LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Emergency-room specialists deserve litigation protection

May 9, 2008

Orlando Sentinel–May 09, 2008

Emergency-room specialists deserve litigation protection

The Florida College of Emergency Physicians applauds Gov. Crist’s efforts to increase access to medical care for millions of Floridians through the Cover Florida Plan (“Health-cost estimates for uninsured OK’d in House,” April 30). As emergency physicians, we are acutely aware that while Floridians have the potential to receive the finest medical care anywhere, if they do not have access to it, it might as well not even be there.

Currently, regardless of insurance status or comprehensiveness of coverage, many Floridians are denied access to the best care available because of the current shortage of specialists available to cover emergency services. Surveys indicate that the primary reason for this shortage is the exponential increase in risk of liability a specialist exposes him/herself to when taking an emergency call. Federal and state laws mandate that every emergency patient who enters an emergency department must be treated. Specialists, however, are reluctant to take on the additional responsibility of emergency care, especially when doing so exposes them to such a high risk of liability.

The issue of the unavailability of on-call specialists is a complex one, but the Florida College of Emergency Physicians has proposed a solution to one part of the issue by asking the Legislature to extend sovereign immunity to those specialists who come to the emergency department. Acting essentially as agents of the state by providing a state-mandated service, the state would reduce significantly the risk of liability for physicians providing needed emergency care. For those who fear this would protect physicians who are grossly negligent in providing care, rest assured it would not. Peer review within the hospital and retribution by the state Board of Medicine will help ensure patient safety.

Again, we strongly support Gov. Crist’s effort to remove access to medical-care barriers for Florida’s 3.8 million uninsured by the Cover Florida Plan. As the physicians treating these patients in the emergency departments across our state, we know that this plan alone is not enough to help those patients who need specialty care. We urge the Legislature and the governor to help us work to remove this barrier as well.


President, Florida College of Emergency Physicians


Boyd Street closure has improved quality of life

The Pineapple Park Neighborhood Association has been working for some years to get the Boyd Street crossing closed. The neighborhood has been inundated with commuters cutting through. Some traffic control has been installed with no effect other than to create even more noise.

I live on Ardmore Road. Commuters zoom up and down the street 24/7 with little regard for speed or courtesy. They litter our yards, hit our cars, ignore pedestrians, play loud music and have loud exhaust systems. Trucks, which are prohibited, also cut through the neighborhood and weigh so much that they vibrate houses and windows.

Our homes were not designed for off-street parking, and our streets were not built for this volume of traffic. Our parked cars bottle traffic. On one occasion, a driver jumped the curb and killed my neighbor’s dog. It could have been a parent walking with a toddler.

Pineapple Park residents are seeking safety and a normal expectation for the quality of living that our neighborhood was designed for. A list of complaints, experiences and circumstances has compelled the majority of residents to join together to make the Boyd Street closing a reality. Through advertised meetings and hand-delivered newsletters, all residents have been invited to participate.

The consensus of the past months of the road closure is overwhelming approval and delight at our newfound peaceful streets and atmosphere. Emergency vehicles have been tested and are in no way compromised. Crime has been reduced. It is anticipated that property values ultimately will benefit.

This is a residential neighborhood and should not be compromised by commuters. The small disadvantage of the closure has been far outweighed by the wonderful transformation of our whole neighborhood.


West Palm Beach

McCain is clueless when it comes to health care

The April 30 article “McCain touts tax credits for health care” proves that Sen. McCain intends to be as clueless a president as the one he hopes to replace. His idea of a market-driven plan is to create competition among insurers. Insurance companies compete like the oil and gas companies. When you control the supply, you can control the demand and your bottom line.

Remember the Republican deregulation of the savings and loans, then the airlines, then the mortgage lenders? That all worked well, didn’t it?

He wants to get away from employer-based coverage? Why isn’t the media asking him if he intends to drop out of his taxpayer-supported congressional health plan?

Sen. McCain is not just a flip-flopper but a hypocrite of the first order. Be prepared for Bush III if this man is elected.


Boynton Beach

New construction will only add to water woes

Want to conserve water in Boynton Beach (“Drought whets appetite for conservation,” May 4)?

Well, let’s start with all the building that is going on here from Old Boynton Road to Gateway Boulevard. And how about the Towers on Boynton Beach Boulevard and the Intracoastal? Latest is the monstrosity at Boynton Beach Boulevard and Federal Highway. Just wait until all the showers and toilets, dishwashers and washing machines get used in these places.

