Palliative care seeks to extend and improve life
I was pleasantly surprised to see an article on palliative care so prominently presented in the Dec. 24 paper. Dr. Todd Cote and others gave an excellent summary of what palliative care is and how much the service can help patients. I take exception only to his comment that palliative care clinics are rare in the U.S.
I am the medical director of St. Claire Palliative Care, which is in Morehead, 70 miles east of Lexington. We have had an active and vibrant palliative care service supported by the St. Claire Regional Hospital since 2003 and see patients in our freestanding clinic, in the hospital, in longterm care facilities and, most unusual, at home. Like many other discrepancies between rural and urban health, our resources are stretched to provide this type of care to patients in eight counties. But with time and St. Claire's unwavering support, nearly every physician in our hospital and community makes referrals to us.
A perceptive medical student recently asked me if "life-limiting illness" meant limits on the length of life or limits on the activities of living. I explained that the criterion for a palliative care referral was a diagnosis that could threaten or shorten life. Then I reflected on some of our patients who are still alive after almost nine years. Palliative care, provided by specialists or the patient's primary care professional, is about treating both kinds of limits and hopefully results in more patient control and improved quality of life.
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Ann Colbert, MD
St. Claire Palliative CareMorehead
Who's the true RINO?
I agree with the first two paragraphs of Mica Sims' Dec. 11 opinion piece about opportunities to move Kentucky in a new job-creating, more tax-friendly direction. However, I completely disagree with her assertion that the hindrance to those goals is state Senate President David Williams. In fact, it's his leadership which will continue to be of benefit toward reaching those goals.
The problem with her argument begins with her premise of "conservative." Many Tea Party/Republicans believe Williams is certainly conservative and are happy with his holding the line in the Senate against the excessive spending attempts of the Democratic-controlled House. Gov. Steve Beshear claimed credit for saving $1 billion on the budget, but in truth, the budget originated in the Republican Senate due largely to Williams' leadership.
Sims and a few others seem to label Republicans who don't line up with their more Libertarian views as RINOs, or Republicans In Name Only. While she may call herself Republican, it would seem that since she didn't back all the Republican candidates in the general election, she is actually the RINO.
The Kentucky Libertarian Party's Web site cautions against jumping on the Republican bandwagon, however some see the making of the Republican Party into what they view as "conservative" as an opportunity.
Moreover, the Libertarian approach doesn't always match up with what most consider family values. Libertarians favor legalizing drugs, for example, something most Republicans and Kentuckians oppose.
I consider myself Tea Party and Republican, but I didn't sign up for that stuff.
If you believe in Santa ...
As a commercial driver, I traveled to Knoxville and Chattanooga and returned daily during the week of Scott Sloan's Dec. 23 article about the sudden spike in gasoline prices.
A Speedway spokesman offered increased crude prices as a reason for the spike. Two points:
First, the oil industry has said crude prices do not affect the retail price of gasoline or diesel for about 30 days. Second, about 150 miles to the south, prices remained the same; they did not increase by 40-plus cents a gallon as in the Lexington area.
Also not ringing true were the explanations of economic professor Matt Lewis of Ohio States University. Lewis said the Lexington market has highly competitive gas stations that attempt to undercut one another. He said these stations slowly cut prices until they may be selling gas for less than wholesale costs.
Seriously? Do the people who determine the retail cost of gasoline regularly miss the mark by that much, or do they just work parttime? Maybe their employers should re-evaluate their performance and drop their salaries by "intervals" until they are more accurate and can provide more stable fuel prices.
Lewis said stations in the Tennessee area are, "trying not to undercut each other so much and the prices are more stable." Perhaps companies in Central Kentucky should recruit some of these folks.
I found it ironic that this happened during the holiday season, because if you believe this rhetoric, surely, you must believe in Santa Claus as well.
EPA's a grinch
While we were out shopping, struggling to find that perfect last-minute Christmas gift, the Environmental Protection Agency announced on Dec. 22 what it is giving us. And, unlike the commercial about some product that keeps on giving, the EPA gift keeps on taking. For it involves the requirement that every coal-and oil-fired power plant in this nation must reduce emissions in the next three or four years to no more than the cleanest 12 percent of plants currently producing electricity.
So what, you ask. Here in Eastern Kentucky, our power plant will continue to run on coal, which is good for our overall economy, but our electric bills will increase 31 percent by the middle of 2016, due to the addition of scrubbers to reduce air pollution. The readers of the Herald-Leader will face a similar situation; this will be devastating to many people in America.
So what can be done? Coal is presently supplying 45 percent of this nation's power. We need to keep it that way. The current administration is out of touch with we, the people. A change in 2012 may be what we need.
John F. Enyart
True holiday spirit
A Dec. 16 article told of a Michigan lady paying off layaways at her local Kmart and leaving a penny balance. The photo with the article was of a young father of three children, who burst into tears when this was done for him. I am sure lots of people in Central Kentucky, like myself, thought "I wish I could do that this next week."
Well, a few days later, when my niece called to get her balance at the Nicholasville Road Kmart, she was told it was a penny.
A special thank-you to whoever did this thoughtful, generous deed; it made my niece's Christmas. She was overwhelmed and speechless that this happened to her. I am sure you made a lot of other people happy this Christmas season, and to you I wish the very best for 2012.
If you don't think meth labs are a problem, just ask the five Scott County sheriffs deputies and a state trooper who were injured during a raid Dec. 22.
State Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London, has the best solution. Making pseudoephedrine prescription-only will put the meth-makers out of business.
Paul all wrong on EPA
I have occasionally defended some of Sen. Rand Paul's positions on foreign policy because I feel we need to stop trying to police the entire world and Paul seems to agree. I recently received a letter from his office about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, however, that chilled me to the bone.
Paul has proposed to cut the budget of the EPA from $7.939 billion to $3.238 billion, which he claims would be "a 29 percent cut." The math is faulty. His cut would be 59 percent, not 29 percent. Slashing the EPA's budget that radically would cripple the agency's ability to protect human health and the environment.
His letter went on to say, "I want to strip away the powers of the administrative state and lift the burden of regulatory red tape currently affecting many Americans." In many cases, however, the EPA's regulations are the only barriers holding back a flood of industrial pollution from corporations that want to minimize their environmental compliance costs.
Paul's proposals attacking the EPA and its regulations are ill considered and dangerous. In the interest of short-term profits, he is proposing to damage some of the most important policies that protect the health of all Americans as well as the natural environment. It is our bloated military and war-waging budget that urgently needs to be cut, not the budget of an essential agency that stands between us and environmental destruction.
Geoffrey M. Young