On Dr. Ming Lin

  I am a nurse, working at the Veterans Administration. I’ve worked at PeaceHealth, so I am familiar with their corporate culture. 

  Dr. Ming Lin, a 17-year emergency department physician at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham, was fired for speaking out publicly about the lack of proper safety protections and policies for frontline doctors and nurses. Dr. Lin, a physician for over 30 years, worked at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City when 9/11 happened — he has experience in public health crisis situations.

  There is widespread outrage about Dr. Lin’s firing, specifically in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we need experienced physicians.

  The public deserves honest, transparent information. PeaceHealth must reevaluate how they have mishandled communications and preparedness. This isn’t about recriminations, it’s about reminding PeaceHealth — now — that they must be honest going forward. The truth will always emerge, so it makes more sense to be transparent. Admitting you haven’t done everything right is never easy, but it is a sign of strength and leadership.

  Nurses at St. Joe’s have filed complaints with the Washington State Nurses Association pertaining to PeaceHealth’s actions and the hospital’s failure to provide a safe work environment. The American Academy of Emergency Medicine issued their position and statement on Dr. Lin’s firing. Check these out at: https://www.wsna.org/news/2020/statement-on-firing-of-dr-ming-lin-and-silencing-of-nurses-and-doctors; and https://www.aaem.org/resources/statements/position/firing-of-dr-ming-lin.

  A foundational principle in healthcare is, “If you see something, say something.” That’s precisely what Dr. Lin did, but he was fired for honoring his sense of duty.

  PeaceHealth must abide by its mission statement. Sadly, they are not right now.

— Rebecca Rech Cutler, Bellingham

Take a breath

  The liberal class of America is complaining how large companies are affecting their lives by corporations not giving their profits to satisfy their wants (called envy). They want government to tax the be-geebers out of corporations.  

  Understand that companies employ masses of people who pay taxes. Do you realize those employees also buy shares in these same companies, along with thousands outside these companies buying stock in these same companies and the company has to pay dividends out of said profit? If the company losses money, where are those complainers? 

  If a business asks for tax relief, instead you’d rather drive them into the ground. Now I know why:  You don’t run a business and never could.

  Envy is ruining our nation, each person feeling they are worth more than their co-worker, and the inflation goes on with no one the richer. With a depression, no immediate person will ever forget it.

  The outcome of this COVID-19 pandemic has one bright spot. While everyone is locking themselves up, in nine months we will have a child boom. Take a breath, Margret, it all will pass.

— Darryl Ehlers, Lynden

Let’s do our part

  Sinclair Lewis authored, “It Can’t Happen Here” in 1935.  Lewis’s novel was propelled to popularity by a sense of urgency that the United States, like some countries of Western Europe, might unleash unimaginable dark forces.  Fast forward to COVID-19. While the issues are different, there are parallels between Lewis’s terrifying certainty that “it” could happen here to what is happening in Italy as it attempts to tame COVID-19.

  Italy has a good medical system. The overwhelming catastrophe unfolding in Italy’s wealthy Lombardy region could happen anywhere, even here in Whatcom County. 

  Italy is learning that hospitals might be the main COVID-19 carriers. Infected patients pass the contagion to uninfected patients. Ambulances and personnel become vectors. Health workers are asymptomatic carriers. There must be rigorous hospital and population surveillance. Test hospital workers first. Use mobile testing units. Surveil the community ... every corner of our county.

  Family Care Network was quick to utilize more telemedicine, as one step, to keep staff and patients out of harm’s way. FCN also quickly implemented parking lot temperature and symptom checking before patients enter their clinics.

  For the mildly ill, deliver early oxygen therapy, pulse oximeters and nutrition to where they live. Hospitalization would be limited to the severely ill. We’re in a humanitarian and public health crisis. It is not just an intensive care crisis. 

  In hospitals, protection of medical personnel must be prioritized. As one local emergency department physician stated, citing his concerns about provider safety going unaddressed, “We don’t need more donuts and pizza, we need protective equipment.” That sentiment is repeated around the country. How did the world’s wealthiest nation get caught so flat-footed?

  Let’s all do our part to help frontline providers stay safe. And then when this pandemic is over, let’s prepare better. Because it can happen here, and there will be a next ... and a next time. 

— Micki Jackson, Bellingham