What's really going on?

Editor's note: The following is an open letter to Mark Biscone, Interim CEO Pen Bay HealthCare:

Mr Biscone:

I am not a doctor, nor a nurse, financial expert nor hospital administrator; However, I am a person who has been diagnosed with cancer, treated extremely well by Dr. Ramdin and her staff, and I, along with many others, have questions about what is really going on at PBMC.

Mr Biscone, absolutely no one I have talked with is happy with your decision to not renew Dr. Ramdin’s contract. Furthermore, I have not heard very many positive things about the Sussman Hospice House. What I hear most are many questions that are tinged with confusion and fear.

Perhaps you might clear up for us some of the confusion and fear that we have, by giving straightforward answers to our questions. And please, please do not insult us with the glib answers people have received from you up to this point, about how much we will love Dr. Connolly once we get to know her, and that our cancer care will remain unchanged. Our cancer care cannot help but change. Whether or not we like Dr. Connolly is not the issue. Two NP’s and one DO cannot be expected to oversee the care of nearly 1,000 patients in the same way as they have been cared for up until now. To infer otherwise in your answers is in my opinion rather condescending.

Herein are my questions, and I am certain they represent only a sampling of the myriad of questions that have been circulating in our community since your announcement.

1.Will the patient be assisted in his/her actual process of passing from this life into whatever awaits them, as a patient at the Sussman Hospice House, or is it merely to serve as a temporary place for terminal patients, in order to give respite time to their caregivers?

2.Will there be a full-time Physician on staff at the Sussman Hospice House?

3.Why was raising money for a hospice center for terminally ill patients, at a momentous price per bed, given precedence over raising money to pay the salary for a full-time Oncologist who could potentially prevent more patients from reaching the terminal stage?

4.Why does it feel like an either/or situation? Hospice or Oncologist?

5. If you respect the opinions of your medical staff advisors on the Interdisciplinary PBMC Cancer Care Committee, why then are you totally ignoring their votes to maintain a Full time Oncologist on staff at PBMC?

6. Why was Dr.Connolly chosen over Dr. Ramdin to be the Oncologist to serve both hospitals? You have been quoted as saying that Dr Ramdin was not even considered, and yet her credentials and experience are clearly superior to those of Dr.Connolly.

7. The number of cancer patients is not decreasing. Cancer patients are very likely to think twice about getting care at PBMC once they find out that Dr Ramdin has been replaced by a part-time Oncologist, serving two hospitals, and no Oncologist with an MD on staff. Did you consider that this change in personnel has the potential to lose money for the hospital, rather than saving money?

8. Did it occur to you, when you made these decisions, that the cancer patients are the most vulnerable group of patients at Pen Bay Medical Center?

I sincerely hope that your conscience can live with your answers to all these questions, but especially with regard to that last question.


Pat Putnam



'Bearmageddon' overstated

I have questions and concerns about the position adopted by Gerry Lavigne in the Herald’s July 31st guest column. Mr. Lavigne, a biologist, supports the continued use of bait, dogs and traps in bear hunting and, thus, he opposes voting “yes” on the relevant referendum that will appear on the November ballot. I have done enough research to know that not all biologists agree with Mr. Lavigne’s outlook, but I take his points seriously, and I concede that I do not have the scientific training required to refute his claims that without human intervention the bear population will increase to an unsustainable level.

What I can say, with the courage of my convictions, is that hunting animals by means of baiting them, giving chase with dogs, and setting traps is inhumane. To be convinced of the cruelty of these practices, envision yourself in the position of a hunted animal or imagine your beloved pet in that scenario. Furthermore, the word “harvest”, when used in the context of hunting, is a euphemism employed by those who are deluding themselves and seeking to mislead others. The word is “kill”, and when you force yourself to employ that term and face what actually happens to animals, you will find it much harder to justify actions that are perfunctorily endorsed by certain scientific and bureaucratic reports.

