Letters to the editor, Jan. 23

Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 4:36 p.m.

Re-unifying Shands pediatric care is a good first move

As the Gainesville Sun recently reported, Shands Healthcare intends to re-unify pediatric care, moving services from Shands AGH back to Shands UF. Since 2006, the split in services has caused undue stress for patients, additional workload for pediatricians and a disincentive in the recruitment and retention of top pediatric specialists.

While the reunification announcement certainly is good news for any parent with a child, the move is just a step in the right direction. As I am painfully aware, much more needs to be done to improve pediatric care in Gainesville.

My three-year old son, Sebastian Ferrero, died last October during a scheduled routine test at Shands, as a consequence of a series of errors. My wife Luisa and I created the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation to honor our son and to serve as a catalyst for improvements to health care for children.

Since then, we have heard from many worried parents and pediatricians in the community who share our concerns and are ready to help.

We have identified immediate improvements that can be made at Shands UF, with the ultimate goal of building a state of the art childrens' facility dedicated entirely to pediatric care.

We have had very positive meetings with Shands and UF's administration and we are hopeful they will work with us to implement immediate improvements, including the creation of a medical safety office and the implementation of patient safety programs.

We have created a Web site, www.sebastianferrero.org, to raise awareness about our efforts and to solicit broad support.

We will never recover from the loss of our dear son, but it is my sincere hope that the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation will help improve pediatric care for other children. I commend UF and Shands for their decision to reunify pediatrics, but I encourage them to do more.

Horst Ferrero,


Don't forget loved ones in nursing homes

The holidays are an exciting time at the nursing home. But as the season ends, family visits diminish, and some cease altogether. With the new year upon us, this would be a great time to make a resolution to this year go visit your family, friends, and loved ones in nursing homes on a regular basis.

Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Set a schedule. Time management experts will tell you that if you don't pick a specific time to accomplish a task, it risks never getting done. Such it will be if you say to yourself, "I'll try to go visit Aunt Betty when I have some free time." Instead, say "Every Monday after work, I'll go right to the nursing home for a half hour before going home." Write it on your calendar.

2. Try to be relaxed. Even if you can't stay long, pull up a chair and sit down. This is very important because it establishes that you are a visitor, not just one of the many people (doctors, nurses, aides) that pass through the room each day.

Try not to look at your watch constantly. Speak a little slower, and maybe a little louder. When it's time for you to go, there's no need to apologize, just ask if you can continue the conversation next time.

3. Don't "judge" your visits. You don't need to have anything particularly inspiring to talk about. Just show up. Remember that there are no "uncomfortable silences" at the nursing home. Many of the residents have no one to talk to all day - so your mere presence makes a difference.

If you need any help getting started visiting a nursing home, check out the Friends Across the Ages Web site at www.acrosstheages.org.

Steve and Allison Blay,


Friends Across the Ages Nursing home outreach


Raising the local gas tax has a cumulative effect

I didn't have the opportunity to vote myself a five-cent per gallon gasoline tax increase. The result of this has caused locally delivered goods and services to also increase in price. This has the effect of raising the amount of sales tax collected.

The county commission's decision to raise a gas tax in times of record oil prices is heartless. Only the local government benefits.

I do have an opportunity to reduce my property taxes. Maybe that will be enough to offset the added tax burden placed on me by my local representatives. Believe me, I will vote yes on Amendment One.

Morris Colbert,


Criticism of Medicare plans isn't warranted

With all due respect to Marian Lewis (Dec. 29), a senior citizen and a licensed insurance agent, I had a hard time understanding her extremely negative view of Medicare Advantage Plans given the lack of supporting information.

Her reference to an isolated case in Jamaica, NY, (as shown on "Good Morning America") ignores the fact that the primary goal of all Medicare Advantage Programs is to reduce the burden of catastrophic medical expenses due to hospitalization and the 20 percent doctor bill due following any medical procedure for seniors with Medicare Parts A and B only. For seniors with limited income who are unable or unqualified to obtain a Medicare Supplement, some of the Medicare Advantage programs on the market offer a great, cost effective alternative to "the 20 percent unknown."

Although it is true that all Medicare Advantage Plans are new to the country and some egregious errors have occurred, mostly from disreputable companies, this should not impugn the integrity, benevolent purpose or character of all insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage Plans. In my opinion the philosophy underlying these plans is spot on, and the system is on the right track.

Medicare and Social Security are in need of serious re-organization. However, it is irresponsible to cite one case along with such sweeping negative statements to criticize an entire class of programs designed to help America's senior citizens.

Eric Thoman,


Teach intelligent design in the proper setting

Ben Butler's letter of Jan. 9 incorrectly states that the "banning" of creationism is censorship. It is merely limiting the course material to science, rather than myth or belief.

The teaching of intelligent design in a science course is akin to requiring Buddhism be taught in Baptist Sunday School. It doesn't belong there, unless it is mentioned as a fallacy in the same sense as the flat earth theory or like belief.

Creationism is not science, but might be mentioned in a course in mythology or religion. It is fine to open minds to beliefs, in the proper setting, but a science class isn't it!

Harold Haskins,


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