Letters to the Editor
Uninsured are the week's focus
To the Editor:
As organizations across the United States mark Cover the Uninsured Week, (April 27-May 3), so will the five community health centers of Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, which are working to implement Massachusetts's landmark health care reform legislation. As a result of this legislation, approximately 340,000 individuals are newly insured statewide. Yet, 18.4 percent of all Cape Codders are without health insurance coverage, according to The Human Condition Report 2007. The inability to afford medical/dental care and prescriptions is a major concern for 74 percent of our population.
Even so, providing health insurance coverage is only one part of the equation. Providing access and containing costs are equally important. Recent reports and opinions have focused on the challenges: the unanticipated oversubscription of enrollees into the newly-minted Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice health insurance programs, the underfunding of these programs by the original legislation, and the resulting strain on the health care delivery system. On Cape Cod and the Vineyard, these challenges are exacerbated by the regional shortage of primary care providers, the high cost of living, the shortage of affordable workforce housing, and the refusal of some private practitioners to accept Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice health insurance programs. The good news is that this oversubscription means more people are entering into the health care stream than ever before - some for the very first time. There are greater numbers of newly insured individuals on !
Cape Cod. The bad news is that there are fewer access points to seek out care given the limited number of private practitioners accepting the new insurance programs, and as a result there are longer wait times to get care at access points, like the region's five community health centers, which are accepting Commonwealth Care and Commonwealth Choice insurance programs. In terms business people can understand, demand is outstripping supply.
The Cape & Vineyard Community Health Center Network (CVCHCNet), comprised of the five community health centers on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, remains committed to reaching out to the uninsured on Cape Cod and the Vineyard. It is committed to the successful implementation of health care reform. Unique regional challenges, such as our diverse and fluctuating populations, seasonal workforce, and tourism-related economy all contribute to the magnitude of the problem of the uninsured.
The CVCHCNet members strive to mirror the communities they serve - with staff that speak the languages and understand the cultures of their patients. This may be their greatest strength, allowing for the creation of a welcoming and comforting health care home for the delivery of high quality, comprehensive patient care. Last year, local health centers accounted for 114,800 patient visits and enrolled 4,500 previously uninsured individuals. "We see the faces of the uninsured every day and know their stories," said Claire Goyer, CEO, Duffy Health Center, representing CVCHCNet, "They are our hardworking neighbors and friends whose jobs do not provide them insurance or who cannot afford private coverage. We are proud of our role in
keeping the uninsured healthy and out of hospital emergency rooms by providing affordable and accessible health care." Community forums on health care issues, insurance enrollment events, and expanded access to health care through a mobile medical clinic and new or expanded facilities are just some of the ways the Cape & Vineyard Community Health Network is working to balance the components of health care reform.
If you are uninsured and need primary care services, please consider your local community health center. We are available to assist you with insurance enrollment and we thank our patients who have entrusted us with their care. We want to be your Medical/Health care Home.
Claire Goyer, Duffy Health Center
Cynthia Mitchell, Island Health Care Rural Health Clinic
David Reidy, Mid-Upper Cape Community Health Center & Ellen Jones Community Dental Center
Henry Tuttle, Outer Cape Health Services, Inc.
Karen Gardner, Community Health Center of Cape Cod
Oak Bluffs shoreline is a busy place
To the Editor:
At the old pay beach, a collapsed seawall is being restored as a full-fledged, fully vegetated coastal bank that will not only enhance the beach, but more importantly protect the stability of the road above it, Sea View Avenue. Gabion baskets full of stones are in place now to trap sand and hold the plantings that will grow above them. Coastal scientists encourage this kind of "soft" restoration of natural landforms because they are better at protecting beaches, banks, and roads than "hard" structures like seawalls and stone revetments.
Sand is a valuable commodity in Oak Bluffs. In the past, most sand on the beaches came from eroding coastal banks. Now many of those banks, from East Chop to State Beach, are pockmarked with seawalls and revetments that block the sand on the banks from reaching the shore. Meanwhile jetties block sand from spreading along the shoreline. Add beach erosion and sea level rise to the mix, and Oak Bluffs, like all coastal towns, is facing a serious shortage of sand for our beautiful beaches. Now the challenge is to recycle the sand we have.
