Senators AsleepEditor: How can our senators sleep at night...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 29, 1991

Senators Asleep

Editor: How can our senators sleep at night knowing that there are 6 million children in America going to bed hungry? How many others could be fed and housed with the raise our senators are awarding themselves?

No wonder there is so much voter apathy. Why bother? With such insensitive politicians in the driver's seat, this is no longer a ''government of the people, by the people and for the people.''

Agnes McAvinue.

Baltimore.

State Work

Editor: Much has been said recently about Gov. William Donald Schaefer's decision to require state employees to work more hours each week without providing any compensation. It should be noted that the hardship does not end there.

State employees will not be receiving their incremental or cost-of-living increases this year. A number of positions within the state system have been frozen or eliminated.

As a psychologist employed part-time at the Walter P. Carter Center, a state psychiatric hospital, I have the opportunity to regularly see the impact of these decisions. One group of state employees which is particularly hard hit by them is the nursing staff at the Carter Center.

While difficult fiscal decisions must be made to help balance the state's budget, it is important to consider the impact of these decisions on both the state employees and the people they serve.

At the Carter Center these new decisions only serve to further degrade staff morale, create additional financial hardship for hard-working employees who are already underpaid, and most importantly, make it difficult to provide critical aspects of patient care.

While no one will challenge cutting back on excess or waste, some areas can only be cut back so far before vital services suffer. While the governor's decision may provide savings in some ways, in other ways it may be an extremely costly one.

Jeffrey E. Barnett.

Annapolis.

HIV Danger

Editor: As a practicing orthopedic surgeon, I am thoroughly familiar with the mechanism of transmitting the HIV virus from patients and from physicians to each other, and with the hysteria that has swept the nation and Congress about the latter possibility.

Let me first point out that the chances of physician-to-patient transfer are so remote as to be negligible for all intents and purposes.

The only documented incident is that of the Florida dentist, and even the Center for Communicable Diseases has been unable to come up with a plausible mechanism by which one, let alone five patients, could have become infected, considering the extreme vulnerability of the virus and its short lifetime in the open environment.

The patient-to-physician transfer is a more likely event. But while we senior and attending physicians are in a position to practice ''safe surgery,'' it is those young physicians in training, the residents and interns who are at the front of the battle, in shock-trauma units, emergency rooms and operating rooms, who routinely are exposed to the body fluids of patients from the inner cities who are most likely to carry the virus.

These men and women are not the typical ''fat cat doctors,'' so eagerly bashed around by public and press alike, but recent medical school graduates shouldered with huge debts from their education, supporting young families on marginal salaries.

If society feels protected by compulsory testing of physicians, eliminating those who are HIV positive from their midst, then that same society is obligated to support these young doctors with generous disability and life insurance policies in the event that they become HIV positive and must end their careers.

As long as we are able to rid ourselves of neither AIDS nor Sen. Jesse Helms, we should at least not punish those who have been infected, which itself is enough of a catastrophe.

Robert O. Kan, M.D.

Baltimore.

Mansion Spending

Editor: First, I read with disgust of the $1.7 million that was spent to completely re-do the Governor's Mansion.

By the way, does anyone even live there? I thought Gov. William Donald Schaefer lived in one of his other residences. Does Hilda Mae Snoops live there?

Then I read, with even more disgust, of the governor's flip, arrogant and sarcastic replies as to why so much of the taxpayers' money was spent.

Are all governors absolute rulers, or is Maryland's the only one?

Why do the taxpayers never hear about things like this until after the damage has been done?

And what happens now? Governor Schaefer tells us all to butt out and goes about his daily business of running our state into the ground, and we are all $1.7 million poorer.

Aren't these people accountable for their actions?

Is this really the last we will hear of this disgraceful situation? Am I really the only person in Maryland who wonders about these things?

Marcy Shackelford.

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