Bad nursing homes are the exception, must be punished...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 01, 1999

Bad nursing homes are the exception, must be punished

The Sun reported that the Government Accounting Office has issued a report on nursing homes criticizing Maryland and other states for inadequate complaint investigation and response systems ("GAO report rips health officials," March 23).

We want to assure your readership that the majority of Maryland nursing homes provides very high quality care. We are dismayed to learn of examples of poor nursing home care, even if such examples are few in number.

Appropriate sanctions should be taken against nursing homes that cause harm to their patients, particularly facilities that repeatedly fail to meet the required standards of care. The Licensing and Certification Administration in the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene generally responds promptly to complaints alleging harm.

Nonetheless, it is obvious that the complaint investigation unit is understaffed, and we support additional staff positions so that investigations can be done more timely.

The federal nursing home inspection system is broken and must be fixed. The system is ineffective in coping with the small number of facilities that repeatedly violate the law, and it uses a subjective process that punishes providers for what are often minor mistakes rather than ensuring that problems are corrected.

Adele Wilzack, Annapolis Junction

Isabella Firth, Columbia

The writers are, respectively, president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland and president of the Mid-Atlantic Non-Profit Health and Housing Association.

Boosting Mfume candidacy shows political favoritism

I have to wonder what Kweisi Mfume has offered state politicians to support a change in residency requirements to enable him to run. And why do politicians want to increase only his pay if he runs?

Politicians have showed their arrogance for the system. I assume they feel emboldened by the courts' allowing Sen. Clarence Blount to represent a district while living outside it. I guess the politicians believe the public does not notice the difference between legitimate political process and political favoritism.

The Democratic Party needs to review its mission, or this lifelong Democrat will start voting Republican.

A. Wayne Hicks, Baltimore

Harford schools would lose with music program cuts

Funding be maintained for the instrumental music program in the Harford County elementary schools.

Eliminating funding in elementary schools will effectively kill instrumental music throughout all school levels as the ripple effect eventually hits middle and high schools.

Cutting the instrumental music budget in elementary schools could eventually eliminate the following activities in all Harford County schools:

1. Concert band.

2. Orchestra.

3. Jazz band.

4. Marching band.

5. Stage bands for plays.

What would your high school memories be like if there had been no music? The school system is the only place where many students will have the opportunity to learn these instruments. And they must learn them in elementary school; they won't want to play "Hot Cross Buns" when they are 13.

My wife and I benefited from instrumental music, as do two of our children. The program teaches music education and proficiency in an instrument. However, I believe the most important benefit of the program is that it teaches a child that with hard work and diligence, he or she can achieve a high level of success.

The system needs to look long and hard at other programs before cutting the instrumental music program.

Gary K. Businsky, Baltimore

Gun rights conundrum: protecting you from me

In the article "How guns wound up in wrong hands" (March 23), reporter Devon Spurgeon quotes convicted burglar Richard Polidore, who said he bought a gun for home protection because he was burglarized, as saying, "You supposedly got the right to bear arms in this country. The criminals have guns, but I don't."

Isn't it ironic that had the occupants of the homes Polidore burglarized exercised their rights to bear arms, he might not be alive today to protect his rights to bear arms.

Louise D. Collins, Baltimore

Can downed fighter reveal top secrets?

From the appearance of your picture of the downed F-117, it would seem that a lot of technical top-secret information could be obtained from its analysis. Wouldn't it make sense to invest a couple thousand bucks more to the $41 million in a self-destruct mechanism?

George B. Wroe, Glyndon

Taking animal cruelty lightly?

Much as it boggles the mind, one must conclude that Maryland legislators take dogfighting and animal cruelty lightly.

Less than two weeks before Baltimore County police broke up a large dogfighting ring in the Lochearn area, the House Judiciary Committee and then the full House savaged a bill that would have upgraded such brutal, bloody and degrading activity to a felony.

Cockfighting and dogfighting are outlawed in Maryland, but only as misdemeanors.

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