The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Editorials

March 3, 2013

Readers' Forum 3-3 | Authority mess leaves much to ponder

— In listening to and reading the news regarding the ongoing controversy involving the Johnstown Redevelopment Authority, I am left with questions that I hope will some day be answered, including:

* Why did the authority’s board of directors not review the report by their outside audit firm in 2011 and immediately question or look into the comment regarding a known ongoing investigation?

* Why would the redevelopment authority board approve a 20 percent raise to $96,000 annual salary in December 2012 for a director who some members already knew was under scrutiny?

* When Conemaugh Health Systems leaders reportedly found out in 2007 about these payments (totaling more than $130,000), did they notify any legal authority? Was the city manager or mayor informed? How did Conemaugh find out? Did its internal auditors know about these transactions and, if so, were they disclosed in an audit? Was there any involvement with a Conemaugh employee(s)?

There are more questions I would like to ask if I had the space. I will leave that up to the media to explore. I have been pleased so far with its efforts to disclose the truth surrounding these improprieties.

The truth may end up involving more than just redevelopment authority employees. However, I am afraid that this may have been an attempt to cover up illegal activities that, if disclosed, would tarnish the image of the authority and Johnstown.

It’s time for the mayor and city council to explore how they can disband the authority and prevent any more wrongdoing from destroying any positive reputation Johnstown may have left.

Keith Santee

Westmont

Budget cuts harmful for kidney patients

Kidney disease hits one in 10 Americans – neighbors and loved ones – who, without dialysis or a kidney transplant, will not survive.

During March, which is National Kidney Month, let us consider the far-reaching effects of this disease and what we can do to protect this vulnerable patient population.

As a caregiver at DaVita’s PDI Johnstown, I care for 107 dialysis patients, more than 80 percent of whom depend on Medicare for this life-sustaining treatment.

As policymakers in Washington consider further budget cuts and prepare to enact a 2 percent “sequestration” cut, they, too, must consider the devastating impact these cuts will have on the care available to my vulnerable kidney failure patients.

The Medicare system is still adjusting to 2011, 2012 and 2013 changes and cuts and doesn’t cover the full cost of patients’ dialysis treatments. With additional cuts, I fear facilities in Johnstown could be forced to close their

doors, forcing patients to travel long distances to receive care, dialyze at a hospital emergency room, which costs the system more, or forego some necessary care altogether.

U.S. Rep. Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) recently visited our dialysis facility to learn more about the vital services we provide. I appreciate his taking the time to learn about kidney disease and kidney failure and the effects additional cuts might have on our patients.

I encourage readers to contact Rothfus to urge him and his fellow lawmakers to protect our patients in Johnstown and Cambria County who rely on dialysis care.

Deborah Hubbard

Johnstown

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