23 Jun Jonathan Cartu Announces: Readers And Tweeters Ponder Racism, Public Health Threats
Rising Above Racism
I want to compliment writer Anna Almendrala on her article “Masked or Not, Asians Are Still Attacked” in the Los Angeles Times (“Hate Unmasked In America, May 29). I was deeply moved by her eloquent prose and her compassionate voice. During this difficult time, after being cruelly attacked by a neighbor, she was still able to respond to an egregious insult with an impressive amount of empathy. I hope that readers learn from her example. I have.
— Jayne Muñoz, Santa Ana, California
— Barbara Glickstein (@BGlickstein) May 29, 2020
— Barbara Glickstein, New York City
Threats Against Public Health Workers
Thank you for publishing the story describing the dire threats that public health professionals have received (“Public Health Officials Face Wave Of Threats, Pressure Amid Coronavirus Response,” June 12). I left an academic career in public health, as the former director of prevention and control for the Cancer Center of Hawaii, because of institutional racism. But that pales in comparison to what these professionals are being subjected to.
— Dr. Brian Martin, Portland, Oregon
I would have liked the authors of this article to also have mentioned what percentage of the officials who quit or were fired were female. I have noticed since the beginning that most state and local health officials are female. (Noticed it is the same in Canada.) And did they investigate/consider whether that fact has also played a part in the hostility and threats?
— Ann-Marie Tate, Phoenix
Editor’s note: Please be on the lookout for follow-up stories, produced in partnership with The Associated Press, which will include more data.
Being a public health worker is like being Batman, but w/o the funding. Everyone’s happy you’re out there when things are good. But when shit hits fan, they set the dogs on you.
— Faiz Kidwai, DO, MPH (@KidwaiFaiz) June 14, 2020
— Dr. Faiz Kidwai, Syracuse, New York
Lessons In Holistic Healing
The long history of mistreatment and distrust between Native Americans and the federal government is no secret (“Returning to Roots, Indian Health Service Seeks Traditional Healers,” May 14), but I find that myself and many of my peers in medical school have limited knowledge when it comes to the health care of Native Americans. This article provides an enriching example of the importance of cultural diversity and holistic medicine.
In the era of medicine where chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease are the most common cause of death, there are no treatments that “cure” conditions as there are with many infectious diseases. As such, treatment relies on addressing risk factors, lifestyle changes, and the social environment. While the advancement of modern medicine is nothing short of remarkable, there is something to be learned from the traditional healers of the Native American reservations. They seek not only to treat physical conditions, but also to address the “mental, emotional, and spiritual needs” of the community, as so elegantly stated in the article. This comprehensive approach to medicine is perhaps more suitable to the chronic diseases we see today, where cardiovascular disease is intertwined with risk factors such as poor diet, low income, distrust of medicine, etc.
The recruitment of traditional healers by the Indian Health Service, a federally funded organization, gives me hope that not only is the government starting to accept the importance of cultural diversity, but that it is beginning to acknowledge a more holistic approach to medicine.
— Brandon Jocher, St. Louis
“When an elder dies there’s a whole history, a whole line of information that we lose. It’s like the library burning down” says Stewart-Peregoy of the Crow
Elders are a living link to our history—not too far distant in 2020 if you consider long lifespanshttps://t.co/7nU8u9q8Vt
— Brett Chapman (@brettachapman) June 6, 2020
— Brett Chapman, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Their Lives Did Count
I watched Dr. Elisabeth Rosenthal on CNN and related to her story “First-Person Perspective: My Mother Died Of The Coronavirus. It’s Time She Was Counted,” May 27). I lost two parents. Ten hours apart. In two different New York City hospitals. One came from a skilled nursing facility. One came from an independent living facility. 92 and 93 years old. Neither of them “counted.” It’s a terrible feeling. Their lives surely counted, but not their deaths.