I am unwilling to accept that a compassionate solution cannot be found for every so-called problem. Therefore, even if the “bearmageddon” Mr. Lavigne predicts can be viewed as plausible, we ought to be able to develop humane strategies that will enable our species to live in harmony with all others. What is the purpose of the (supposedly) superior human brain if not to work toward the alleviation of all suffering? We are nothing more than bullies – and that is putting it mildly – if we use our intellectual advantages to inflict pain on other creatures.

Animals act on instinct rather than with malice aforethought, and they should not be vilified, tortured and killed for doing so. And anyone who has been in the company of animals also knows that when their actions transcend instincts, they demonstrate remarkable empathy, often protecting and befriending members of other species, humans included, even in the absence of a self-interested motive. I wish we would all strive to emulate that behavior.


Amy Smereck



Jim thanks you

To anyone that was in any way involved in the production of "A Night for Jim", the performers, sponsors, Studio Red, the parents who supported the performers, and all at the Camden Opera House. Sitting in the audience for that benefit show was so heartwarming and humbling for me and my family. Getting a serious diagnosis can feel isolating and yet the community support we have felt in the last few months has quelled any negative feelings brought on by this disease. The people of the Mid Coast demonstrated how to see a need and fill that need based on their skill and what they love to do. They all can step into the future boldly and meet any challenge they face. There was so much love in that room on that night that I could not help but feel more healed when I walked out of the opera house than when I walked in. My family thanks you all from the fullness of our hearts, full because of all of you.


James Buckley



Muffins and Tea at the Death Cafe

I'm heading out to Michigan to spend time with my mother. She's almost 99 and I'm sure to hear her tell me every day, "Jory, I'm so tired of this. I just want to get 'out of here' ". When I first began to hear this mantra a few years ago, my engineer's mind tried to figure out how I could specifically respond to this apparently heart-felt plea from one I dearly love.

I thought of getting some sort of 'final pill' from Oregon, where such assistance might be legal. I also talked with my mother about ceasing to eat, as I remember Scott Nearing did when he had reached a similar age. My many sisters however made it abundantly clear that I was getting out of line. So I began to settle down on the subject, and to resume being one–generally passive–member of our large and diverse family. Perhaps my job is simply to listen to my mother, I thought; to love her, and to flow along with a unique and mysterious end-of-life drama which I cannot control or influence.

When I saw that a "Death Cafe" was to be held in Rockland, I immediately put it on my calendar. Perhaps this type of event, born in England, and held recently in two local towns, would move my process along. As I passed the grey, tombstone-shaped placard outside the library, I felt a spooky fear. Wasn't there something more pressing on my calendar, this beautiful summer evening?

Inside was a circle of about 30 people, almost entirely strangers. Our convener, Peter Lindquist, with little ado, launched us into an hour-long circumnavigation of that circle. The stories, fears, anticipations poured out with little hesitation. Each one let us examine more closely a piece of the puzzle that every human must assemble or avoid. What a gold mine! I've recently been trying to perfect a foreign language I speak well, and this 'death language' had a similar fascination and frustration. Many people gathered here were quite fluent.

One woman, though she felt there was no definitive 'operator's manual' for the support of a dying person, had encountered the "crossings.net" community. Their support had allowed her to gently and respectfully transform her caring process. I wondered if my large and stiff Episcopalian family–who plan to call in the professionals at the very instant of death–could ever shift in this direction. Yet I envied this woman's empowerment and the completeness of her grieving process. Another in the circle, a man, was fearful of the bodily changes which might follow physical death. How embarrassing they might be. I'm sure this concern, this unknown, lies behind many of our decisions.

Sitting next to me was a bright, well-groomed, fortyish woman, who, when her turn came, began talking with total aplomb about her terminal diagnosis and upcoming death. She was clear, strong, and shifted easily between occasional cheerfulness and speaking through a mist of strong feeling. I kept doing a double-take. This strange fluency was shaking my social conventions. Yet like a moth to a flame, I felt pulled into her orbit. I wanted just these qualities.

