School nurses needed to help promote healthier studentsI...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 09, 1998

School nurses needed to help promote healthier students

I wish to commend The Sun and reporter Diana K. Sugg for the front-page article "School nurses rescue students and staff" (Nov. 28). Drawing attention to the need for school nurses and the increasing demands placed upon them, you acknowledged the value of placing professionals in this role. This is indeed good news.

As greater numbers of children with complex medical needs are enrolled in traditional schools, their special requirements far exceed the abilities of school personnel. Youngsters go to school each day exhibiting the effects of late-20th century societal ills. Yet school nurses -- if they are available -- are often the only health professionals who see these children on a regular basis.

Teachers and administrative staff have their hands full with challenges of contemporary classrooms without the added burden of attending to sick and injured children. As your article stated so well, a school nurse has the knowledge and skills to recognize and manage acute and chronic disease and to interface with other health care professionals. Providing preventive care and health education (along with hugs), the school nurse reduces illness and injury and optimizes the students' opportunity for learning.

The University of Maryland School of Nursing offers specialized educational programs to train school nurses. We have also developed models of school-based health services in partnership with school nurses in several jurisdictions, including Baltimore City and Baltimore, Caroline and Dorchester counties.

Barbara R. Heller

Baltimore

The writer is dean and professor of the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

Help smokers quit habit by removing the nicotine

As a former smoker who watched two brothers die from emphysema and is watching a sister slowly deteriorate from the disease, I am particularly distressed to observe teen-agers taking up the filthy weed.

I was lucky to get out from under the influence while still fairly young. It was incredibly difficult to quit, and I am occasionally haunted by nightmares of starting to smoke again.

Throwing millions of dollars into advertising the evils of smoking will probably do little to curb teen-age smoking because the ads will fall on the deaf ears of rebelling youths who think they are invincible.

A far more cost-effective solution would be to regulate the addictive substance out of cigarettes so that later on, when teen-agers are older, wiser and feeling less invincible, it will not be too difficult for them to stop smoking as it was for my siblings.

Ajax Eastman

Baltimore

Nicotine not worst of nation's drug ills

Joseph Adams, president of the Maryland Children's Initiative Education Fund, said in his letter to the editor ("Selling product that is route to important drug problem," Nov. 23) that nicotine is by far the most important drug problem in the nation.

Anyone who has had experience with the horrors of heroin and the devastation it brings to the user and his or her family would not agree. Given a choice between legal nicotine and illegal heroin, nicotine wins hands down.

R. A. Bacigalupa

Baltimore

Calvert Institute has cure for debt and tax problems

Barry Rascovar has the Calvert Institute at an unfair advantage (" 'Smart financing' right move for Md.," Dec. 2).

He is correct that reducing the state debt, as we advocate, would save taxpayers millions annually in interest payments. Maryland has the highest per capita debt in the mid-Atlantic and 11th highest in the United States.

But Mr. Rascovar is less enthusiastic about the program reductions that are needed to pare the cumulative debt. Hence his all-too-easy dismissal of the Calvert Institute's recent budget-cutting study, "The Cure," as being "fatally flawed" without explaining how it is flawed.

Mr. Rascovar seems to take his cue from the General Assembly's Department of Legislative Services, which has an interest in downplaying the significance of reports that advocate tax cuts and budget reductions. Legislative Services has spent countless hours devising a 17-page rebuttal to "The Cure," a project it would hardly have undertaken if it did not take the study very seriously.

Within its rebuttal, Legislative Services takes serious aim at only five of the Calvert Institute's 39 recommended budget-cutting actions.

The rebuttal states: "To the extent steps are taken to slow the growth in or to reduce outstanding debt, there will be General Fund savings that could be used for other purposes." A tax cut is one purpose.

Legislative Services quibbles with details of "The Cure," but its statement is hard to square with Mr. Rascovar's talk of "fatal flaws." It's more of a vindication.

Douglas P. Munro

Baltimore

The writer is president of the Calvert Institute.

Taxes were the issue in state election

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