Letters to the editor - Saturday (3-16-2013)

  • Posted: Saturday, March 16, 2013 12:15 a.m.

Insulin pen problem shows need for greater vigilance

More than 200 former inpatients at the Salisbury VA Medical Center in North Carolina have been notified that they may have been infected with bloodborne pathogens while receiving health care to treat diabetes (“Misuse of Insulin Pens,” March 8). It was reported that insulin pens, which should never be used on more than one person, were used on multiple patients. I urge each and every person who received a notification letter to go and be tested.

Equally crucial is the full effort of the entire health-care community, especially VA leadership, to pursue a full-scale investigation. “We want to be as open and transparent as we can,” said Kaye Green, the Medical Center’s director, in a recent published statement. I commend Green and her colleagues for their transparency and willingness to take responsibility. I am also glad to see VA has set up a toll-free line to field questions.

Still, that is just a starting place. Having seasoned epidemiologists study this situation to determine, definitively, if any one of these patients was infected with a disease — hepatitis C, hepatitis B or HIV, among others — is crucial.

Also, after other lapses at VA medical facilities throughout the country, I believe it is now time for VA leadership to step up and become part of the solution. Ensuring proper use of the insulin pen is a stance I suggest VA take ownership of — in Salisbury and beyond.

— Evelyn McKnight

Fremont, Neb.

Evelyn McKnight is the founder of HONOReform Foundation, a safe-injection advocacy organization, and co-author of “A Never Event: Exposing the Largest Outbreak of Hepatitis C in American Healthcare History.”

Patron saint of the animals

I was delighted to learn that the newly elected pope chose for himself the name of St. Francis of Assisi, generally known as patron saint of the animals. Indeed, Catholic and Anglican churches hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of Oct. 4.

On one of his nature walks, Francis reportedly preached to the birds and is often portrayed with a bird in his hand. On another occasion, Francis concluded a pact with a ferocious wolf that was terrorizing local townsfolk, whereby the wolf would quit preying on the town’s sheep in exchange for being fed regularly. He even persuaded local dogs to stop harassing the wolf. He freed a rabbit from a trap, returned caught fish to their stream and fed half-frozen bees in winter-time.

I hope that Pope Francis will inspire Catholics and all persons of goodwill to show non-human animals the respect and compassion they so richly deserve, particularly when it comes to subsidizing their abuse and slaughter for food at the checkout counter. Joining the Meatless Mondays trend may be a good start.

— Shane Pappadopolous


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