After a break for refreshments, we again spoke in turn, this time planning our own funerals. We discovered how some of us were comforted by traditional forms, while a majority favored more spontaneity, and even unedited storytelling. We hungered for catharsis: some sort of quiet shift toward acceptance. I discovered that, contrary to my professed indifference, I actually had lots of thoughts and feelings about funerals. As before, through sharing we were developing ease and fluency amid a minefield of social taboos.

After some goodbys, while leaving the building, I passed the same tombstone on my way to the car. This time there was no spookiness. I had braved the Death Cafe, and I was keen to come again.

Jory Squibb



Friends of Rockport Public Library Position Statement

In light of the current controversy concerning the Rockport Public Library, the Board of the Friends of the Rockport Public Library wants to reaffirm the position statement that was unanimously adopted by the Board in May 2013.

After discussion about what role the Friends of Rockport Public Library should play in regard to the future building plans of the library, it was agreed that we do not feel it is appropriate for the Friends Board to take a position for or against any current building plans for the library. We intend to support the library wherever it is located.

The Friends plans to remain neutral in the discussion about the future location of the library in order to concentrate on our mission, which is to provide financial and volunteer support for the operating expenses and programs at the Library. We encourage community members who have specific questions and comments to make their views known to the Chair of the Library Committee, Kathleen Meil, or to the Library Director, Ann Filley.

Thank you,

The Board of the Friends of Rockport Public Library

Vote for Miramant

Voters in State Senate District 12, which encompasses all of Knox County except for the town of Washington, should elect Dave Miramant, whose legislative record clearly defines his goals for a Maine that values conservation of the environment, educational opportunity, consumer protection and responsible planning for the future.

Maine faces critical issues across the board, and Dave Miramant has championed legislation that demonstrates his belief that government can be a positive force in protecting and enhancing the lives of citizens. As a member of the Natural Resources Committee from 2006-2008, Dave promoted sound environmental initiatives, including bond issues for land and water access, support of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, updating dioxin monitoring, and minimizing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-powered facilities.

A graduate of the University of Maine Farmington, he believes in the importance of a strong educational system that is available to all, including ensured access to community colleges and integrating secondary and postsecondary education.

Consumers can be assured he will fight for them, as he has already done in such areas as low-income energy assistance, protection against predatory lending, equity in funding for women’s health services and maintaining the affordability of DirigoChoice. Dave is committed to family protection as well by making domestic violence a crime.

His emphasis on long-range planning includes taking a hard look at the viability of municipal landfills, developing a comprehensive water use plan and ensuring accurate designation of floodplain areas.

We are fortunate to have a candidate with Dave Miramant’s expertise and concerns for Maine’s future. I hope you will join me in voting for Dave for State Senate District 12.

David Farmer



Fulford offers unique opportunity

Jonathan Fulford offers a unique opportunity to set straight many of the policy shifts promoted by Paul LePage and his Tea Party pal in the Senate, Mike Thibodeau. Jonathan Fulford supports the citizens of Waldo County over the interests of large corporations and understands that reducing taxes for the wealthiest results in rising overall taxes for the majority of us.

Sen. Thibodeau runs a political action committee called “Paving the Way for a Prosperous Maine,” which, since its inception in September 2011, has received contributions from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a proxy for the Koch brothers and affiliated entities like Pharma, Spectra Energy, and the American Chemistry Council.

Thibodeau is also a member of the ALEC Communications and Technology Task Force. ALEC invites ideologues like Thibodeau to legislative retreats where they push their corporate agenda and urge attendees to pass legislation written by corporate lobbyists. These bills pursue an increasingly extreme agenda and lead to partisan gamesmanship so familiar to us with LePage and Thibodeau in office.

These corporations do not have the interests of Mainers in mind, and neither do the elected officials who follow their directives like sheep. It’s time for real representation for Waldo County. I will vote for Jonathan Fulford for State Senate because he has a vision for the future of Maine, a future that does not include selling our state to the highest corporate bidder.

John Krueger