State health system gives careful scrutiny to any...


February 22, 2002

State health system gives careful scrutiny to any patient's death

Recent Sun articles have failed to represent our commitment to vulnerable individuals in state-operated facilities, and have criticized our investigative process ("Progress on health probes promised," Feb. 13, and "A mother still asks why son died," Feb. 12).

But the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene takes the death of any individual seriously. Regulatory oversight of our facilities includes both public and private scrutiny, and at least six entities are involved in ensuring that the death of any individual under our care is thoroughly investigated.

These organizations include the Office of Health Care Quality, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Mortality Review Committee and the department's Resident Grievance System. The Maryland Disability Law Center, an independent organization, is also notified of all deaths. And any allegation of criminal wrongdoing is immediately reported to state or local police.

Each of these entities brings a different perspective to the critical task of protecting individuals in our care, and ensuring any deficient practice is identified and appropriately handled.

But readers can be assured that the department is committed to doing what is right for the citizens of Maryland.

Dr. Georges C. Benjamin


The writer is secretary of Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Spurning huge tax cuts leaves Maryland facing less red ink

Yes, Maryland is facing a budget shortfall, as is every state as a result of the Bush recession ("Maryland needs tax study this year," editorial, Feb. 14).

But the situation is much, much worse in other states, including New Jersey and Virginia, whose Republican governors in the 1990s enacted huge tax cuts to benefit the wealthy that have put their states in terrible financial straits.

Luckily, in 1994, Maryland rejected the supply-side policies of Ellen Sauerbrey, whose proposed 24 percent pro-wealthy tax cut would have put Maryland in the same mess as New Jersey and Virginia.

We should remember this in November when "big-tax-cut-at-all-costs" Republicans such as Ms. Sauerbrey and Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich may again be on the ballot.

Vincent DeMarco


Redistricting plan extends Glendening's shady legacy

Thanks for The Sun's excellent and revealing rendition of the Glendening-administered redistricting plan for Maryland ("Glendening's Balkanization of Maryland," editorial, Feb. 17).

The obvious political self-interest of Gov. Parris N. Glendening never ceases to amaze me. From padded union contracts for the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to intimidation plays for the job of chancellor of the University System of Maryland, Mr. Glendening's legacy will be rife with colorful and disgraceful stories of how our state sadly has been duped by one of the most cunning politicians of our time.

Many of us who are older will not suffer these insults much longer, but move elsewhere in search of a tinge of honesty in our state government.

Frank O'Keefe


State shouldn't emulate morality of a murderer

The father of a murdered child recently wrote in support of the death penalty ("Death penalty brings lives to a merciful, just end," letters, Feb. 16). It is hard to imagine his pain, and my heart goes out to him and his family.

However, in arguing for government execution, he asked rhetorically "Did the killer hesitate? Did the killer show mercy?" If the killer didn't, why should we, went his argument.

The response is simple - because it is the killer's lack of mercy and lack of compassion that we condemn. Do we allow a killer's morality to determine ours?

Dan Shemer


We need to be told how to react to terrorist threats

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the FBI have urged us to maintain the "highest state of alert" and warned of a possible terrorist attack "on or around Feb. 12." In earlier messages we were told that future attacks could be worse than what happened Sept. 11.

It is good to be reminded often of what the terrorists may do. It is time now to tell us what we should do if they carry out any of their threats.

William H. Kelz


Focus on stopping felons, not restoring their rights

In a culture that glorifies the thug lifestyle, perhaps the Rev. Curtis Jones, co-chairman of BUILD, should concentrate on keeping people from becoming felons who lose the right to vote ("Senate panel considers ex-felons' right to vote," Feb. 8). Then he wouldn't have to spend time trying to restore their right to vote.

People need to take responsibility and live up to the standards America sets, instead of expecting the government to lower the standards when they are not achieved.

Rick Singer


If ex-felons can't vote, why do they pay taxes?

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