Today's Letters: We need to train more family physicians

Letters to the Editor
Published February 20, 2008

USF aims to build 200-bed hospital Feb. 14, story   

As a local family physician, I agree with Sen. Dennis Jones' recent assertion that Florida's health care system is suffering due to a lack of residency slots for medical students.

Florida is currently ranked 46th in the United States in available residency slots, and many medical students must leave our state for their respective residencies and often do not return to practice. Conversely, 75 percent of family medicine residents who graduate from one of the nine family medicine residencies in Florida remain to practice in the area in which they completed their residency.

I am the perfect example of a family medicine resident (originally from Ohio) who trained here at Bayfront Medical Center and decided that St. Petersburg would be my home and where I would choose to practice.

While Sen. Jones mentioned increasing residency slots for certain specialties, it is important to point out that in our state one of the most endangered specialties is also one of the most important - family medicine. Family physicians diagnose almost 90 percent of all patient problems and make up 58 percent of the physician population in isolated rural areas, where access to care is a critical issue. Most important, research has shown communities with a primary care-based health system have lower rates of mortality, use emergency departments and hospitals less, require fewer tests, use less medication and have higher patient satisfaction.

To improve our community's overall health and ensure better access to quality care, we must train more family physicians. We need to continue to allow our residency programs to flourish and call for more residency slots, especially family medicine residency slots, to be allocated to Florida in order to support Florida's health care system.

John A. Gross, M.D., board of directors, Florida Academy of Family Physicians, St. Petersburg

There are betterareas to investigate

I have great respect for both Sen. Arlen Specter and Rep. Henry Waxman. They represent both parties well and I think are both very fair, honorable, no-nonsense men. I think that they have both done a very good job in their oversight roles.

Recently, I've become concerned about the money and energy we are spending investigating sports. Marion Jones, Bill Belichick, Roger Clemens are certainly worth investigating; sports in general need to be cleaned up. But at what cost, at what distraction from really important, critical investigations? I'd love to be able to know for sure that the "home run king" didn't cheat. More important, I'd like to know that my elected government didn't blatantly lie to me about weapons of mass destruction and drag us knowingly into a war for reasons of their own.

How about investigating the poor or doctored intelligence that lead to the invasion of Iraq? Was it poor, incompetently produced data or was it manipulated? Shouldn't that be investigated? Shouldn't someone be held accountable? What about the billions squandered in "no-bid" contracts or the billions handed out by Paul Bremer's regime during the early occupation? Shouldn't these things be investigated?

There are so many issues from the last seven years of this administration screaming for an oversight investigation, I could spend the day listing them. Do we really need to spend another week watching Roger Clemens? Do we really want to have Arlen Specter and a committee watching six years of NFL films?

Jeff Cutting, Brandon

In need of defense

There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that forbids spying by sports teams on each other.

However there is this, from Amendment IV:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched ..."

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., would better fulfill his role in protecting and defending the Constitution by calling for hearings on the Bush administration for making a mockery of this amendment rather than distracting us with sports and entertainment.

Vis A. Liepkalns, Tampa

Downward economic spiral

President Bush and the Republican-dominated Federal Reserve Board have combined to fuel our economy with cheap money (low interest rates), cheap foreign goods, wartime spending, and a steady diet of tax cuts and business incentives. With the exporting of our manufacturing base by cheap-labor-chasing executives, the question arises about the sustainability of the remaining service- oriented economy.

Perhaps we can maintain our prosperity with ongoing and ever-increasing tax cuts and incentives, since ever-increasing debt seems to be acceptable to this administration. It appears that George Bush thinks that his tax cuts are the economic equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

The steady dose of cheap money, combined with creative mortgage bundling and weakened loan guidelines on the part of the banking industry, have resulted in the mortgage mess that we now have.

A negative savings rate and record credit card debt seem to fit well this mentality the administration promotes of spend now, a la the economic stimulus.

Hopefully the voters will recognize the enormity of all this and vote out of office next November all those who subscribe to these practices.

Lyle Hirschinger, Zephyrhills

Families locked out Feb. 14, commentary by Sen. Mel Martinez

Government's place

Just as the economy survived the dot.com collapse at the start of this century, it will survive the subprime mortgage market collapse without government interference.

Rather than writing ill-conceived opinion pieces, Sen. Martinez should be studying the U.S. Constitution to learn the proper role of the government.

R.J. McDarby, Valrico

Alligator may pay for dog's mistake Feb. 16, story

Not the dog's mistake

The headline on this story about the dog killed by an alligator at Al Lopez Park really frosted me. To contend that the alligator might end up paying for the "dog's mistake" is moronic. That unfortunate animal didn't make a mistake. It was just acting instinctively, as was the alligator that killed it.

However, the dog's owner chose to ignore posted signs reminding park visitors to keep their canines leashed. In fact, there is a dog run at that same park where she could (and should) have let her pet run free. The "mistake" was not the dog's, and now thanks to its irresponsible owner yet another creature is going to have to die needlessly.

Joe McColloch, Tampa