Hospital safety

Is there no end to these damning reports on hospital safety in our region? Once again the respected Leapfrog organization has assigned a negative (“C”) rating to the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (“Two Novant hospitals in Triad gain national acclaim from Leapfrog,” Dec. 18). One of the reasons for its negative ratings may be that both the Medical Center CEO and University CEO have never thought the matter important enough to address it with a plan that would correct the low performance of the institution they oversee. Their PR division response, among other formulaic bromides, is that they (unfortunately) “prefer to be compared primarily with other academic medical centers.” Yet both the other such hospitals in N.C. have been assigned top scores in recent years (as has Novant’s Medical Park Hospital).

According to the Journal, Leapfrog’s researchers use “publicly available data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. ...” It “reviews 28 measures of patient safety, including such areas as error prevention, infections and medication mix-ups.” Compared with top-rated (“A”) hospitals, lower-rated hospitals have (on average) 35 (“B”), 85 (“C”), and 92 (“D” and “F”) percent higher risk factors for avoidable death. That is alarming and inexcusable — and responsibility goes all the way to the top.

We deserve (from the two top officials) both an explanation and a plan to take patient safety seriously.

Charles Lewis

Winston-Salem

Rally

Regarding the heart-grabbing Jan. 12 front-page headline, “Gunfight:” The entire community needs to rally around the lonely figure of Davidson County Sheriff Richie Simmons.

Our children could be involved through a drawing contest at the schools, where the kids could depict the horrific visages and dubious ethnicities of the “someone” who “comes to take their rights away.” Our older kids could be organized into watches as we sleep, aided with appropriate doses of methamphetamine to sharpen the faculties and enliven the trigger fingers. No longer should the brave sheriff stand alone in his heroic vigil.

James Thornton

Winston-Salem

Achieving equity

I applaud the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school board for valuing equity, but beg them to describe their plans more specifically. The abstract language in the Jan. 15 article “Panel backs equity policy” names admirable goals, such as “the removal of institutional barriers,” but fails to explain exactly what those barriers might be or how they could be removed.

This kind of “edu-speak” reminds me of the impressive sounding but vague jargon that was presented during the last decade of my 30 years of teaching high school and community college English. We were instructed to develop “outcomes measurement” — time-consuming paperwork that deflected our attention from our real work. Teachers are trained in curriculum design. They know how to assess the progress of individual students and redirect their learning when needed. In other words, they know how to teach.

If public money and valuable instructor time are going to be directed to equity policy, please let’s first understand specifically what that is and how it will be achieved.

Diana Calaway

Winston-Salem

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