Letters to the Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR, Dec. 5, 2001

Health care

Allow health care competition

I am writing this letter in response to the headline in your Nov. 28 article, “Audit results in clinic closure,” and the medical monopoly in Island County.

The state is supposed to protect its citizens from monopolies, not perpetuate them. The Washington State Auditor stated that North Whidbey Physicians Clinic “inappropriately opened the clinic outside of its boundaries, a COMPETITIVE (my caps) environment was created.” No competition — no wonder health costs are so high.

I thought that the free enterprise system and the state were built on and supposed to support competition, not destroy competition.

These are two very fine and caring doctors, an asset to the community. I recently had surgery under Dr. Baldwin’s care. He gave me a choice of Whidbey General or Island Hospital. In fact, he first mentioned WGH. It was my decision to have it performed in Anacortes. Dr. Baldwin did not “push” me to Island Hospital.

It is my hope that bureaucrats in the state auditor’s office will reconsider their report and thus allow some degree of fair competition in our local health care system.

Dick Malone

Oak Harbor

Hospital board addresses issue

Last Wednesday’s article regarding North Whidbey Physicians Clinic was accurate for the most part in what was said. For the whole story to be understood however, additional information needs to be provided. Whidbey General Hospital recognizes the importance of having good physicians in the community, and that it is important for our community to have a choice of physicians.

Dr. Sweeney and Dr. Baldwin have good reputations and we would hope that they would stay and continue to provide services. If both Dr. Baldwin and Dr. Sweeney would like to continue in Oak Harbor, Whidbey General Hospital would welcome their staying. It would eliminate the need for the hospital to recruit new physicians. Within legal boundaries, Whidbey General Hospital would seriously consider providing the same type of start-up assistance for these two physicians, that we have done for other physicians that have started practices on Whidbey Island.

What Whidbey General Hospital Board of Commissioners objects to is the subsidization of these two physicians by another public hospital taxing district. This removes fairness and the ability for the hospital district to plan for prudent use of scarce health care resources. There is good reason that state law prohibits one public taxing district from establishing services within another taxing district without a prior agreement. To allow this only encourages an escalation of health care costs and “medical one-up-manship,” and jeopardizes stability of medical resources, especially in a rural or semi-rural community. For this reason, we as a board decided not to interfere with findings of the state auditor.

We agree that it is important for patients to have the physician and hospital of their choosing. Should Dr. Baldwin and/or Dr. Sweeney decide to leave the community, we understand that their patients will face decisions on where they will seek medical care. If they do leave, it is our commitment to the community to provide access and choice for medical and hospital services, and we will recruit additional physicians to fill this void.

Peter Borden

President, Board of Commissioners, Whidbey Island Public Hospital District

Clinics to make insurance choice

I am writing to clarify an article appearing in the News-Times on Nov. 17. This article reviewed the contract dispute between Group Health and many local physicians.

Whidbey Community Physicians will make its own independent decision whether or not to contract directly with Group Health. Skagit Health Associates does not and will not advise us on this choice.

Your article, while quoting me to that effect, can be read to imply that physicians across the area are standing together in an organized way to refuse Group Health individual contracts. This is a misimpression. In fact, each clinic, including our own, is now faced with making its own decision on the merits of Group Health’s offer.

Douglas G. Langrock, MD

Oak Harbor

Environment

Pesticides are not in God’s design

I am following with interest articles about trying to find safe alternatives to toxic pesticides on Whidbey Island. As someone who is extremely pesticide intolerant, I hope all will think about the consequences of chronic low level exposure to poisons and find safe alternatives.

One wonders how long it will take for common sense to prevail upon the issue of pesticides. It does not seem that man learns much from history.

When Vietnam vets tried to report illnesses from Agent Orange exposures, industries and science community that benefited from these products rejected this information. Eventually scientific research validated chemical injury from exposure to Agent Orange. When Gulf War vets reported illnesses from exposures to toxic substances, again industries and scientific community who benefit from production of products in their protocols rejected the complaints of the soldiers. Research by Robert Haley, M.D., and/or others has been out for several years indicating that soldier exposed to low levels of organophosphate pesticide and/or nerve gas agents like sarin were, in fact, intolerant of low level exposures. Researchers have known for years that not all people have the same level of tolerance to chemicals and that children are especially at risk because their tolerance is lowest.

Unfortunately, those who benefit from the present scientific system are unwilling to accept negative feedback about the failures in their system of synthetic product creations. Pesticides and many other synthetic creations of man were never a result of the natural order of things, or, a creation in God’s design. Pesticides are, by manmade, design created to interfere with life. Because someone does not die immediately from low levels of these poisons does not mean that they are not harming humans. It is accepted that Vietnam vets who were exposed to Agent Orange and developed diabetes and other illnesses developed them as a result of exposures to supposedly safe poisons.

Monsanto might like us to believe that their products like Roundup (glyphosphate) are safe as salt. Like Dursban and sarin, glyphosate has an orgnophosphate-like chemical structure. Although glyphosate is not made up of organophosphate esters responsible for inhibition of neurotoxin enzyme metabolism, Finnish research found that Roundup affects enzymes found in mammals. In rats, Roundup decreased the activity of two detoxification enzymes in the liver and an intestinal enzyme.” (Hietanen, E., K. Linnainmaa, and H. Vainio. 1983. Effects of phenoxy herbicides and glyphosate on the hepatic and intestinal biotransformation activities in the rat. Acta Pharma. et Toxicol. 53:103-112.). If you believe the that Agent Orange and orgnophosphate are safe, then you can use glyphosates. I won’t be surprised when it is eventually removed from the marketplace. I won’t be surprised when pesticides are replaced by safe alternatives!

Nazis created sarin in 1939 to solve their perceived problems. It is time we find less destructive alternatives to control our problems. If you want to breathe, eat and drink pesticides, that may be your choice. However, please allow those of us who cannot tolerate these poisons to have air, water and food that is not contaminated by them. It is time to find safe alternatives to the Nazi protocol.

Don Richard Paladin

Bellingham

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