Letters To The Editor


August 19, 2008

Baby boomers will demand care

As The Sun has noted, we're beginning to feel the impact of an aging baby boom generation ("Senior population soars," Aug. 7). Thanks to medical advances, seniors are living longer, more active lives.

But aging boomers require more services from hospitals and health care practitioners. And health professionals are in increasingly short supply.

In less than a decade, we could face a nursing shortage of 10,000. And the state is faced with a particular lack of primary care physicians and severe shortages in many other medical specialties ("Family doctors called scarce," Aug. 12).

Primary care physicians and nurses will play critical roles as we develop a new care model for managing disease - especially chronic disease - among Maryland's growing population of seniors.

We must take steps now to attract more nursing faculty to schools so that we can educate significantly more nurses.

We also need to have the two task forces now developing recommendations for lawmakers identify concrete steps to make Maryland more attractive for physicians and encourage more doctors to practice primary care medicine.

Maryland hospitals are prepared to lead a combined effort - involving hospitals, educators, regulators and state legislators - to achieve this formidable task.

The baby boom generation will expect no less.

Carmela Coyle, Elkridge

The writer is president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association.

Helping babies survive, thrive

It is troubling that a baby born in Croatia or Cuba is more likely to survive to age 1 than a baby born in Maryland ("Maryland infant deaths high," Aug. 7). Despite our wealth, education and medicine, Maryland's babies are dying needlessly.

Indeed, in Anne Arundel County, the average black infant mortality rates (2003-2007) were 16 per 1,000 live births, which is higher than the rate for both the state and the city of Baltimore.

From the work of Anne Arundel County's Healthy Babies Coalition, I know that preventing infant deaths is complicated.

While health coverage alone is not enough, Maryland's recent expansion of Medicaid coverage to more low-income adults will help. But we must do more.

The state will need to extend Medicaid to all poor adults, streamline the enrollment process and hold Medicaid managed care organizations to their performance obligations.

Poor women, many of whom have untreated medical problems, often do not become eligible for Medicaid until they become pregnant. But women whose health is compromised by years without health insurance are at greater risk of delivering preterm or low-birthweight babies, which is a leading cause of infant death.

And it often takes at least six weeks before a pregnant woman applying for Medicaid can see an obstetrician. Beginning prenatal care in the first trimester is a worldwide obstetric standard, but Medicaid often fails to meet that test.

A baby's death is a profound loss to family, friends and the community. When the death is preventable, it signals our collective failure.

It is time Maryland babies get what they need to survive and thrive.

Charlestine R. Fairley, Annapolis

The writer is the chairwoman of the Anne Arundel County Healthy Babies Coalition.

Executives enriched at public's expense?

Something is radically wrong in this city, this state and this society when four of the top-paid eight executives in the Baltimore area are employees of Constellation Energy Group, and they made a combined total in 2007 of more than $40 million, while the Maryland Energy Assistance Program scrambles to help the thousands of low-income, retired and disabled Marylanders pay their utility bills ("Top-paid executives," Aug. 17).

It is time to rein in corporate greed, especially where it has a stranglehold on one of the most basic needs people have after shelter - utilities.

Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. needs to be turned back into a regulated public utility.

Karen Hening-Speedone, Baltimore

Is Russia testing American resolve?

Is Russia testing the United States with its intervention in Georgia ("Russia adds to its forces in Georgia," Aug. 18)?

Let's hope and pray this is not the case. But there is a similarity between this Russian offensive and the events of the late 1930s when Adolf Hitler began his campaign of expansion first in the Ruhr Valley and then in the Sudetenland, Austria and Poland.

Does Mr. Putin think Americans have had it with war and will bargain for peace at any price, as much of the world believed it could do in 1939??

That's something to think about, especially for the incoming U.S. president.

Richard L. Lelonek, Baltimore

Don't wait to fight radical regimes

The world's Islamic radicals preach world conquest and mean to achieve it. And now a new imperial Mother Russia has emerged from the ruins of the Soviet Union as Russia's leader, Vladimir V. Putin, has demonstrated Russia's intent to retake the lands that seceded from the Soviet Union when it collapsed by invading Georgia ("Russia adds to its forces in Georgia," Aug. 18).

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