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Forum, July 14: Support the excellent care at Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Published: 7/13/2020 10:00:12 PM
Modified: 7/13/2020 10:00:08 PM
Support the excellent care at Norris Cotton Cancer Center

Since being diagnosed in February 2013 with multiple myeloma, an incurable blood cancer, at Norris Cotton Cancer Center, I’ve benefited from the established national standard of care. But I can only skim the surface of my deep appreciation for how the culture of care exceeds expectations in the cancer center’s work, its recognition of patients as individuals and its openness to correcting oversights.

I’m continuously impressed that most medical staff take cues from patients on how much information they want. Physicians and nurses focus on confirming shared necessary understanding of treatment plans. If you want to know more, there are options. My oncologist answered my questions with highlighted articles from medical journals. Attentiveness to patient preferences is a crucial, intangible element of quality care.

The precious time of my oncology team was supplemented by Patient and Family Support Services programming. One expertly facilitated six-session workshop on living with cancer helped motivate better coping in numerous dimensions of life. While encouraging positive psychology, it neither sugarcoated reality nor prematurely silenced complaints. For example, it assisted in improving skills for accurately communicating legitimate dissatisfaction with insurance companies, medical staff and particular departments. At national patient conferences, I’ve compared notes with myeloma mates who would welcome similar programs in or near their treatment centers.

Kudos to the Blood and Marrow Transplant Program! Even when I was utterly debilitated, I noticed how exemplary communication led to compassionate efficiency. When someone in charge adjusted a protocol for me, everyone monitoring patient behavior knew. I didn’t have to explain it repeatedly to different shifts. My recovery was easier because of such carefully calibrated flexibility.

I sure do hope this year’s Prouty is as successful as it has been in previous years. I’m acutely aware that insurance payments to hospitals do not cover direct and indirect costs. Fingers crossed for a transformed health care delivery system in the future, but in the meantime, philanthropy is more essential than ever.


West Lebanon

NH energy policies are focus of Thursday presentation

While these past few months have been incredibly painful, both locally and across our country, there is another issue that scares me much more. With a strong will and care we will eventually conquer the coronavirus. However, I’m deeply concerned about whether, in not that many years, we will have a world in which my children and grandchildren (and yours) can survive.

Vermont has been very aggressive in terms of promoting renewable energy, but New Hampshire? Not so much.

On Thursday, from 10:30-11:30 a.m., April Salas, Hanover’s sustainability director, will moderate a presentation for New Hampshire residents to help provide a better understanding of the state’s energy policies, policies that affect us all. It may also help in evaluating candidates’ positions in this year’s elections. Henry Herndon from Clean Energy New Hampshire will be the presenter, with time for questions and answers to follow. To register go to:

You can make a difference.



Gen. Lee was indeed a traitor

Forum contributor Chuck Townsend wrote that Robert E. Lee “was cruelly racist, even for his times and among his fellow Virginians ... but that doesn’t make him a traitor” (“A cruel, brutal killer, but not a traitor,” July 7).

This is what the U.S. Constitution has to say about treason (Article III, Section 3): “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. ...”

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was the commander of all the Southern armies, which waged war against the United States for four years, from 1861-1865. Without his leadership, the War Between the States would have ended much sooner.

Yes, Lee was a traitor, as defined by the Constitution.



Online education requires adequate monitoring of exams

Many faculty members at universities are especially interested in seeing how their schools will be handling online teaching this fall.

From my own brief experience with it this spring, I’ve seen how well lecturing and providing online help to students via the internet can work. Also, video lectures have the added advantage that students can see them multiple times at their convenience. Two issues of significant concern, however, are the feasibility and reliability of online examinations.

Although some universities have used online proctoring services prior to COVID-19, the practicality of using such services, and their overall effectiveness, warrant careful consideration.

One main issue is making sure all students have the necessary hardware, software and Wi-Fi.

An even bigger issue relates to academic integrity. There are many ways for a student to take advantage of the internet, hired professionals, cheat sheets and other means to achieve higher grades on exams.

In Germany, the University of Hagen has had considerable experience in online teaching. In fact, it is the only distance-learning university in Germany and is its the largest university, with a student body in excess of 80,000. While it relies largely on online teaching, it requires that all examinations be taken on campus. Could that be used as a model in the United States, with teaching done via the internet and students brought back to campus to take exams in a conventional way — on paper, in the absence of electronic devices, in a room where proctors watch over them?

Because of the pandemic, this would require students to be tested for COVID-19 before returning and to sit 6 feet apart in the test room. Also, many students would have to travel long distances to return to campus. Perhaps reciprocal arrangements could be made with other universities so that testing could be done close to a student’s home.

In the absence of adequate proctoring, the veracity and the ultimate value of online education could be called into question.



Supporting Alford-Teaster for New Hampshire Senate

I am writing this letter in support of Jenn Alford-Teaster’s candidacy for the New Hampshire Senate from District 8.

Alford-Teaster was brought up by a single mother with very limited resources, so she has a special understanding of the struggles that so many families are experiencing and a special interest in making life better for these families.

Her position on key issues should appeal to the wide electorate, not just struggling families.

On the opioid crisis, she wants to increase the resources available to address this problem. On public health, her focus is on improving access in rural communities, and as a public health professional, she is an advocate for evidence-based health policy. On jobs, she advocates for expanding vocational training and apprenticeship opportunities. On the environment, she will support efforts to reduce carbon emissions, expand renewable energy and clean transportation options.

Even though her platform is ambitious, she is a strong advocate for fiscal responsibility and achieving as much as is possible with the available resource and within the current budget.

Jenn Alford-Teaster has what it takes — the enthusiasm, motivation, background and a well-rounded platform — to be successful in the Senate and to beneficially serve the residents of District 8 and all of New Hampshire.



The writer serves on the board of the Grantham Democratic Town Committee. The views expressed are his own.

Commentary showed getting the kids outside is worthwhile

I thoroughly enjoyed Josie Bourne’s commentary about the gratitude she now feels to her parents for their insistence that she spend ample time outdoors in her youth (“When it comes to getting kids outdoors, parents know best,” July 4).

It became a daily routine this past spring for my wife and I, in the midst of pandemic-imposed home schooling, to say to our 8- and 11-year-olds: “You must go outside! We don’t care what you do, but head outside. Please don’t come back for an hour.”

Combine that with things like mandatory hikes every weekend, walking to the post office instead of driving, finding family sports to play in the cold winds and, well, ultimately a parent asks, “Is this really worth it? Will they someday seek the outdoors on their own accord and maybe even thank us for exposing them to it?”

If Bourne’s experience runs true for us, indeed they will.



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