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Letters to the Editor

November 01, 1999

Nursing assistants need better wages

To the editor:

This letter is in reference to the article on the nursing shortage. I've been a nursing assistant for 15 years, and for as long as I can remember there has been a shortage. Yes the shortage is going to get worse. Why? Because health care facilities don't want to pay enough money.

I make $9 an hour. I get no benefits. If I want benefits I will make about $8 per hour. This is what a C.N.A.'s job is all about. Certified Nursing Assistants have to go through training; they even have to pass a state board exam. A C.N.A. has to clean up bowel movements, vomit, urine and blood and they are exposed to bloodborne and airborne pathogens. They are subject to mental and physical abuse. The C.N.A.'s job is very stressful - nevertheless, 75 percent of the time they work short-staffed and are still required to do the same job in a timely manner.

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Health care facilities are not going to go broke; a resident is paying $1,800 to $4,000 per month for a room, and this does not include oxygen, rehabilitation, catheters or telfa pads.

I wish the newspaper would talk to the people who get out on the floor and do the job. We could tell the administration what would attract new employees and what would keep old ones interested in staying longer. Bottom line, it's all about better pay and benefits. Sign-on bonuses are a good idea. What about $10 or $12 per hour and good benefits and making work on the weekends worth a person's while?

No one wants to work weekends. How about a bonus when asked to work short? How about a weekend differential, paid supper or lunch on the weekends, or how about providing the weekend meal for employees? C.N.A.s are professionals just like the people in administration. They are taking care of the community's elderly. The elderly people in this community are worth good care and experienced C.N.A.s are worth more than $7 or $8 per hour.

L.J. Melody

Hagerstown

Unsafe scales

To the editor:

I am a professional truck driver of 14 years. I travel as a driver, around the Washington, Baltimore and Richmond areas. I was a member of Maryland Motor Truck Association Speakers Team for four years. I spoke at a Maryland Legislature Breakfast on behalf of "Sharing the Road With Trucks" on our local highways. I drive at least 100,000 miles a year within 260 mile radius of my home terminal.

Please let me share some major concerns of mine with you, regarding the Maryland truck scales on I-270. They are being run in a manner in which is seriously unsafe! I find this very disturbing, since they are run by the Maryland State Police. It is their duty to promote safety no matter what the circumstance!

First, the scales are built at the bottom of two hills. The south-bound truck traffic comes off a hill, goes around a curve, then enters an entrance ramp to enter the scales. The I-270 scale house (south-side) keeps the "weight lane" open, very rarely using the bypass lane," even when truck traffic backs up past the entrance ramp into the right lane of traffic. Morning commuter traffic comes off the hill south-bound, goes around the curve and there are trucks sitting in the right lane of traffic. They are in the travel lane, because the scales are backed up.

It is never, under any circumstance, acceptable to have truck traffic backed up on the right lane, ramp of shoulder. I have had three close calls myself, almost getting rear-ended. I do not understand why the scale house does not use the bypass lane.

Once you do finally do get weighed on the south scales, you ought to have to try to merge with morning commuter traffic - uphill...loaded...with almost no merge area! The entire situation is extremely unsafe!

May I remind you, when the state proposed to build this set of scales, I was present at a meeting with the Trucking Association and various other transportation companies, along with the state. Maryland officials stated that the scales would not be open for rush hour.

If the state is concerned about truck safety on the road, then why do they insist on continuing this unsafe manner at the scales on I-270?

By the way, on the north-bound side they stop traffic with D.O.T. cadets almost every day. I have waited as long as eight minutes while they have one particular truck on the scales. In the meantime traffic backs up past the entrance ramp and into tbe right travel lane. If the scales would like a particular truck to check or inspect, they should flash the "go around back" light.

I abide by the law. I enter the scales to be weighed. But when my life and the lives of other motorists are in danger due to the negligent way the I-270 scales are being run, should I? I do not understand why the Maryland State Police are allowed to put safety issues aside. Is it all for the dollar?

Please, if you have any questions, maybe you ought to ride with me or take a ride to the scales. Watch them for awhile! The morning on the south side, between 4 and 9 a.m. and the north side between 4 and 6 p.m.

Lynn A. Hurlbrink

Keedysville

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