Michael O'Meara's cartoon for Aug. 26, 2021.

Letters to the Editor

SPH employee vaccination rate not OK

I was shocked to learn from hospital spokesperson Derotha Ferraro on a recent COVID briefing that only 68% of South Peninsula Hospital’s employees that work directly with patients are vaccinated against COVID. That means that 32% aren’t, or one out of three employees that enter your hospital room are not vaccinated. I am very disappointed in the employees and the hospital administration that tolerates this.

I hate to say anything bad about SPH because they have done an exemplary job of COVID testing, vaccinations and treatment. But this is shameful, and it is time to follow Providence Hospital’s lead and mandate employee vaccinations. Hospital employees have some of the best jobs in town in terms of security and benefits. Hospital patients are by definition weakened by disease or the after effects of surgery or childbirth. Patient safety needs to be paramount.

Poppy Benson

Appreciating Will Files

Will Files was enthusiastic about many things in Homer, the Center for Alaska Coastal Studies being one. Finally succumbing to his entreaties, I began participating in the organization and ended up serving a number of years on the center board — years in which several major events took place. Mike McBride hosted a fundraiser for the center at the Explorers Club in New York City. Thus encouraged by a significant augmentation of its budget, the board conducted a national search for an executive director, eventually hiring Marilyn Sigman.

And acting for the board, Ed Todd negotiated the purchase of the current headquarters building on Smokey Bay Road as well as the property across Skyline from the Wynn Nature Center. Will enthusiastically supported these moves. Service on the center board was deeply rewarding personally; I had became a beneficiary of Will’s enthusiasm.

And there was more to come. After selling our home in ’04, Sara and I returned to Homer for the summer months in our RV. During an after-church lunch with Will and Martha Ellen in 2008, Sara mentioned some of the venues she was considering for a gathering of friends. Later that afternoon Will and Martha Ellen contacted us and graciously offered the use of their home for the event. It was a fine gathering and turned out to be Sara’s last social event in Homer. In later years she often recalled the event and Will and Martha Ellen for their act of hospitality and kindness. Sara passed away in 2015.

Reflecting on Will’s long life and the major events in Alaska: he was born and raised in Territorial Days, saw the World War II population expansion, statehood, the Alaska Permanent Fund and dividend, resolution of Native land claims and creation of the Alaska Native Regional Corporations, the 1969 Oil Bonus Lease Sale and construction of the TransAlaska Pipeline, the Exxon Valdez devastation, and likely knew that a Seward girl was going to the Tokyo Olympics to swim for the USA.

Thank You, Will and Martha Ellen.

Jon Peterson, Sacramento, California

Thanks to all for transit van

Dear Homer Community and Youth Supporters Everywhere,

The R.E.C. Room wishes to express immense thanks to our community, Rasmuson Foundation and our hard working board of directors for a collectively pooled effort of resources, time and energy in helping us secure a 15-passenger transit van. We are beyond stoked to be able to provide transportation to the R.E.C. Room this school year and will be starting by offering this service to students at Homer Middle School. (Start date TBA as we’re still getting all the fine print worked out.)

Special thanks to Melon and Robert Purcell who have spent many hours supporting the research phase and travel to Kenai to take a look at vehicles. Truly gems of human beings … thank you, thank you! And thanks to anyone along the way who has supported us this past year. The outpouring of love for our little space has been humbling. The R.E.C. Room staff are unwavering champions of youth, and we truly believe that we are creating a safe and welcoming space for youth to empower themselves to lead happy, healthy lives. We can’t wait to keep connecting with you all this year.

Thanks so much and let me know if you need anything else from me. 🙂

Liz Pileckas

Files family appreciative

Words cannot express how thankful we are for the tremendous outpouring of love and care we received from the community of Homer after the sudden passing of our loved one, Wilfred C. Files Jr. Kind expressions of sympathy, prayers, flowers, meals and numerous acts of service helped us during our time of loss. Thanks.

Martha Ellen and The Files/Anderson families (Kirby and Amory Files and family, Bear and Annie Files and son, Stan Anderson, Ruth and Brad Brown and family, and Freya Anderson)

Homer proud!

Congratulations to the four Homer pickleball players — Ian Reid, Beth Benson, Janie Leask and Paul Knight — who participated in the recent Alaska Senior Games held in Fairbanks Aug. 10-12. All Homer pickleball players took home medals in their respective age brackets in which players play in the bracket of the youngest team member.

The results were: GOLD: Women’s Doubles (60-64) Janie and Beth, Mixed Doubles (60-64) Ian and Beth, (65-69) Janie and Paul, Men’s Doubles (60-64) Paul and Bruce Malard.

SILVER: Men’s Doubles (65-69) Ian and Clark Milne, Men’s Singles (65-69) Ian .

BRONZE: Men’s Singles (65-69) Paul.

This year’s Alaska Senior Games are a qualifying event for the 2022 National Senior Games to be held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida next May. All Homer players qualified to represent Alaska at these games.

