Letters to the Editor


POSTED: Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Clinical lab techs vital to patient care

As a medical laboratorian working in the trenches last week, I feel it is my duty to ask all laboratorians of the United States to get off the bench and walk out of their place of employment. Unlike nurses, we are not members of a union. We are not on the front lines when someone visits a hospital. People who visit a medical laboratory do not completely understand what happens after their blood has been drawn. Most importantly, people are not aware of the extreme shortages laboratorians face.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that by 2016, the United States will need 92,000 additional medical technologists and technicians to replace retiring staff and fill newly created positions. With fewer than 4,700 individuals graduating each year from accredited training programs, including only 260 cytotechnologists, the number of graduates would need to increase more than threefold to meet the estimated demand. This means that clinical laboratories in the United States are facing a personnel shortage that is more severe than nurses or pharmacists.

Additionally, the Medicare program reimburses clinical diagnostic laboratory tests, according to a fee schedule created in 1984. This fee schedule has not been subject to a fundamental review since it was established. Significant technological advances in the delivery of clinical laboratory services in the last 25 years are not fully reflected in the current schedule. Unless the fee schedule is modernized, patient access to health care is at risk and shortages in qualified personnel are anticipated. The cost of clinical laboratory services has increased significantly in the last 25 years, but the clinical laboratory fee schedule has not been updated. Today, clinical laboratories are paid only 75 percent of the 1984 level when adjusted for inflation.

So I am begging all medical laboratorians to walk out right now. We have been severely under-appreciated in the health care setting. When physicians are trying to figure out a diagnosis, we give them well over 75 percent of the information needed. And yet we are overworked and underpaid when compared to nurses.

Rob Lahoe (MT, ASCP)

Pearl City

Swine flu risk low for Hawaii residents

I am amazed how much fear the “;swine flu”; has instilled in this country. I find it ridiculous that entire school districts would shut down for a week just because one student in one school within the district was suspected of having swine flu.

Although cases of the virus have been reported in 30 states there has only been one death: an infant who traveled to Mexico. According to the numerous doctors and CDC members commenting on the evolution of this pandemic, this strain of H1N1, although highly contagious, does not seem any deadlier than the normal flu.

Why is there all this anxiety? When you think about it, all the cases and deaths in Mexico could be attributed to the lack of health care accessible to the poorer population, substandard sanitation, cramped urbanized conditions, or a combination of all three.

At least we have a great advantage here in Hawaii: we are isolated in the middle of an ocean. Swine flu can only reach our islands if someone either has been to Mexico and contracted the virus or has come in contact with someone else with the virus and contracted it themselves, or directly through a pig.

Even though the risk of the swine flu coming to Hawaii is very low, this should serve as a remedial course in disease prevention. Remember what you learned in preschool: Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and stay home if you feel ill.

Rhoda Baria

Makawao, Maui

Roadways unsafe for walkers, cyclists

Kauai Path Inc. strongly urges Gov. Linda Lingle to sign Senate Bill 718—the Complete Streets bill. Passing the bill is an imperative step in creating healthy and vibrant communities in Hawaii.

Hawaii desperately needs to address transportation more holistically, by taking into consideration pedestrians and cyclists of all ages. Our current roadway systems are downright dangerous. We currently allocate only 1 percent to 2 percent of our ground transportation improvements budget to better cycling and pedestrian facilities, while bicyclists and pedestrians account for 13 percent of all roadway fatalities. A consequence of this disparity is that Hawaii has one of the highest rates of pedestrian deaths for those 65 and older in the nation. Sedentary car travel has its pitfalls as well. Hawaii struggles with childhood obesity and a whopping half of Hawaiian adults are overweight or obese.

Now is the time to pass the Complete Streets bill so that we can create a more sustainable future for Hawaii. The current climate of national paradigm shift and government stimulus is perfect for implementing complete streets. People are looking for healthy, low-cost transportation that doesn't rely on costly, carbon dioxide producing fossil fuel. Together we can work to achieve this goal by creating bike and pedestrian friendly communities, like many other states already have.

Lindsey Heddleston

On behalf of Kauai Path (Kauai residents working to preserve, protect and extend access islandwide via nonmotorized multi-use paths)

Hawaii meetings lure travelers to state

Wayne Shiroma's commentary, “;Surf, Sun—business”; (Star-Bulletin, May 3) is right on the mark.

Our beach boys, pool attendants, lifeguards and surf instructors take care of the families and friends that travel with meeting participants. We often hear guests tell us that meetings held in Hawaii are a magnet and that Hawaii draws many more participants than meetings held somewhere else.

The incentive groups (participants whose trip is sponsored by their company) spend the most time on the beach. And the hardcore business meetings usually get only a short break now and then. Yet all groups tell us that meetings in Hawaii are really special and they want to come back.

Bob Hampton

Waikiki Beach Activities

Dems squeezing out golden eggs

I know both houses of the Democratic-controlled Hawaii Legislature has the common sense to not kill the “;goose that laid the golden egg.”;

They just want to choke its neck and squeeze every last egg out of the poor bird.

Bruce Wong





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