biological makeup to fear differences within our species. That’s part of tribal survival. But, we have also evolved the abilities to learn and teach — about ourselves and others.
By claiming that “God is on our side” we indulge in a fantasy that may have worked in centuries past, to thwart egregious manmade humanitarian catastrophes by uniting disparate tribes (nations) in a commonality of purpose toward cultural survival. But, get real. In today’s world the word “pandemic” is resonating clear as a bell, as is “climate change.” They are relentlessly rolling ’round the world, and are becoming ever louder, heard even over the constant din of selfish corporate nationhood and consumerism.
Will we survive as a species? I dunno. But, the way we’re going lately, I can’t tell if it is love for humankind or the love of power over humankind that will determine our fate.
Student loan debt change a transfer
On Aug. 24, President Biden announced a plan to provide up to $20,000 in debt cancellation to Pell Grant recipients with loans held by the Department of Education, and up to $10,000 in debt cancellation to non-Pell Grant Recipients making less than $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples). The projected cost of this plan is $400 billion over the next 30 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Moreover, as of June 30, federal student loan debt (as estimated by the CBO) is approximately $1.6 trillion among 43 million borrowers.
This loan cancellation plan will add to the country’s deficit and we must consider the cost of this plan. Nothing is totally free; someone always pays for it. The move completely disregards the millions of Americans who paid off their loans, didn’t take out loans, or chose not to go to college. Where is their relief? It certainly is NOT in the price of gas, groceries, school supplies, or housing and rental prices.
Our current representative in Congress is supportive of this measure and even said this will deliver relief to “Americans most in need.” There are other Americans most in need as well. Consider those who are working two or more jobs to make ends meet, struggling to put food on the table every night, and trying to figure out how they can afford next month’s rent.
George Logan, Republican candidate for Congress, said it perfectly. He said he would argue that this is a “transfer onto the backs of hard- working Americans.” That’s precisely what it is. It also sends a bad message to our youth that you can take out a loan for your own personal education, and it will be forgiven and paid for by someone else. George Logan is a reasonable and fiscally responsible candidate for Congress, and while he believes we need to find solutions for the rising cost of college, he knows a short term transfer of debt certainly is not the way to go. George Logan will be a much needed check on the one-party rule in Washington.