Water will dry up.

Current residents are asked to conserve and yet the powers-that-be continue to aggravate the situation. Let us admit that we have reached our saturation point and cut back on so-called “enhancement.” This coming from a concerned citizen seeking your follow-up on these conditions.


Boynton Beach

New school in Southbend bad for variety of reasons

The residents of Southbend continue to oppose the building of a new school in our neighborhood. The petition in objection to the school continues to grow and numbers more than 300 signatures. The objections to building on this property include increased traffic on Southbend Boulevard, and the possibility of using eminent domain infuriates others. In addition, a recent search shows there are 124 sexual offenders within a 5-mile radius of this school site.

Is this where Port St. Lucie families wish to send their children? With the recent cuts to the budget, where will the money come from to build such a massive school? Is it wise to build a school along narrow streets, where there is one lane in and one lane out of Southbend Boulevard, where traffic and speeders will put children at risk?

Another concern is the impact to our wetland area on this proposed site. What will happen to our wildlife and plant life with the added traffic and exhaust? Are we not trying to preserve the environment and make it a better place to live? The Clean Water Act protects our wetlands, which are “critically necessary to the healthy functioning of the overall ecosystem,” according to the National Resources Defense Council. Yet our officials will not listen to our pleas to protect this land and its inhabitants. The gopher tortoise is at risk. There are large cat footprints in the sand, possibly those of a Florida panther. The sandhill cranes are out and about in this area. Does every piece of available land need to be built on?

I am saddened to think so.

I wish our city, county and school board would step back and realize that these are all part of the breathtaking sights that make Florida a wonderful place to live. A local school might be a nice idea, but traffic and safety are issues that need to be scrutinized for the children’s sake.


Port St. Lucie

Jews, don’t follow Wexler blindly toward Obama

In your April 27 article, “GOP points to Lieberman’s backing, voters’ reservations about Obama,” Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Delray Beach, was quoted as saying, “I’m quite confident that, when the Jewish community in Florida gets to know Barack Obama, when he talks about his steadfast support for Israel, he will be a very attractive candidate.” And so these people who question Sen. Obama’s feelings have merely to look to Rep. Wexler, and he will lead them blindly toward the light. How so?

Has anyone been able to ask Rep. Wexler about his relationship with the Clintons? Why he isn’t supporting her? Why would he support a man who attended Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March? A man whose church gave an award to Mr. Farrakhan? A man who has ties to Syrian-born Antoin Rezko? Does this sound like someone who will support Israel? Does this sound like someone you should follow blindly because your representative says so?

Let Rep. Wexler know that he will not be followed blindly.


Boynton Beach

Obama has earned DNC’s nomination over Clinton

I’m starting to believe some of what Ralph Nader has been saying. There is not much difference between the two major political parties. Especially with the way President Bush and Hillary Clinton get their message out. Just keep saying the same thing over and over again and eventually people might start to believe it.

Sen. Clinton says she should be the nominee because she’s winning in all the important places and Barack Obama “can’t close the deal.” Sen. Clinton won her “home” state of Arkansas with more than 60 percent of the vote, and her other “home” state of New York with 57 percent. But she only won California with 51 percent and Michigan, where she ran unopposed, with 55 percent. Out of the 30 races Sen. Obama has won, 18 were with more than 60 percent of the vote. That’s more contests than Sen. Clinton has won combined.

Sen. Clinton has never led this race. She came in third in Iowa and has remained behind. So who should be the Democratic Party’s nominee? The person in the lead? Or the one who says she is winning?


Palm Beach Gardens

Obama’s ideas admirable, but he’s not being realistic

Barack Obama is being touted as a great healer and unifier for our nation. He presents himself as a veritable messiah who will finally bring the races together while curing the ills of the disadvantaged classes with better education, health care and job opportunities. He promises the rearrangement of the tax structure to benefit the middle class and punish large corporations for excessive profit. He also advocates ending the Iraq war, promoting peace and international cooperation.

With such a lofty agenda, it is not surprising that Sen. Obama is winning the hearts and minds of so many people eager to be led down the garden path by an artful pied piper. While his objectives are admirable, what he fails to take into account is reality. If he were elected, would he not be guilty of perpetuating empty political promises and “embittering” voters?


North Palm Beach