THE PEOPLE SPEAK IN THIS WEEK’S ‘LETTERS TO THE EDITOR’

 

Ample Evidence That Regular Use Of Marijuana Lowers Immunity To COVID-19

     Dear Editor:

     Governor Pritzker considers marijuana “essential.” He must believe that being high is fundamental to survival. Whatever his reasoning, he has done a great injustice to Illinois families, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a greater threat to those with a weakened immune system or impaired lung function. There’s ample evidence that regular use of marijuana lowers immunity and damages the lungs.

     “There is evidence that marijuana smoke is genotoxic, immunosuppressive, and can alter endocrine function… Prolonged exposures to marijuana smoke in animals and humans cause proliferative and inflammatory lesions in the lung,” research from California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.      

     “Cellular immunity is impaired, pulmonary immunity is impaired, and the impaired ability to fight infection is now documented in humans,” research from the The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. A “multitude of toxic microorganisms, many of which are known causes of serious lung infections, including Cryptococcus, Mucor, and Aspergillus fungi and Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Acinetobacter baumannii bacteria” are found in so-called “medical” marijuana, according to UC at Davis.

     Clinical Microbiology and Infection, titled, “A microbiome assessment of medical marijuana.” There’s also the issue of increased risk of psychosis, increased risk of traffic fatalities, increased hospitalizations, increased use by children, and the consequences go- on. Illinois political priorities are a wreck.

Kathy Valente, Director of Operations Illinois Family Institute. Tinley Park, IL

Governor Pritzker Commended For Leadership During COVID-19 Pandemic

To the Editor:

     Illinois physicians and hospitals commend Governor J.B. Pritzker for his steadfast leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day he faces tough choices and he is clearly making decisions with the interests of Illinoisans in mind. Our Governor is also taking the time to listen to the experts.

     A good example was his recent Executive Order extending civil liability protection to health professionals and hospitals during this crisis. The Illinois State Medical Society and the Illinois Health and Hospital Association jointly asked his office to issue this order. It did not take long for our conversations with the Governor’s office to lead to much-needed protections for frontline health care workers.

     We thank the Governor for his leadership. Increasing COVID-19 testing statewide, the incredible momentum to turn McCormick Place into an alternative care site and engaging the Army Corps of Engineers to open shuttered facilities are significant accomplishments. The Executive Order from a few weeks ago requiring health insurer payment of telemedicine is another decisive action that cleared the way for non-COVID-19 patients to maintain treatment with physicians and health systems. Governor Pritzker’s daily battles to obtain personal protective equipment, ventilators and other critical resources are very much appreciated as we near a surge of expected COVID-19 hospitalizations.

     The days and weeks ahead will be difficult, but decisiveness and ability to make hard choices is critical right now. Thank you Governor Pritzker for doing what is right to protect the wellness and safety of us all.

Paul E. Pedersen, MD President, Illinois State Medical Society

A.J. Wilhelmi President and CEO, Illinois Health and Hospital Association

Nurse Scholarships And Staffing As Emergency Measures

     I know that nursing students will email me to say they cannot return to class because of financial hardships related to COVID-19. These students will not enter or, at best, will delay entering the shockingly understaffed nursing workforce at a time when we have all become aware of our need for direct patient care nurses. The nursing shortage has existed for a long time.

     The issue has not been resolved because of its complexity. What we are now seeing with the unique strategies to address the nurse workforce shortage related to the COVID-19 pandemic (asking retired nurses to return and utilizing nursing students to meet the demand) are clear examples of why addressing the existing nursing shortage must be prioritized as a healthcare emergency.

     SB 3636 provides a holistic approach to the nursing shortage by addressing the interconnection of the need for nurse-driven staffing decisions, financial support that ensures nursing students complete nursing school, and incentives that encourage nurses to take faculty roles so that students have access to nursing education.

     COVID-19 has put strains on just about every facet of our lives…but most worrisome is the extra stress placed on our fragile healthcare system.

     I work as the Associate Director of the Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice Program at DePaul University. Building a solid nursing knowledge foundation requires a substantial time commitment, which makes it difficult for students to work while in school. Understandably, students constantly ask me about scholarships, and the truth is that the university has few resources to offer them, particularly at the master’s entry level. Having more financial assistance available through nursing scholarships would both provide opportunities for more people to consider nursing and support current students in finishing nursing programs.

     A lack of scholarships is only one of the challenges facing the nursing field. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), in 2018 alone, nursing schools turned away 75,029 qualified applicants because of reasons that include nurse faculty shortages. We cannot attract enough faculty to educate future nurses.

     Every time I interview a potential adjunct faculty and tell them the starting rate, I worry they will say, “No.” That is a common barrier that most nursing programs encounter since nurses can earn much more in clinical practice. A tax credit could incentivize nurses to become and stay educators. Nurse educators have a responsibility to graduate nurses who require the skills and knowledge to save lives. Beyond the classroom, they facilitate student clinical rotations, build relationships with hospital partners and nurse preceptors who help students complete clinical rotations.

     From what I have observed in my administrative role, offering tax incentives to attract and retain more faculty and adjuncts could mean more consistency in the way courses are taught and consistency in clinical placements. It means enhanced student learning. The clinical aspect of nursing education requires collaboration outside of the university that often proves to be challenging.