— Robin Tolkoff Levy, Owings Mills, Maryland
On Dentists Cleaning Up
I saw your article on increased dental fees (“Open (Your Wallet) Wide: Dentists Charge Extra For Infection Control,” June 3). It is very true. I am a private practice dentist and am facing increased “disposable goods” costs, as well as additional trash collection fees, and have hired an additional staff member whose sole task is cross-contamination prevention. I am forced to pass these charges along to the patients.
To the patients interviewed in your article who were “shocked” by the added fees, you can look for a dentist who will not have to increase his or her fees — but you likely won’t find one. I have had a few patients refuse to pay the charge and they are dismissed from my practice. When they realize that our charges are reasonable and call to try and get an appointment (and 80% do), we won’t make them an appointment. “But there isn’t another dentist in 200 miles who takes my insurance,” they complain. Shouldn’t have complained.
Several local dentists have retired completely because they couldn’t (or chose not to) keep up with the changes. We are booked into November. On the plus side, my existing patients are thrilled to be able to be seen and arrive early, don’t balk at having to wait in the parking lot and are extremely pleased with our efforts to avoid cross-contamination. My rate of “missed appointments” is way down.
Dentistry now outpaces logging and fishing as the most hazardous job on the planet. We went from being the brunt of jokes to valued members of the health care community.
In 1962, there were 100,000 dentists, 100,000 physicians and 70,000 attorneys. Today there are about 190,000 dentists, 950,000 physicians and 1.1 million lawyers. Earning a dental degree requires more than a quarter of a million dollars. There is a reason modern dental care is so expensive — because it is worth it.
— Dr. William Hartel, Bristol, Tennessee
In case you needed more proof that universal healthcare also should mean a single-payer system for dental and vision care, not just major medical, mental health and prescription plans. https://t.co/iHQuxokByY
— Jennifer S. Hyk (@JenHyk) June 3, 2020
— Jennifer Hyk, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Not only am I disturbed by the inflammatory title, but also by the tone of this article. I am waiting for one journalist to actually do some research and find out exactly the level of expense related to all the new (and ever-changing) rules and regulations related to patient safety because of COVID-19. These additional measures are costly and ongoing. Add to that the fact that many suppliers are acting like black-market profiteers by escalating their costs. It’s almost like Martin Shkreli bought out all the supply chains that provide PPE.
The dental offices you covered in your article all handled this exactly how the CDC, OSHA, ADA and almost every state dental organization has recommended. This is not a routine “cost of doing business.” For offices contracted with the dental “insurance” companies, the offices are contractually forbidden to charge above the usual, customary and reasonable (UCR) cost dictated by the companies. In short, if the dentist tries to bundle the fee into the cost of a procedure, he/she will not be reimbursed by the insurance companies. Bottom line: The dentist is expected to eat the cost.
In contrast to what the general public may think, the great majority of dentists are not millionaires. They are hardworking men and women who sacrificed eight additional years of their early adulthood to learn their specialty. Many graduate from dental school with loans in excess of $250,000, which is close to what the average American spends to buy a home. Once in practice, they are pushed around by the dental “insurance” Goliaths that have not increased their average annual “benefit” maximum since the 1960s. Oh, and let’s not discount this increasingly litigious society that directly affects annual malpractice premiums.
These dentists endure all of this. They carry the responsibility of usually being a solo business owner, leader of a team and responsible for them and their families, having to deal with constantly changing local, state and national regulations, ever-increasing license and business costs, and possibly being exposed to a deadly disease on a daily basis. (By the way, I’m not lumping COVID in with “deadly disease” — I’m talking about deadly diseases like hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV, etc.).
I don’t know of any dentist who has gotten one red cent in “unemployment benefits” during the past three months. Yes, they may have received PPP money, but guess what? That goes straight to expenses or must be paid back. This is quite different from the unemployment benefits that millions of American employees have received since the middle of March.
Lastly, for those patients who are complaining about the $10 PPE fee, I wonder how many of them drop at least that much within two days of going to their local…