Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor for July 9

Focus on costs, patient well-being

A June 28 editorial regarding Capital Medical Center vs. Providence St. Peter Hospital presented many of the basic points relevant to our community and the choice to be made in the provision of heart procedures.

There is an added dimension I encourage The Olympian to explore: quality, medical judgment and why decisions like this need to bring overall costs of care into the discussion.

A recent article by Atul Gawande in The New Yorker addresses the cost conundrum.

The cost of providing cardiac care in this community will undoubtedly go up if the state decides in favor of Capital Medical Center. Physicians will present the range of options for diagnosis and treatment to patients who are fearful about their symptoms. The need to get at least 300 cases a year will influence those discussions. The fact that this represents $1 million or $2 million worth of business each year will influence both those discussions and decisions.

This pressure to achieve success is inflationary. More fear and more tests will be generated given these conditions and the public will be no better off for it.

I believe choice and costs will both be increased yet the public’s health and well-being will not be improved one bit.

Is this how we should spend money when there is not enough to go around?


Base council votes on isthmus issue

I attended a forum featuring candidates running for two of the four open positions on the Olympia City Council. A league of Women Voters moderator acknowledged that “the elephant in the room” was the City Council’s approval of a rezone that now paves the way for the erection of two condominiums, sitting sidewalk to sidewalk between 4th and 5th avenues, across from Heritage Park.

Perhaps you’re concerned about the isthmus issue too, but may not have time to closely follow the upcoming campaign. You might put this letter on your fridge — sort of a mini-voters pamphlet for the Aug. 18 primary and the Nov. 3 general election.

If you’re excited about 5- and 7-story condominiums on the isthmus, then vote for council members Jeff Kingsbury and Joan Machlis and Amy Tousley, chair of the Olympia Planning Commission and staunch advocate of this condo project.

Their unambiguous support for developer Triway Enterprises resulted in an increase of building height limits on the isthmus from 35 feet (previously) to 90 feet. Furthermore, the targeted lobbying efforts of Machlis at our state capitol this past winter helped defeat passage of Senate Bill 5800, which aimed to protect the isthmus area as a “shoreline of statewide significance.”

However, if you prefer new thinkers on the City Council who opposed that rezone vote, consider Jeannine Roe, Stephen Buxbaum, Karen Veldheer, Janine Gates and Karen Rogers. Meet them in your neighborhoods or online, read their campaign literature and then cast your vote in these crucial city elections.


Recognize that bicyclists have rights

A writer asked why cyclists choose to ride in the road instead of the bike lane and wondered, “Are they deliberately so self-indulgent and self-righteous?”

While there are cyclists who do not always act responsibly or safely, I want to respond on behalf of the large number of cyclists who do ride safely and follow traffic laws.

There are a number of reasons that a bicyclist might choose to ride on the road with car traffic and one of them — a big one — is safety. What may seem like a “beautiful, safe, paved roadway” to Coffman can often be full of glass, gravel, debris and other hazards that drivers may not notice.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has a Web page (www. wsdot.wa.gov/bike/laws.htm) summarizing bicycle laws. Among them are RCW 46.61.770 which states that “cyclists may choose to ride on the path, bike lane, shoulder or travel lane as suits their safety needs.” RCW 46.61.755 says, “when riding on a roadway, a cyclist has all the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver.”

Instead of choosing between “clipping a bicyclist or swerving into an oncoming car,” why not simply slow down, allow the oncoming vehicle to go by and then safely pass the cyclist?

Nothing can undo the tragic loss that the letter writer and her family experienced, but we can all try to make the roads safer for cyclists by understanding bike laws, recognizing cyclists’ rights to be on the road and setting a good example for other drivers.