February 15, 2013

Letters to the editor: Clinic's closure would cause care gap

Regarding Gov. LePage's plan to shut Clinical Services ("LePage's budget would cut off patients with special needs," Feb. 1):

click image to enlarge

Hygienist Torey Richard cleans the teeth of Rick Hagan, 45, of Bath, who has bipolar disorder, at Clinical Services. The state-funded Portland clinic also addresses the medical needs of the mentally disabled, many of whom would have trouble getting basic medical care anywhere else, a reader says.

2013 File Photo/John Ewing

I am a registered nurse and have worked for Clinical Services for more than 15 years. I have been retired for the past three years.

This clinic serves people whose diagnoses range from mild to profound mental retardation, and it provides far more than dental services for the mentally disabled.

Frequent services provided under IV sedation include much-needed medical services, such as physical exams, blood tests, immunizations, Pap smears, breast exams, endometrial biopsies, skin biopsies, sterile urinalysis, ear wax removal, etc. These services are done at the order and request of the patient's primary physicians because there is no way they could be performed in their offices.

These patients should be entitled to the same diagnostic procedures available to the rest of us. Without this clinic, dental issues, breast lumps, cervical cancer, uterine cancer, skin cancer and urinary tract infections would go undiagnosed in this population. In addition, immunizations, including flu vaccines, would not be possible.

The generous crew at Clinical Services has even done nail trimming and haircuts that the staff at group homes are not able to do.

This clinic also provides a full range of dental services to both the mentally disabled and folks with mental health diagnoses.

Most of us don't have a loved one who needs to attend this clinic, but we all share the responsibility. Who said, "A society can be judged by the way it treats its helpless"?

I wonder if Gov. LePage is even aware that it's not just a dental clinic.

Kathleen Crommie

Acton

Pipeline foes can't back up claims about oil sands crude

Re: "Maine Voices: Tar sands oil in New England: A test of presidential leadership," Jan. 26:

In their recent op-ed, the Sierra Club and 350.org skewed the meaning of President Obama's inaugural speech to fit their climate change agenda rather than presenting the facts about the oil sands crude that may or may not flow through Maine.

Keystone XL is not an "oil sands pipeline." It's an oil pipeline that, along with carrying resources derived from the Canadian oil sands, will also transport 25 percent of its supply from American-produced oil from places like North Dakota and Montana.

External factors, not internal corrosion, caused the pipeline spill in the Kalamazoo River. According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, no incident tied to internal corrosion has occurred on a pipeline carrying Canadian crude from 2002 to mid-2012 -- not to mention that our pipelines have been transporting oil sands crude to U.S. refineries for decades.

It's not a new source of energy and mirrors the properties of other heavy crude oils, some of which are even produced here at home.

The authors also describe the Kalamazoo incident as if they have scientific evidence that diluted bitumen (oil sands crude that is filtered and diluted) reacts any differently in water than conventional crudes.

I'd challenge them to find a credible study that corroborates with that notion. Depending on environmental conditions, any crude can mix with materials in the environment and sink. In accordance with both federal and state regulations, pipeline operators must prepare and seek approval for spill response plans before work can even begin.

If these pipeline opponents are merely making Keystone XL and the Portland-Montreal pipeline scapegoats for their off-oil agendas, they should at least present your readership with scientific facts to back up their points. Otherwise, Maine is considering major legislative changes under false pretenses.

(Continued on page 2)

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