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Everybody's Column

>Patients' directives should be honored

Columnist Leonard Pitts' very sad story of a woman denied access to the hospital bedside of her longtime partner ("What difference does it make?" Feb. 17) is really more a cautionary tale about what can happen if health care providers do not fully honor the wishes of the patient as expressed in an advance directive. In this case, everything required by law had been done to designate the woman as the health care agent.

A completed, properly signed and witnessed advance directive is a legal grant of authority to the person you designate to make medical decisions for you if you can't speak for yourself. Health care providers are required by law to respect the choice of health care agent, regardless of who it may be. Reasonable people can disagree on the proper scope of the health care agent's powers and privileges in the acute care setting, but common sense dictates that it should at least entitle the agent to be at the bedside, particularly if death is near, as it was in this case. Instead, the patient spent her final hours surrounded by strangers and separated from those who meant the most to her.

Hospitals, hospices, other health care providers and our organization have long encouraged everyone age 18 and older to have a completed advance directive, but it's of little value if the health care provider doesn't honor it. Human need, not provider policy, should take precedence.

Paul Malley
President, Aging with Dignity

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>Government spending won't solve this crisis

Congratulations to our Congress and president for finally arriving at a "stimulus" package. I can only imagine the time, effort and exhausting hours they must have put in deciding how much and where to distribute $800 billion of taxpayer money. I sure don't envy their job. I certainly feel they are due a vacation. Perhaps they might spend this time attending a civics 101 class. If only to learn that government spending, as in the New Deal and the Great Society (both failures), is not the way to cure economic woes.

As an addendum to the "stimulus," they want to limit or cap CEO salaries. To carry this further, I suggest that the states receiving this "stimulus" could also cap salaries. For instance, limit the salaries of our new president of SUNY, Buffalo's School Superintendent and our governor. About $1 a year would seem a reasonable cap. Erie County would also receive some stimulus funds, and it subsidizes the Buffalo Bills. Could we put a salary cap on Trent Edwards, Jason Peters and Brian Moorman, et al? Would I like to see this happen? Of course not, but we have 535 plus one incompetents in Washington, D.C., steering us in this direction. Lawyers must already be in a feeding frenzy.

Larry DeAeth
Tonawanda

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>Stop coddling criminals and replace useless laws

I am writing in regard to two articles in The News on Feb. 8. The first was about a driver facing DWI charges; the second concerned domestic violence. The "victim" in the DWI collision was a German shepherd, which died shortly after the crash. In the other incident, a woman was shot in the head and stabbed, and two officers were wounded. The victim had an order of protection against the shooter.

These stories brought home in vivid detail the compelling need for our lawmakers to enact and stringently enforce laws to quell the destruction of innocent people. Let's stop coddling criminals and replace useless laws with laws that have teeth. The time is fast approaching when we can no longer look the other way, find justification for or find loopholes for the carnage that is taking place. We need to realize what is important. It's not the next must-have pickup truck, house, vacation, or pills to lose weight or increase our anatomy. Right is right and wrong is wrong, not the reverse. It's time to treat others with respect and dignity.

Too simplistic or idealistic, you say? You decide. But remember, other countries are watching us, looking to us for guidance. What they are seeing is a country consumed by greed, spiraling toward ruin. Do we want another 9/1 1?

Frances Ortolano
Buffalo

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>Crash reveals dedication of volunteer responders

You see them rolling around your town -- a new pumper truck, a new SUV for the chief or assistant. They have rebuilt fire stations, and state-of-the-art equipment and training. Lots of money spent, and some say, for what? Anyone who's asked that question has recently received an unfortunate answer. It is a question that need not be posed again.

Some politicians have chosen to question our local emergency agencies' intentions and spending. While it is easy to criticize from an outsider's perspective, it must be difficult for all those professional volunteers to understand. They know that they spend tireless hours preparing, training, responding or just developing camaraderie.

The time spent away from their families, preparing for the worst, has all been put in perspective by the tragic events of Feb. 12. While we pray we will never have to deal with something like this again, we all now know anything is possible. Even in your quaint little town or village.

There should be no further politically motivated questioning of their intentions. These folks are, and always have been, our true heroes.

Steve Socha
Depew

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>Flying on autopilot may have been mistake

I did not realize that commercial planes fly into Buffalo on autopilot. If it was necessary to turn on the de-icer 11 minutes into the Continental flight, why not manually fly the plane? It's just over an hour and there are two pilots.

Many of us have been on the Thruway going past Batavia on a windy day. It's a different experience as a passenger in a car, rather than driving it.

Sandra W. Myers
Williamsville

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>People of all faiths commit heinous crimes

I wanted to write regarding the recent News headline, "Muslim influence speculated in slaying." Could you please offer proof, in Arabic, from the Quran or the Hadith (authenticated prophetic sayings and actions) that would justify such a headline?

The crime is heinous, and the perpetrator was certainly not acting out of faith. I worked in the Franklin County Morgue for many years. Methodists, Catholics, Jews and atheists all participated in heinous killings of spouses, but never did responsible journalists attribute their crimes to their faith.

It seems that only Islam is held accountable for the horrific actions of Muslims while those of other or no faith are alone, and rightly so, held accountable for their individual actions. If someone were practicing their faith, they would never perpetrate such a crime.

Azeeza Mohamed
Cheektowaga

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