Drifting sand that built up inside the Oak Bluffs Harbor, for example, has been added to the so-called Inkwell portion of the Sea View Avenue beach, a section with perhaps the most serious erosion problem. The sand tested positive for cleanliness and is compatible with the sand already on the beach. Sand dredged from the Little Bridge inlet at State Beach will also be used to replenish the Inkwell site.
Back at the harbor a new bulkhead stretches along the way where the Island Queen docks, the harbor seawall was rebuilt (no natural solution would work at this site), and a sidewalk now rests between the parking lot and beach.
Towering cranes rise up at the Steamship Authority dock, competing for skyline space with the Methodist church cross and Tabernacle cupola. A new lane is being added to the pier, among other improvements.
The shoreline along Sea View Avenue is a focal point of activity. A Boardwalk to Beach to Boardwalk Task Force has come up with a master plan to revitalize the waterfront, while several town departments are coordinating the bank restoration and sand replenishment projects.
Soon the cranes and jersey barriers will be history, and the infrastructure along the shoreline sturdier. The messy sand, detours, and loud construction work will give way to sandy summer breezes.
Not many towns are fortunate enough to have an in-town beach. The Sea View Avenue beach is a gem, with calm waters and views of Cape Cod and Edgartown. It is free and open to the public. It is the beaches and ponds and parks that attract people to the Island and the town. Protecting them is as much an economic necessity as an environmental one.
But, as my husband says during spring cleaning, "It's going to get messier before it gets better."
Why not do some polling?
To the Editor:
I was surprised to find that Arlan Wise's longstanding astrology column has been removed. The thing with astrology is that most people won't say, "Hey bring it back!" - because, frankly, they're slightly embarrassed to say that they put any credence in the stuff to begin with.
But here's an odd little fact: A good number of major newspapers carry astrology columns - to cite a few, the L.A. Times, the New York Daily News, and even the venerable Washington Post. These publications aren't stupid. The primary reason they carry these columns is that a lot of readers read them. Even if they don't want to fess up to it.
So why do we read astrology columns? Is it a total flight into fantasy where we hope the stars will dictate whether our dreams will come true? Or fail? I suppose that's the case to some degree. But there is another reason: Astrology seems to work. A neutrino physicist at Brookhaven Laboratories who also had a metaphysical bent once offered me a theory of why astrology might work - from the perspective of neutrino physics. So, who am I to disagree?
And even if our rational, down-to-earth, pragmatic, and logical selves say "That can't be!" and we refuse to believe it, for many people it still seems to work, so we keep on reading. So, go ahead, don't tell anybody else, but admit it to yourself - ever read Arlen's column? And if you did, did you find it to be helpful? If your answer is "no" to both of the above, I'll defer, but otherwise the point is that useful information doesn't always come from logical places. Can't say why, but it's true.
Arlan Wise's column was not of the general horoscope type, where you find predictions like "Librans will find themselves having a sunny day! With a good chance at romance!" Instead she wrote about astrological info using a different perspective and one that applied to the general public on a larger scale. The fact is that Arlen's column was head and shoulders above many larger newspapers' astrology columns.
I suspect if you took a poll of how many Vineyard readers would like the column to be reinstituted you'd be surprised. Just don't make people put their real name on it.
That being said, I have great admiration and respect for the editorial talents at the Martha's Vineyard Times and for the content of both the News and Calendar sections and your responsiveness to your readers. So here's my challenge to you - go out and take the poll and see how many readers would prefer the astrology column over other material. Perhaps even set up a site online so people can vote - where they won't have to sign their names. If you ask the "New Agers," of course they'll say yes - but I would not be surprised if you get the same answer when you ask a broader spectrum of the Vineyard population. Whatever the answer - that's your readership.
Great asset lost
To the Editor:
Without Arlan Wise's astrology column, your newspaper has lost one of the great assets a paper can have; in your case, shelf life in my home after any given Thursday. I will find my way to look for new words of wisdom that will put pep in my step, manure in my garden, and the advanced awareness to not step with pep blindly. Arlan's column was a daily bit of thought with no precious overtones. I will miss her interpretations of the daily almanac-esque weather report.
Thank you to the teachers
To the Editor:
Helen Caldicott, author and peace activist, once said, "Teachers, I believe, are the most responsible and important members of society, because their professional efforts affect the fate of the earth."
