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I want to protest the recent decision by the New York Board of Professional Medical Conduct to suspend Dr. John Bell-Thompson's license for one year.

When I was told after my heart attack that I needed a three-way by-pass, I was hesitant in agreeing to the surgery. Dr. Bell-Thompson called me at home and told me in clear and unequivocal terms the necessity of such an operation.

His bedside manner at that time might have been construed as aggressive and strong, but that's exactly what I needed. It was this strong-but-intelligent personality that enabled me to go into and out of the Erie County Medical Center in five days and that enabled ECMC to tout itself as the region's "heart surgery leader."

He is a very caring person. So concerned, in fact, that he even gave me his "sky-tel" number, so I could reach him anywhere at any time. How many doctors do you know who do that?

Dr. Bell-Thompson accepted a challenge by coming to Buffalo not only to improve the heart surgery department at ECMC, but to help it excel. He accepted the challenge. In the process, he "kicked a few butts." I'm glad he did -- for my sake and for all the other patients in Western New York who have benefited from this strong-but-caring personality.

It is easy to tear down, but difficult to build up. Dr. Bell-Thompson has spent much time building up ECMC. Don't let a few tear it down.

Robert J. Pohl Lockport

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