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Partnership for Patients will improve health care

Independent Health is encouraged to learn from the Aug. 10 News article, "Pushing to improve patient safety," that area hospitals are pledging their support for the Partnership for Patients initiative recently launched by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Partnership for Patients is bringing together leaders of major hospitals, employers, physicians, health plans and patient advocates along with state and federal governments in a shared effort to make hospital care safer, more reliable and less expensive.

Independent Health is committed to improving the quality, access and affordability of health care. It is our belief that transforming health care and lowering costs is a collective responsibility requiring wide-ranging partnerships with key stakeholders and extensive collaboration among the public and private sectors. Through programs like Care Partners for Frail Elders and Care Transitions, Independent Health is already working toward the goals of the Partnership for Patients initiative.

The Care Partners for Frail Elders program helps Medicare Advantage members who were having difficulty living independently at home and those with chronic conditions avoid preventable complications and medical emergencies. Since the start of this program, emergency room visits, preventable inpatient admissions and readmissions have all decreased.

Independent Health is also partnering with Catholic Health and Kaleida Health on the Care Transitions Program, which assists members with follow-up care plans when coming out of a hospital setting. This program resulted in a 3.85 percent overall reduction in the hospital readmission rate for Independent Health members last year.

We're already seeing viable results in these two programs in a relatively short period of time. Imagine how much greater the impact will be moving forward through initiatives like Partnership for Patients.

Thomas J. Foels, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Independent Health

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Collapse of Building 7 raises many questions

Professor Mark O'Brian's Aug. 14 Viewpoints piece, in which he cautions readers to not "believe unfounded claims about 9/1 1," brings up many interesting and relevant points. I heartily agree that many wild, unsupported or poorly documented hypotheses came to the fore shortly after the tragic events of 9/1 1. However, that fact should not deter us -- as scientists and concerned citizens -- from a reasoned analysis of what is surely one of the pivotal events in the history of this nation, and the world beyond.

Consider that the 9/1 1 events have spawned at least two major illegal and devastating wars, continuing economic decline, loss of civil liberties and privacy, and an enduring suspicion and even hatred for all things Muslim. In that the official government scenario, as portrayed by its reluctantly convened and underfunded 9/1 1 Commission report, has proven to be wholly "unscientific," a more nuanced approach is certainly in order.

Groups of seasoned professionals, notably Architects and Engineers for 9/1 1 Truth, Pilots for 9/1 1 Truth and Firefighters for 9/1 1 Truth, have made some very impressive breakthroughs, particularly in their analyses of what caused the three collapsed World Trade Center high-rise buildings to fall. O'Brian, along with the 9/1 1 Commission, failed to mention Building 7, the third building to fall. During early reporting, both CBS and BBC News reported that it appeared to have been felled by set explosives, eventually corroborated on video by World Trade Center owner Larry Silverstein. In that light, it is interesting that the 9/1 1 Commission report failed to even mention Building 7. The authors of the government-sponsored report have admitted that they did not even consider the possibility of internally set explosives as the cause of the Building 7 collapse. So much for scientific rigor.

John L. Berkley

Professor Emeritus, Geosciences Member, Architects & Engineers for 9/1 1 Truth, Fredonia

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Teachers have a duty to act as role models

As a high school teacher, I want to make it clear that neither Natalie Munroe nor the recent writer to this column in support of her malicious blogging about students speaks for me.

While I agree that constructive criticism is a necessary part of teaching, I do not agree that it is productive to refer to students as "whiny" and "frightfully dim." I think that in both cases, the writers need to be reminded that we are talking about children, and as the adults in their lives, we have a huge responsibility to model respect and compassion (while maintaining expectations) to ensure that they do not grow up and think it is appropriate to degrade and malign others.

Furthermore, I have found in my decade-plus time in the classroom that students will respond to a teacher who they feel has something to offer and cares about them. I love my job and am honored that I get to work with so many amazing kids with different talents every year. If Munroe feels so affronted by her students, I suggest she find another career. In these economic times, there are many talented teachers I am sure would be willing to take her place.

Lisa Carney

Williamsville

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Somebody should throw struggling mom a lifeline

I'm writing in response to the recent News report on the woman who took her disabled son out to dinner and he started choking. She said, "let him die."

This woman needs help, not condemnation. Murderers, drug addicts, alcoholics and cheats all get a second chance. The holier-than-thou are getting ready to stone her. This woman, who is nearly 70 years old, is probably burned out from constantly caring for a special-needs son all her life. I'll bet anything she is doing it alone. The mere fact that this mother took her son out to dinner tells me she loves him. It was a momentary lapse of clear judgment that will follow her for the rest of her life. I know she is sorry.

There are so many questions. Where is her support system? Group home? Respite? Day program? I know firsthand that caring for a completely dependent person is draining in every way -- mentally, physically, financially. And it's worse when it's just the two of you alone. How long can someone live under this constant strain? Was she known to law enforcement as an abuser? Did the son have bruises? Or was he well taken care of right up until her ugly comment?

And the sadder thing is that, instead of getting help, she might spend time in jail and the son will now be removed from his home. No one asks to be born with problems, and both mother and son obviously need a break. She doesn't need anyone making phone calls to her home or threats while she struggles through this difficult time.

I hope someone throws mom a lifeline and finds a way to fix this broken home.

Joann Pelczynski

Lackawanna