In celebration of National Teachers Day, May 6, the staff of the Oak Bluffs Public Library would like to thank our local teachers for their dedication to excellence and their special efforts to mentor the future citizens of the Island community.
Oak Bluffs Public Library
Hire our kids
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to a piece of correspondence published last week in this section called "Hired American", which spelled out the allegation that local hotels, restaurants, and retail stores were hiring low hourly wage foreign workers under the H-2B program and making little or no effort to even recruit American workers.
I have a 20-year-old daughter who in prior years attempted to work during the summers to secure extra money to help pay for her college education. With our local employment market flooded with literally hundreds of foreign H-2B workers with low wages, my daughter could not get a decent job to help fund her college education.
While the hotels have continuously in recent years supported efforts to send their personnel representatives to poor economy countries with flashy perks such as free roundtrip airline transportation and highly subsidized housing to secure low cost foreign H-2B workers, there had been no effort to have a job fair for locals or even a job fair at our local high school. It was like "local Americans need not apply" as we can secure cheap labor under the H-2B program. Needless to say, my daughter, along with many of her friends, could not find jobs and had to borrow even more funds to attend college.
Fortunately, this year Congress maintained a limit on the number of H2-B foreign workers that could flood the local work force. Today, our newspapers are flooded with employment ads, and our local youth have an opportunity to secure summer jobs. Needless to say, my daughter easily got a job last week for the summer at one of the local hotels as a front desk clerk. If the local hotels can charge a mere $800 a night and the ice cream stores can charge $4 for a single ice cream cone, they can pay a decent wage to our local students and single mothers.
To the teachers
To the Editor:
The first full week in May is often celebrated as Teacher Appreciation Week, and I would like to thank the many teachers in my girls' lives. We have been so lucky this year by getting to participate in some truly wonderful Island programs with some very talented teachers. I couldn't be happier.
Cindy Flanders from Head Start. Cindy is awesome. She takes the time to get to know each child personally. She picks up on each child's unique interests and talents - no matter how unconventional they are. I felt like after only a few weeks she knew my daughter as well as if she'd known her for a year. What's more, she appreciates each child for what he or she brings to the world, and kids feel respected and understood when they're around her.
Lani Carney from Featherstone. Lani teaches a wide variety of art classes for children. Her greatest gift, in my mind, is that she makes each child feel special. She is so welcoming. I will never forget the second day my daughter came to her class, and Lani threw open the door with a big smile and said, "Oh, I'm so glad you came." My daughter always races into her classroom at breakneck speed and has asked to take five of her classes.
Jamie from Island Gymnastics. Jamie can singlehandedly get a long line of energetic preschoolers to perform amazing stunts on real gymnastics equipment in an orderly fashion. Need I say more?
Lindsay and Carla from the Family Center. These are some of the first people outside our family that I left my youngest daughter with. For that reason they play a pretty huge role in my daughter's world. Their names were some of her first words. I couldn't be happier with how nurturing and sweet they are.
I feel like this year our family has really been blessed by getting to participate in some of the Island's best programs for children (although, of course, I'm sure there are other wonderful resources for children we haven't gotten to sample yet). I recommend these programs wholeheartedly and without hesitation to anyone interested. I also encourage others to give all the wonderful teachers in their children's lives a huge heartfelt thank you. Nothing feels better to parents than knowing their children are happy and loved. Thanks to all of you.
There when needed
To the Editor:
We would like to recognize the impact that has been made on Island nonprofits by the manner in which Jonathan Bernstein and Geoff Rose have set up Our Island Club. They have enabled you, the members, to designate how 20 percent of your membership dues will be directed each year.
That Hospice of Martha's Vineyard has been the most often designated for these charitable donations is testament to the importance of its presence in the lives of so many of you. Hospice is there when a family is presented with the challenge of a life-threatening or limiting illness. It is there to help with decision making, choices about treatment, dealing with grief and loss, and mending families.
It is there regardless of your insurance status, ability to pay and length of use of the service - because it is free. It is there because of a dedicated and highly trained staff and because of the financial support of you, our friends and neighbors, who want the service to be there for them in their time of need. Hospice thanks you all for your thoughtful and generous support.
