Drug-addicted, thieving nurses (Nursing chaos, March 7) are not the biggest danger to patients. Toward the end of my 12 or more hours working at breakneck speed in the intensive care unit, I am without rest.

The Institute of Medicine reports that 44,000 to 98,000 U.S. patients die annually from medical errors Ñ this is the crisis. The profit-motivated health care system cuts nursing staffing and creates heavy workloads and conditions where errors are not caught. This is distressing to nurses and many are leaving the profession. Blaming the Oregon State Board of Nursing and nurses for this work environment is off the mark.

The Oregon Health Division has the responsibility to ensure hospitals and nursing homes are safely staffed. The Portland Tribune should investigate how they do this. Has the Health Division responded to reports of unsafe staffing? What sanctions have been put on hospitals and what happens to whistle-blower nurses?

As a registered critical care nurse practicing in Portland for the last 20 years, I have witnessed a dramatic decline in quality of care that is scary. I have advice for hospitalized patients Ñ you need your family with you, and together, you should be sure the care you receive makes sense. Recognize that the medical team is working very hard, but if there is not enough staff to provide safe care, call the Oregon Health Division.

Shawn Schmelzer

Northwest Portland

Transit mall issuenot pedestrians' fault

Thank you for Nick Budnick's insightful article on pedestrian safety concerns regarding the new transit mall proposal (TriMet kicks pedestrian study to curb) in the March 7 Portland Tribune.

I would like to take issue with one particular comment. The article mentioned that 'TriMet officials say they plan to 'educate' Portlanders through public outreach as well as jaywalking sweeps to encourage compliance with existing laws.'

I work downtown, I do not drive, and I place a very high value on downtown Portland's walkability and pedestrian-oriented plan. From my experiences as a pedestrian downtown each day of the working week, it is not the people on their feet who pose safety issues, but those behind the wheel.

I come close to losing my life nearly every time I attempt to cross the street at a protected crosswalk.

I have seen pedestrians break rules. Sometimes they cross the street against the light. Sometimes they even run out in front of cars. That kind of behavior is indeed against the law, but these lawbreaking drivers are more of a threat to everyone's safety than some kid playing chicken with a Subaru on Southwest Broadway.

I want to see more emphasis on enforcing laws for drivers before any attempt is made to 'educate' pedestrians. It is not jaywalking that poses a threat to my safety. It is the witless, self-possessed, incompetent and impatient community of downtown drivers nosing up on the pedestrian at protected crosswalks that I'm truly concerned about.

Alison Heppner

Northeast Portland

Exclude pedestrians from downtown core

I have a solution to the whole bus mall reconstruction flap. The basic problem seems to be that accidents are inevitable as buses and trains, when picking up passengers, 'serpentine' around each other, and scofflaw pedestrians bolt out into the street.

The solution is obvious: Ban pedestrians from downtown. Think of it. No stopping means no serpentining. Everybody stays in their conveyance of choice until they're safely out of the downtown core. No barriers, no strobes, no re-education. Schedules can be adhered to without the annoying delays attendant upon picking up passengers.

We can then pass a downtown 'sit-lie-walking around-standing there' ordinance, and Portland can boast the largest exclusion zone in the world.

Chris Porter

Northeast Portland

Convict's charms not front-page material

It must have been a slow news day to cause you to resort to upgrading local scum to front-page status (Wyatt, perp, Feb. 24). Isn't there anyone in the whole metro area who's doing good things, uplifting things, law-abiding things?

Can you not find better things to do with your 'award-winning' paper than mentor future thug scum on how to make the cover of the Portland Raggune?

Dan Bangle


Voters do their bestwith what they know

Quotes from your excellent report: 'Grove also attributed much of the opposition to media coverage of other spendy publicly backed projects,' and pollster Lisa Grove commenting, 'Voters don't understand some programs are funded by federal money and some by local improvement districts' (Schools backers look for solution, Feb. 21).

On the one hand, it is unfair to blame media coverage, which discloses facts, rather than blaming the voters. But Grove's comment on voters does have a tiny grain of truth. I, personally, am ignorant of nearly all of the human knowledge achieved throughout the history of the world. That does not eliminate my responsibility to vote.

Democracy is an experiment designed to find out if the masses can significantly shape their existence and do so as well as an authoritative elite. That means that we listen to all citizens, not just the certifiably wise. I am always uncomfortable with democracy, and know of no better system.

Marvin McConoughey

Tiger Island (south of Corvallis)

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