     Nursing programs depend on hospital nurses to help teach students critical processes and skills that connect classroom learning to practice. When the number of patients they must care for or poor work environments overwhelm nurses in hospitals, they do not have the time or tools to be able to best educate students. I have, at times, struggled to find clinical sites with a staffing capacity large enough to open their doors to students.

     I do not want to further inundate nurses; however, nursing students need hands-on clinical learning experiences that direct-patient care nurses help provide. Building nurse-driven staffing committees that advocate for fair schedules that allow for work with nursing students will help address the limited clinical placements that contribute to the nursing shortage.

     Acceptable workloads can only happen if nurses are at the table for staffing conversations. I hear from nurses who don’t feel listened to. Many feel overworked, and overlooked by not having a voice in decision making. Nurses, who are at the front lines, can provide new and useful ideas to influence health outcomes, improve patient satisfaction, and decrease nurse burnout.

     As a nursing professor, I would like to know that, once students graduate, they will all practice in an environment where they can self-advocate and create change. If nurses feel empowered in the clinical setting, we will retain more nurses providing excellent care. My responsibility as a nurse educator and administrator is to prepare the next generation of nursing students to provide the highest-quality safe patient care. However, it is worrisome to think that, once they leave our academic doors, they may work in an unsafe environment because of poor staffing or limited resources.

     In the current COVID-19 crisis, we are witnessing nurses risking their own health and working under incredible stress that may further contribute to more nurses exiting direct-patient care and, also, impede new nurses from joining the workforce.

     We must take action now by passing SB3636 to address this healthcare emergency by protecting nurses through safe staffing and incentives to open the pipeline for more nurses and nurse faculty.

Elizabeth Aquino, PhD, RN Associate Director of the Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice Program DePaul University

Memories Of Decatur High School Band And Conductor Rex Rees

(Editor’s note: The “Scrapbook” article in our March 25th edition focused on the Decatur High School’s band history and conductor Rex Rees, a polished musician with drive and vision. Reader Rob Branson submitted the following letter with comments from his 96-year-old father, Bob, who played for Rees.)

     Dear Editor:

     I joined the Decatur HS band with my cornet when I was 15 years old in 1939. Most band members had to be recommended by area music teachers and mine was Rollie Garrett. You still would audition but Rex relied on instructors he knew well. Rollie’s word was good with Mr. Rees so that helped me get in the band, whereI played from 1939 to 1941 when I enlisted in the US Navy.

     Playing in the band with Mr. Rees was an honor that every member felt, even as some in school would consider us “Squares”. Mr. Rees commanded attention at all times. Shortly after we gathered in the music room for practice Rex Rees would enter and all our talking and shenanigans would come to an immediate stop. He was respected more that he ruled with an iron hand. Mr. Rees had class and never reprimanded anybody about their playing in public.

     If someone couldn’t cut it, it was handled quietly. I got to be pretty good by the time I was a senior and only quit playing trumpet a year ago (now 95). We played for basketball games, football games and concerts in the big auditorium. We needed a big room because there were around 100 members in the band. We played Sousa marches and popular songs. Oh, and one thing that was interesting, is that bands under Rees as far as I know were always boys bands.

     No girls were ever allowed to play. This caused some problems even back then but that’s the way it was even though some other school bands would allow girls. As I recall, some of the teachers and parents may not have liked him very much because of his policy on not allowing girls in the band. But he wanted it to be like a Sousa band, that’s just the way it was and the band was one of the best.

     Playing with Rex Rees in the Decatur Redcoat Band was an honor that I will never forget!

Bob Branson

America’s Glaring Failure

Dear Editor:

     Covid 19 has exposed an extremely troubling outcome of trade agreements, corporate greed, and the ability of mega-donors to imperil our ability sustain our economy and national security. America in this crisis, cannot produce the medical supplies we need to protect those on the front lines, the population at large, nor can we guarantee that our defense forces will be healthy enough to defend this country.

     Will China produce our military weaponry if we go to war with them? This threat to our nation began in earnest back in the seventies and eighties. Outsourcing production first took root by corporate carpetbaggers who moved production to Dixie to counter union organizing, fair wages and benefits.

     The great Ronald Regan, chipped in his share by firing 12,000 Air Traffic Controllers. Slick Willy Clinton, in concert with Newt the Grinch, passed NAFTA and the horse was out of the barn. When southern workers were not as cheap as slave labor in Communist countries, often child slave labor, the bastards of the boardroom betrayed America and fled in favor of propping up the economies of communist dictators. The opportunity to produce without environmental controls, labor standards, and taxes, was worth more than loyalty to America. CEO compensation rose dramatically, shareholders got richer while the ability to fund good government, provide social and economic parity for we the people, spiraled downhill.

     Both sides of the aisle created this dynamic as corporate donors became the stewards of our precious America. Unquestionably the Republican Party is the most preferred champion of the donor class. Citizens United, Voter suppression, and a totally corrupt White House continues the assault on our democracy.

     Using Covid 19 as cover, the Republican Party continues the assault on social programs, privatization of government functions, and the effort to destroy the US Postal Service.

Mike Griffin, Decatur

Columns and “Letters To The Editor” are the opinions of the writers and not necessarily the opinion of the Decatur Tribune editor and publisher, staff, or advertisers.

1 Comment

  1. Roger German on April 24, 2020 at 7:36 pm

    Sorry Mr Griffin, home computers, smart phones and P.O. inefficiency is the cancer killing the Post Office. When was the last year the post office made a profit or even broke even? Blaming the republicans for the post office’s failure is foolish.

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