Today's Letters: Panel will work hard to fill spot

Published April 5, 2007

Re: Time to grab control of examiner's office, March 25 editorial

I am chairman of Florida's Medical Examiners Commission, and I was referred to in this editorial. First, let me say that the Medical Examiners Commission is a nine-member panel where most of its members are appointed by the governor (some commission members have standing representation). This commission has certain disciplinary and regulatory oversight of the district medical examiners and the associate medical examiners, but no jurisdiction over other medical examiners' office employees, or any direct involvement in the day-to-day operation of a medical examiner's office.

Unlike what your editorial states, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement does not "oversee" this commission, but only provides administrative staff and funding for travel to its members for quarterly meetings.

Steven C. Cogswell, M.D., was recommended to fill the vacancy created by the departure of Valerie J. Rao, M.D., by a local search committee formed on July 1, 2003. He was subsequently nominated by the Medical Examiners Commission to the governor and received his gubernatorial appointment on July 22, 2004, which ran until July 1, 2006. As part of the commission's responsibility to consider the recommendation of a district medical examiner to the governor for his reappointment, we solicited information from his constituents early in 2006. From the state attorney, the public defender, all the sheriffs and police chiefs, the county commissions and organ procurement agencies in the entire five-county district, Dr. Cogswell received no unfavorable inputs. The single unfavorable comment came from a funeral home director who would not return Dr. Cogswell's calls that were made to find out why he voted in the negative.

Thus, Dr. Cogswell's name was subsequently forwarded to the governor, who reappointed him for another three-year term, scheduled to end June 30, 2009.

As you correctly reported in your editorial, I was, indeed, surprised to hear of Dr. Cogswell's abrupt resignation, but I offered to assist in the process of formulating an efficiently run medical examiner office, a duty that is not part of my official capacity as the chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission. I accepted State Attorney Brad King's request to become District 5's interim medical examiner (in addition to my other duties as chairman of the Medical Examiners Commission and as the district medical examiner in District 10) while a search committee is being formed. I have made several sweeping suggestions for what I believe will result in a radically improved office, emphasizing a clear chain-of-command delineation, as well as a clean and organized facility that is efficiently run.

The Medical Examiners Commission and its staff will work diligently with the local search committee in finding a viable candidate(s) to forward to the governor for his consideration for appointment to fill this vacancy.

Stephen J. Nelson, M.A., M.D., FCAP chairman, Medical Examiners Commission

Re: Soak your lawn, get socked April 3 story

More homes, more water use

It is easy as ABC

A. more houses built

B. more people

C. more water being used

This is the reason for more water being used. In the past I watered on my days, Tuesday and Saturday. I changed my shower heads to 1.5 gallons per minute. I have an Energy Star front-loading washing machine.

Yes, we are short on rainfall, but that's not the reason for using more water.

Just wait till they approve the proposed Hickory Hill subdivision. What will the water restrictions be then?

You can only put so many straws in a glass!

Bob Cooper, Spring Hill

Re: Where the rules rule, he's seen as scofflaw March 26 story

Rules are good for residents

I also live in Timber Pines retirement community and enjoy every minute of my life here. We have four golf courses, three of which we play for free, bocci courts, a woodshop, workout center, craft room, pool room, two swimming pools and tennis courts. Most of us in Timber Pines feel it's the best kept secret in Florida.

I, like Mr. Sullivan, served nine years in the Navy serving my country, and am very proud to have done so. Unlike Mr. Sullivan, I was not a fireman, but I did receive several citations for community service. Also unlike Mr. Sullivan, I don't feel my past gives me the right to violate the law, such as crossing over a double line, abusing other people, using foul language in public and breaking the rules of common courtesy.

I feel that the rules set by the board of directors in Timber Pines are for the good of all residents, and 99.9 percent of the people who reside here feel the same way.

Did your reporter ask Mr. Sullivan why he ran for a position to be on that board?

Charles E. Brown, Spring Hill

Re: Where the rules rule, he's seen as scofflaw March 26 story

Sullivan is free to go at any time

In regard to Michael Kruse's childish article and ill-conceived empathy with a misfit resident of Timber Pines, I am obliged to comment.

Yes, Mr. Kruse, we do have numbers: resident account numbers necessary for billing purposes for the services we receive in this beautiful community of some 6,000 residents, in which, by the way, we have a number of "porches" and several houses that are not tan. Does your mortgage holder, bank, medical provider, ad infinitum, know you by such an account number, or are you simply known to them as "Mike"?

As concerns Mr. Sullivan, we are all creatures of our own making, and if he chooses to feel like a "criminal," so be it. He is free to go at any time. We would all, I expect, be grateful for that decision.

Edward Ludwig, Spring Hill

Health work force has a vital role

Each year, the Florida Department of Health celebrates National Public Health Week and the dedicated professionals who make up our public health work force. This year it is April 2-8 and, as in past years, I wish to share exactly what public health is in our community.

Public health in Hernando County is children free of disease such as polio, hepatitis and diphtheria.

It is fully functioning private sewage disposal systems to ensure safe groundwater.

It is clean tanning and piercing salons. It is pharmacists, physicians, dentists and other health care professionals licensed to provide exceptional care. It is safe and properly handled food in our schools, child care facilities and other health care institutions.

It is RV parks, camps and mobile home communities that are free of environmental threats. It is healthy teeth and gums, healthy pregnancies and healthy relationships. It is fewer preventable injuries and better disease management. It is proper nutrition for moms and babies.

Public health is vital information about the county's birth and death rates. It is family preparedness in the event of a public health threat. It is a decrease in exposure to contagious disease. It is healthy, active schoolchildren. It is education on healthy lifestyle choices, family planning and disease prevention. It is the family doctor who reaches out to those left behind without insurance. It is a nurse with a compassionate heart and caring hands.

Public health is all of these things and so much more. On behalf of your public health team at the Hernando County Health Department, thank you and the residents of our community for your support in making our county a healthy, safe place to live.

Elizabeth A. Callaghan, MS, LD, administrator/CEO

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