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letters to the editor for 8/22

August 22, 2002

Stop the bleeding in West Virginia's health system



To the editor:

With sadness and concern I just received a letter from my colleague Dr. Colin Iosso, neurologist in Martinsburg, W.Va., announcing that he will be leaving his practice and relocating to South Carolina effective Oct. 1. Dr. Iosso is a Princeton graduate with impeccable credentials and expertise. He sited the availability and affordability of medical liability insurance, with no improvement or serious relief in sight as the reason for his relocation.

During the past few months I have received similar letters or announcements from various excellent physicians either relocating or forced to retire for the same reasons.

To mention a few that come to mind there is Dr. Yi, lung specialist; Dr. Urna Eyyunni, ear, nose and throat specialist; Dr. Ram Eyyunni, general surgeon; and lately Dr. Betty Agnir and Dr. Orlando Agnir, internists who both cared for patients with distinction in the Eastern Panhandle for many years.

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To add insult to injury, many physicians in the Eastern Panhandle were obliged to limit or restrict their practices because of the malpractice liability issues.

Dr. Leung just announced that he will no longer deliver babies and will restrict his practice to gynecology. Dr. Cincinnati and Dr. Foster, orthopaedic surgeons with good spinal-surgery credentials, stopped doing spinal surgery a few months ago, as they could no longer afford medical liability insurance for spinal surgery. And the bleeding continues.

Health care availability in West Virginia is in crisis and we must admit that a crisis exists to be able to face it. Recent West Virginia legislators band-aid remedies do not seem to be working, and BRIM (West Virginia sponsored program for medical liability insurance) has outrageous premiums and escalating deficit. BRIM is expected to further increase medical liability premiums in November 2002.

I urge the leaders of the community, the members of the Chamber of Commerce, together with the members of the board of directors of the local hospitals in the eastern panhandle to call on our federal powerful senators, the governor, and leader of the senate and house of West Virginia for an emergency conference to discuss the crisis openly, and invite all parties concerned to put forward effective solutions to alleviate the medical liability situation and guarantee the availability of quality health care services for the people of West Virginia.

Maybe, just maybe, somebody would be able to stop the bleeding before the health care services body succumbs in West Virginia.

S. Edward Said, M.D.

Martinsburg, W.Va.




Jail officers' complaints unfounded



To the editor:

I am writing in response to the recent article in The Daily Mail concerning the Washington County Detention Center employees.

Deputy Linda Weicht's position of a lack of support for the Washington County Detention Center Correctional Officers by Sheriff Mades is, in my opinion, without substance.

I have been the Chair of the Hagerstown Community College Administration of Justice (ADJ) Advisory Committee for two years and a member of the committee since Sheriff Mades was asked to serve on the committee.

During this time I have always found him to be supportive of the correctional officers. When he has lectured to my ADJ classes, he always speaks of a career with the Sheriff's office in both Law Enforcement and Corrections. During one of the classes last years, Sheriff Mades told the class that he has found that correctional officers who have become patrol deputies are some of the best deputies in the patrol division.

As for Sheriff Mades' lack of experience as a correctional officer and its effect on his management of the county jail, we are speaking of different job skills. Administrative and management skills for the sheriff are not the same as they are for a correctional officer.

The sheriff deals with the direction of his department, setting the standards and acquiring the resources to accomplish their mission. I submit that the Washington County Detention Center's being accredited by the Maryland Commission on Correctional Standards and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care is recognition of Sheriff Mades' administrative and management skills of the detention center. The leadership skills he developed as a state police supervisor have clearly transferred to his position as sheriff and these skills have benefited the sheriff's office and the citizens of Washington County.

If there are morale problems with the correctional officers, the detention center warden must work with his supervisory staff to identify the issues and work with the sheriff and the commissioners on solving the problems.

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