For the directors of Hospice of Martha's Vineyard
To the Editor:
My husband and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Geoghan Coogan, of Edmund Coogan Law Offices; Will Coogan, owner of the Wharf Restaurant; Jim Carter, owner of the Clarion Hotel; Gene and Penny Townes, and Ethel Chapman for their generous donations towards a great cause.
Chad Wescher, was the husband of Kim Wescher, a lifetime family friend. He had been battling cancer and the effects of two liver failures for many years. At times, his health would go in a positive direction, but it would eventually take a turn for the worst. Throughout the ups and downs, Chad remained a man of faith and hope, as well as a devoted husband and loving dad. He leaves behind his wife and three children of four years, two years, and nine months.
Financial donations have helped tremendously, since due to his health risks, he was always denied a life insurance policy for his family, and Kim had elected to stay home and raise the children. He provided for his family every day of his life, and Kim has cherished each day they could spend together as family. We are thankful to know such caring people in such a small community that are willing to give so graciously.
Daniel and Laura Townes
To the Editor:
Bradley Square is an affordable housing project in Oak Bluffs, and as abutting neighbors, has the support of the arts district. It has drawn negative attention from certain neighbors who, by all standards, should be in support. Fond memories of what it was like to grow up on Dukes County Avenue in 1950 have masked the reality of what I moved into in 1994. The neighborhood had to cope with drug deals, flop houses, police visits to problematic tenants, people renting shacks with no running water and saddest of all, a drug-related murder. Add that to abandoned and condemned houses and what do you get? Well it was bound to be an arts district. It was affordable space that no one else was willing to clean up and live in. The artists moved in, and the area began looking better. Life started to return to an area still sparsely occupied.
One of the most vocal opponents who lives in Vineyard Haven has plans for a 19-unit complex on Dukes County Avenue. Another so-called neighbor actually must reside on an empty lot. Plans for a takeout pizza shop are in the works by still another complainer. The arts district has been in support of their projects, and we find their antagonistic rhetoric offensive. Bradley Square matters, not because it's in the arts district, but because it will bring life to an old neighborhood. I hope people will walk around this neighborhood and see just who really cares about it. It's obvious. I would also like to remind everyone that the meetings for Bradley Square were open to the public and attended by people who have been supportive.
Most of all, I want to say to those who feel they are not part of the arts district, you're always welcome to visit and have a cup of tea. And to the neighbors who have filed complaints and yet attended many artist receptions with their friends to have a good time, what's up?
Demand more of Comcast
To the Editor:
The people of Martha's Vineyard have been, and continue to be, subjected to a virtual monopoly when it comes to obtaining television programming and other video and Internet-based services. Since 2001 (and before), when Adelphia Communications (now Comcast) entered into franchise agreements with all the Island towns to provide television programming services, there have been no choices available to the residents. Comcast provides the channel lineup, packages channels, and sets rates, all without input from the consumer. This anti-competitive, anti-choice company is seeking to renew its franchises across the Island.
Franchises are the means by which Comcast can guarantee that it will have access to customers. The current franchise agreements between Island towns and Comcast expire in 2011, three years from now. You might ask, why they are seeking to renew now, when the expiration date is three years away? The answer is simple. Comcast wants to secure their monopoly hold on the residents of Martha's Vineyard for another 10 years, and the opportunity to do so will soon not exist as the Federal Communications Commission has declared that franchises are no longer a valid way for providers to offer services, and by 2011 there will be no opportunity to enter into franchise agreements (FCC Docket No. 07-51, Report & Order & Further Notice Of Proposed Rule Making, released November 13, 2007. The decision was immediately enjoined and is presently working its way through the courts, hence the urgency to renew).
More and more companies are offering free choice of television programming and a host of individual services that can be purchased one at a time instead of as a bundle. And more opportunities for additional access choices are on the horizon.
Town selectmen should be cautious about hurrying to renew franchise agreements that may serve no other purpose but to limit consumer choice. Consumer choice should be the major consideration that selectmen have in mind as they sit down with the cable giant. Let the franchises expire and allow competition to set the pace and resident/consumers to set the price.
Open the field to competition and let the residents of Martha's Vineyard decide how and from whom they will get their television, telephone, and other electronic services.