The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

October 20, 2012

Countryside closure was heartbreaking

The Daily Star

---- — Countryside closure was heartbreaking

We should recognize and remember the destruction of trust and devastation of lives that occurred at Countryside Care Center in Delhi. New York officials abruptly announced its closure.

Due to the lack of nursing home beds, the immediate transfer of a loved one was impossible, so the state contracted with a conglomerate to accept residents. These nursing homes are located in Albany, Amsterdam, Cortland and Rockland County, making visitation impossible for families and friends.

Selection of placement was made by a state tribunal whose members had no knowledge of or responsibility for residents’ emotional well-being.

Visiting Countryside during the forced evacuation, I found residents in wheelchairs, clutching manila envelopes, clothes and possessions stuffed into plastic bags, pushed into vans and driven off. Dedicated staff watched and wept in grief and anger.

No one without power of attorney, or a designated next-of-kin, could be told destinations, even as they kissed them good-bye.

I sat in barren rooms with residents not yet moved, hearing the same questions over and over: “Where am I going?” “When am I going?”

It is galling to hear that Countryside may be reopened soon. Does management not understand the trauma that this diaspora created in the lives of fragile individuals and those who love them?

Lives will be shortened, psyches damaged beyond repair; frail and ill elderly have suffered a loss of any sense of safety and care. To have put so many people through such agony is unforgivable, especially if the intention is to reopen the facility soon.

The forced dislocation could have been postponed for a short time.

Amid rumors of the sale of other nursing homes, I urge families to be vigilant that secret plans are not being made to close them.

Rev. Carol Wilson


Fox judgment is bad for New Yorkers

The recent news of a historic, nine-figure judgment against Fox Hospital (“Fox Hospital hit with $126M verdict,” Oct. 3) should serve as a reminder for why health care costs in New York remain among the highest in the nation.

An Otsego County jury awarded the plaintiff $126m to pay for a lifetime of care and lost wages. The jury found Fox Hospital liable for the woman’s heart condition and decided Fox should compensate her for her injuries.

However, her medical care and lost wages are just a fraction of the total $126 million award. The remainder is for non-economic or “pain and suffering” damages.

New York needs to set reasonable limits on non-economic awards. Thirty-one other states have passed caps on non-economic awards and when Gov. Cuomo was first elected, he tried to pass similar legislation in New York. Sadly, the governor’s efforts were thwarted by the powerful trial lawyer lobby and New York medical costs continue to soar.

When judgments get this high, we all pay for it. The cost of this award will be passed on to everyone seeking medical care at Fox Hospital and indeed, anyone seeking care in New York state.

Judgments like this will be priced into the medical liability insurance rates for every doctor in New York, leading to higher costs for every state resident.

In 2010, New York doctors spent $1.65 billion in liability insurance premiums, according to a recent study. The next closest state was California, where doctors spent $820 million with a much higher population.

Anyone hurt by medical negligence should be compensated.

But unless we can enact a reasonable limit on non-economic damages, all New Yorkers will suffer.

Thomas B. Stebbins


Stebbins is executive director for the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York

Obama is not

our best hope

The only thing worse than the pernicious prattle of the Tea Party Republicans is the inane mantra of Obama supporters that “he’s our best hope.”

Their best hope poses a clear and present threat to our civil liberties, but they remain willfully indifferent to the truth, preferring instead to cling to the illusion that Obama’s really a stand-up guy who cares about “we the people.” 

He’s not. And he doesn’t. Obama has ramped up the infrastructure of the Bush-Cheney surveillance state, and the legal framework needed to crush any serious protest against government policies.

His most recent effort is the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012.

In her article, “Cruel & Unusual Punishment: NDAA,” Jacqueline Marcus writes that the Constitutional rights abolished under the NDAA include, but are not limited to:

• The right to know specific charges against us

• The right against unreasonable searches and seizures

• The right to a speedy and “public” trial

• The right to an impartial jury

• The right to confront witnesses against us

• The right to a lawyer

In addition, Obama wants the power to indefinitely detain journalists who are only trying to get all sides of the story; or those who criticize the president’s foreign policies.

Glenn Greenwald, a constitutional lawyer and columnist at The Guardian, reported that Obama’s Department of Justice will not deny that the law could not be used to indefinitely detain journalists who offend the administration.

These chilling facts don’t faze the majority of Obama’s wilfully ignorant supporters — nor the Tea-Party Republicans in the House and Senate, who have yet to demonstrate any interest in defending our civil liberties, which raises the question: Are they fools or fascists?

Walter F. Wouk