Janie Leask

Prosecute the spread of misinformation

Although it is unfathomable why so many people believe it is their civic duty to inform the public about issues they have no expertise in nor the intelligence to do proper research on, we are nonetheless inundated daily by false narratives like the opinion piece “respectfully” penned by Mr. Sarber in last week’s Homer News. A very quick and easy search of the actual data concerning the global pandemic statistics clearly proves many of his statements (used to justify his opinion) are vastly misleading or completely incorrect.

Cherry-picking a point in time “(769 vs. 4,475 deaths)” on a nearly exponentially rising curve is meaningless, unless of course you are trying to mislead people. Suggesting that “… cases are already quickly dropping in countries around the world and experts are predicting the same will be true for this country” is a ludicrous and equally misleading statement. Yes, there are countries that the case numbers are dropping (for many reasons), but a quick look at the data shows that those countries are in the minority, and overall the cases are rising significantly, globally. And please provide us the credentials of the “experts” you are referring to.

The facts show that the United States continues to lead the world in both total case numbers and total deaths, followed by India, Brazil, France and Turkey. One must wonder if the unfortunate U.S. statistics are not at least partially the result of misinformation that has spread so rampantly in this country. Finally, showcasing Sweden as a country to “learn from” is laughable.

When adjusted for population, Sweden fared much worse than the U.S. in deaths per 100,000 during the last two spikes, and currently are just slightly behind the U.S. and much worse than their Scandinavian neighbors and 78% of the rest of the countries in the world.

Therefore, Mr. Sarber, although you are certainly entitled to your opinion, please educate yourself with the facts prior to sharing it. Maybe if we start prosecuting people for purposefully publishing false or misleading information it would make them think twice before doing so, and it is my strong opinion that our society would be much better off.

Best Regards,

Bob Swenson

Congregate and ‘en-courage’ each other

America is in peril. We must recognize our peril, decide what to do and act.

America is enduring a genocide and a mass illusion of fear and danger.

We the people are separated from each other. Because of our separated communities, families and economies are dying. American freedom is won when Americans congregate, decide what to do, and act. During the American Revolution we met in homes, taverns and churches and chose to rebel against the British crown. During slavery and the Civil Rights Movement, we congregated in homes and churches and sang and preached our way to freedom.

The constitution is the supreme law of our land. The First Amendment protects the right of the people peaceably to assemble. No government, from the U.S. Senate to the smallest city council, from the CDC to a state governor, may abridge our freedom to assemble.

“Shelter in place” tried to end our right to assemble. Fortunately, my church continued to meet. We allowed God’s love to move our lives. We hugged, smiled, spoke, shared potlucks, and sang our way through 2020 and 2021. None of us died. What my beloved church did, Americans must do: congregate, talk, and act, at school board meetings, churches, homes, cafés, city councils, music events, online events, taverns, streets. When we congregate we encourage each other. Armed with courage, we act.

Lindianne Sarno, Baker City, Oregon

Misinformation is dangerous!

All across Alaska, hospital executives and doctors are addressing city and borough assemblies to explain the dire circumstances of our current healthcare system during this latest surge of COVID-19. Our hospitals are full and the staff is exhausted. There are not enough critical care staff and beds to meet the needs of Alaskans. Our system has been described as on the verge of imminent collapse.

Last week, Central Peninsula Hospital executive, Shaun Keef, came before the Kenai Borough Assembly to give a report on the current status of and share concerns about the uptick of patients coming to the hospital with COVID-19. The response from Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce was a rambling, incoherent, unscientific based take on how he thinks our hospital should treat COVID-19d patients.

Mr. Pierce wants our doctors to treat COVID-19 patients with unproven, dangerous methods currently being touted by the far-right America’s Frontline Doctors. This group is pushing ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine as perfectly safe treatments/cures for COVID-19. Not a single FDA, CDC or WHO official, scientist or doctor supports using these items as a treatment for Covid. To read the comments made by Mr. Pierce, click this link: https://radiokenai.com/borough-mayor-charlie-pierce-criticizes-cph-coo-for-covid-19-patient-influ x-handling.

Mr. Pierce expressed no concern for the exhausted doctors and nurses, who are our friends, neighbors and families. These medical professionals stand, unfailingly, on the front lines doing all they can to save the lives of their patients while the Borough Mayor appears to make light of the suffering by recommending unproven, dangerous treatments. Mr. Pierce expressed no compassion regarding the level of COVID-19 infections in our community or state. He offered only mindless (and misleading) babble about unproven drugs used by America’s Frontline doctors. He callously challenged our physician’s treatment of COVID-19 patients. Mr. Pierce owes our hospital staff and our communities an apology for his blatant disregard of the current circumstances.

Additionally, other elected officials on the Kenai Peninsula have continued to ignore the data and allow politics to drive their decisions regarding the mitigation of COVID-19. They are not conducting themselves as leaders when they ignore the best information provided by the CDC, our local hospital and doctors and public health officials.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the doctors and nurses who continue to put their lives on the line every single day for each and everyone of us. Thank you to their families, who have also endured long absences of their loved ones while they work every day during a deadly pandemic.

As Alaskans, we want truth and accountability. We want decisions based on science driven data, not personal opinion. We want safe and healthy communities. We would appreciate it if our elected officials would work toward that common goal.

Fay Herold, Chair – Gulf Coast Democrats House Districts 29-32

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