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Thursday, Sept. 18, 2008 10:57 pm

Letters to the Editor

We welcome letters. Please include your full name, address, and telephone number. We edit all letters. Send them to Letters, Illinois Times, P.O. Box 5256, Springfield, IL 62705; fax 217-753-3958; e-mail editor@illinoistimes.com.

A MAGNET FOR NURSES

The underlying cause for the ongoing nurse vacancies in our hospitals is the short supply of nurses in Illinois and throughout the country. [R.L. Nave, "Critical Condition: How Springfield is handling the nursing shortage," Sept. 4].

Every hospital I'm familiar with throughout the state is recruiting for additional nurses to meet the growing demand for services. However, the number of graduates coming out of nursing programs is insufficient to meet the increasing demand and to replace the large numbers of baby boomer nurses who are retiring. Based on projections by the U.S. Health and Human Services Administration, Illinois will have a shortage of more than 21,000 registered nurses by the end of the next decade.

The importance of creating positive work environments for nurses is well recognized by hospitals across the country and in the state of Illinois. This is the primary reason for the exploding interest in achieving Magnet hospital status, a designation Memorial Medical Center earned in 2006. Magnet status is the highest recognition for nursing excellence awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the credentialing arm of the American Nurses Association.

The requirements of the Magnet Hospital Program are rigorous and scientifically based on more than 100 research studies that have identified the characteristics of organizations that attract and retain professional nurses and that are able to achieve optimal patient outcomes. Memorial and many other Illinois hospitals are putting significant resources into achieving compliance with Magnet standards, purchasing technology that will reduce the work burden on our nurses, and implementing flexible staffing options, shared decision-making processes and professional development and educational support for our current and future nursing workforce. These things will draw nurses to our hospitals and enable them to provide higher quality of care for their patients.

Research has shown that organizations that have earned Magnet designation have better patient outcomes, lower mortality rates, increased patient satisfaction, shorter lengths of stay and high levels of nursing satisfaction. We're proud to be a Magnet hospital and we're committed to continually raising the bar of nursing excellence.

Marsha Prater, PhD, RN

Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer

Memorial Medical Center

Springfield

ANGELS OF MERCY

I read with interest the article regarding the shortage of nurses. It's no wonder there is a shortage. Their pay is not that great, hospitals have no retirement, only 401k's, and they are worked like dogs. I have the greatest respect for all of them.. The care they give is from the heart and, believe me, the treatment they receive is anything but nice most of the time. An incentive of some kind of reimbursement for student loan debt might help this situation. They are truly angels of mercy. The nurse gets a lot of gratitude for doing the job because that's the career she chose and loves, but things don't add up to what they should do for them. I am a person who respects and admires all that a nurse does for patients.

Name withheld by request

Pawnee

SAVE NEW SALEM

If we don't do something now about cutbacks in hours and staff at Lincoln's New Salem State Park, as well as the other historical sites of Illinois, who is going to? It is time to stand up for our communities and our state heritage.

Please sign our online petition at www.x-gen.com. Click on the Berry Lincoln house picture and sign up now! And if you would, please forward this information to your family and friends or give them a call and ask them to sign up.

Illinois has a lot to offer to each resident. We are fortunate to be a part of an outstanding and caring community. People of Illinois have worked hard to restore and maintain our heritage; therefore, I am arming State Rep. Rich Brauer and Sen. Larry Bomke with the already more than 1,500 names of people backing them on this issue. We need to show that Illinois stands united. The future of our restaurants, grocery store, property values, home values, schools, teachers, doctors and the future of Illinois in general, depends on us.
Margaret Stier Santos

Petersburg

GAS GOUGING

On the day I'm writing, gas is $4.19 in Springfield. It is $3.57 in Houston. This is just wrong. Only Alaska and Hawaii have higher prices than us! Gouging us has become like a sport in Springfield. It is time for us to stop patronizing Springfield gas stations (and mini-marts) until they get the message. Our overpaid legislators won't do anything. It is time to let these thieves know that we are on to them, and have as many Springfield gas station "holidays" as it takes to put an end to this absurdity. How about if we stop buying gas (and mini-mart items) in Springfield for about two weeks (for starters), and vote for not a single incumbent in the fall election? A group of citizens needs to purchase a gas station and run it like a co-op. These gougers are the worst kind of scum. Please print this. Please let these scumbags know that we are on to them!
Bill Shaw
Riverton

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CRISIS BEING ENGINEERED

I find distressing an article in the current edition of The American Conservative magazine. The article, by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer and fellow at the American Conservative Defense Alliance, persuasively argues that "an overseas crisis is being engineered or allowed to explode." Giraldi cites the buildup of our forces in the Persian Gulf and Black Sea, recent U.S. incursions into Pakistan, European media reports of an imminent attack on Iran, and Vice President Cheney's visit to Georgia and Ukraine with massive aid to rearm Tbilisi, suggesting "all of this could have been deferred until after the election." Add to this McCain's harsh criticisms of Russia and the stage is set for a repeat of the 1980 "October Surprise" that essentially delayed Iran's releasing American hostages until after Reagan defeated "the hapless Jimmy Carter." Giraldi suggests, "Few believe that the ethically challenged Bush administration would hesitate to engineer its own Gulf of Tonkin to guarantee a GOP victory."

If McCain buys into this 2008 "Gulf of Tonkin," he deserves nothing less than resounding defeat­ for President as well as any re-election he may attempt. Such loathsome use of American military power is morally wrong and suggests the architects of such actions care nothing for the affected citizenry, but seek only to preserve their power.
Doug and Dee Hagan
Springfield

HONEST BIG GOVERNMENT

I'm wondering what we citizens will make of the growing failures in America's economic and governmental systems? Both political parties are being found irresponsible at best, and greedy and deceptive at worst.

America has the basic value of "individual human worth" as a foundation principle more authentically than any other nation. And so the nation still has the potential to be a godly force and presence in the world. But we seem to have strayed far from honoring it.

No party, candidate or religious movement has any monopoly on returning to the value of "individual human worth." An oppressive and greedy government is not only possible under a communist or dictatorial government but can happen, and likely has begun to happen, in a democracy as well. We need to be aware that an oppressive regime can develop right before our unsuspecting eyes, where national resources are squandered by greed and where there is a deep failure by leadership to be honest and responsible to the public. I see the Bush administration being such in an unprecedented way in American history.

An advanced country like America in today's world must have an effective and responsible big government if she is to survive. This election should be about who can best help America have a responsible, efficient and transparently honest big government.

Jim Hibbett

Riverton

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