This Week's Letters to the Editor

Bill Will Harm Immigrants

A term like "illegal alien invasion" brings to mind movies that portray creatures from outer space attacking our planet. It is truly a heartless term when used for our brothers and sisters who are struggling to feed their families, living in shanties at best, working for less than $1 a day. It is with great concern and disappointment that I see that House bill H.R. 4437 passed on Friday. I too supported the defeat of House bill H.R. 4437 but for very different reasons from Mr. