Letters may be edited for clarity and length. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or send to Letters to the Editor, c/o OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or fax to (714) 550-5908.
I am writing to say that Nick Schou's Feb. 17 story titled "People Will Die" had factual inaccuracies that were attributed to me that must be corrected. There is a need to be factual to maintain credibility. I have great respect for physicians and nurses who work at Western Medical Center and their mission. The hospital is not reusing scalpels, but they were buying cheaper scalpels that did not work as well. The basic thrust of the story is true. Physicians must have input in setting hospital budgetary priorities. In my opinion, the medical staff seeks transparency, accountability and reform. These are serious issues. The owners of the hospital are suing me, a physician on the staff for nearly 25 years, because I spoke out about quality of care at my hospital. That is wrong. Physician advocacy for quality of care is not an option; it's our oath. California Business and Professions Code 2056 says physicians are obligated to advocate for quality care for their patients and that they cannot be retaliated against for doing so. The fundamental issue here is re-establishing a balance of power between hospitals, patients and doctors so that all the voices in the hospital are heard. It's about getting the money where it needs to go.
Michael Fitzgibbons, M.D.
Having been involved in the fight to preserve our local hospitals, I read with great interest Nick Schou's article on Dr. Michael Fitzgibbons at Western Medical Center-Santa Ana. Unfortunately, the reader may be left with the false impression that Western Medical Center is not a safe place to receive treatment, which is certainly not Dr. Fitzgibbons' real message. This does a grave injustice to the high quality of health care that has and continues to be delivered there, in spite of these difficult financial circumstances, and demeans the efforts of the vast majority of dedicated health-care workers and doctors who work and practice there. The critical point of the article in my opinion, and one that Dr. Fitzgibbons has heroically and consistently stood for in the face of a lawsuit, threats and an active disinformation campaign by the hospital's owners, is that these hospitals are vital resources for our communities and must be protected and preserved at all costs for the sake of the public good. Physicians are gravely concerned that these hospitals are being allowed to run down and, if steps are not taken, may end up being closed, with potentially catastrophic consequences for our county. Ultimately, ownership of these hospitals must be considered a public trust: they serve too important a function to be used as mere financial playthings for greedy entrepreneurs, corporations or anybody else. And as doctors, it is our duty and obligation to stand up for these hospitals; we owe it to our patients, ourselves and our communities. That Dr. Fitzgibbons could be sued for telling the truth and taking this stand is an outrageous affront to free speech and the responsibility of all Americans to do the right thing, wherever they are, in whatever way they can.
John B. Luster, M.D.
Chairman of Family Practice, St. Joseph's Hospital, Orange
Medical Executive Committee, Chapman Medical Center, Orange
ODE TO BILLY JOE
Editor's note: The following letters are in response to R. Scott Moxley's piece about white-supremacist murder suspect Billy Joe Johnson, who says he was beaten by deputies at the Theo Lacy jail ["The Trials of Billy Joe, White Supremacist," Feb. 17].
I was interested in your article about Billy Joe, white supremacist. It was too bad you sympathized with that piece of shit! Don't you think that Nazis deserve a beating like that daily? I've been to jail, and yes, the cops aren't nice. I was treated like crap, even slammed against a wall for no reason other than jumping forward when a male cop completely grabbed my balls looking for WMDs or something. But really, isn't that what jail is supposed to be? Billy Joe is a shithead and a hypocrite for using Mexican and Japanese lawyers. If people like him were beaten and dragged through the streets—treated the way he treats people—this would be a nicer place to live.
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I really don't appreciate sitting down to dinner, picking up my favorite mag—OC Weekly—and seeing pictures of someone I have known my whole life beaten to a bloody pulp. Not only that, but the opinions of the author are ridiculous. Has Moxley ever sat down with Billy Joe? What about the cops that did this to him? Are they being brought up on charges? Probably not! And why—because Billy Joe has a criminal past, so he must be a low-life scum, right? I really hope that this is not the kind of stuff I will come across again in your mag. I know when Billy Joe's family is made aware of this article, they are not going to be pleased.
Steve Lowery, I was reading your "Diary of a Mad County" and spit chili burger all over my shirt, laughing my butt off. You owe me a new shirt and a desk blotter.
Lowery, you are, by far, the damned funniest and talented writer in the joint. Keep it up. You rock. Don't ever change. All that crap.
ANGER IS AN ENERGY
I read your story about pedophile priest Eleuterio Ramos [Gustavo Arellano's "King of the County Pedophiles," Dec. 16]. I spent about 20 minutes cursing the SOBs responsible for this. These stories are not new; I have read them over and over, but every time I do, they infuriate me.