We read with disappointment “Infections run rampant at same-day surgery centers” published in The Portland Press Herald on June 9.

While the sensationalized title implies that infection rates are “rampant” in outpatient centers, the article contains no infection rate data to support that claim. Instead, the article is a description of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ recent focus on surgical infection control in ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs).

Maine citizens can take comfort that our ASC licensing process mirrors Medicare-established standards. An example of following such rigorous quality standards is demonstrated in the low surgical infection rates in Maine ASCs.

While the federal Centers for Disease Control have estimated an overall surgical site infection rate nationally of 2 percent to 5 percent, the Orthopaedic Surgery Center at Orthopaedic Associates Centers for Orthopaedics has had a 10-year annual surgical site infection rate of only 0.2 percent. This is a 10-25 fold lower rate than national average hospital rates.

At a time when rising health care costs are affecting more people than ever before, cost effective treatment options are important to all of us.

The Press Herald article notes that ASCs perform 6 million procedures annually at a Medicare cost of $3 billion. The resultant average of only $500 per procedure average in ASCs is far lower than average hospital facility fees for the same procedures.

Ambulatory surgery centers in Maine tend to perform more of a given procedure than the average hospital, and it has been well established that higher volume significantly improves quality and outcomes.

At the same time, ASCs are reimbursed by Medicare and other insurers at much lower rates than hospitals for the same procedures. That means patient copays are also lower.

As a result, Maine ASCs provide a high-quality, cost-effective care setting for Maine consumers.

Thomas F. Murray, M.D.

OA Centers for Orthopaedics


Republicans for equality? That’s a bit of a joke

The proposition set forth in a June 12 letter by Walter J. Eno that it is the Republican Party and not the Democratic Party that is the party of equality is laughable. The fact that you printed it is more laughable still.

It was Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson who pushed for and had enacted the equal rights legislation. Who were the Democrats opposed to integration? That would be the “Dixiecrats” who ultimately, after the equal rights legislation was passed, and as a way of showing their utter disdain for it, fled the Democratic Party and became part of today’s Republican Party.

People with those beliefs still find refuge in and are still members of the Republican Party, where they are welcomed as part of that party’s “Southern Strategy.”

Lest we forget the Dixiecrats that went on to become Republicans, it would serve all of us well to read the following extracts from the Dixiecrats’ 1948 platform in order to remind ourselves where our nation once was, and sadly, where some of our fellow citizens remain:

“We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race; the constitutional right to choose one’s associates. We oppose the elimination of segregation, the repeal of miscegenation statutes, the control of private employment by Federal bureaucrats called for by the misnamed civil rights program.

“We oppose and condemn the action of the Democratic Convention in sponsoring a civil rights program calling for the elimination of segregation, social equality by Federal fiat, regulations of private employment practices, voting, and local law enforcement.

“We affirm that the effective enforcement of such a program would be utterly destructive of the social, economic and political life of the Southern people.”

Daniel Dwyer


Feds have cleared ACORN of waste, fraud charges

Remember ACORN? I read recently that ACORN has been cleared of all wrongdoing by the Government Accountability Office, an official federal watchdog agency.

A few months back, I wrote a letter critical of the fact that your editorial staff had spilled thousands of words on the supposed financial misdeeds by this tiny community organizing group.

I pointed out that while you seemed infuriated by a group that tries to empower the powerless, you regularly ignored the easily documented corruption of giant corporations such as Halliburton.

Perhaps the next time you hear Fox News banging the drum loudly and repeatedly about some populist organization — as they did for months about ACORN — you may want to think twice before joining their extremist percussion ensemble?

Matt Power


Columnist thinks sick days ‘out of touch’? No, he is

Ron Bancroft’s description of state-mandated paid sick leave as “out of touch” (June 15) says more about how much he is out of touch than it does about what most people think.

To the vast majority of working people — indeed the majority of all voters — paid sick days is a modest but important workplace protection whose time has come.

Bancroft’s column makes it sound as though paid sick leave legislation would mandate “extra” days off from work. The reality is that half of all workers in the private sector are already without a single paid sick day. A simple case of the flu or child’s ear infection can be the difference between meeting the month’s rent or even losing a job.

For most of us, paid sick days are key to keeping a job and keeping workplaces productive during this economic recovery. That is why I’ll be asking all candidates where they stand on this issue before we go to the polls in November.

Emma Halas-O’Connor


Why is government paying to hector us on television?

We all need to be thinking ahead. Do we all need to pay for these idiotic public service announcements I see all the time?

In this era of budget cuts, do we need to waste taxpayer dollars on these announcements, such as the “click it or ticket” one I see all the time?

Well, do we?

Mark Richardson



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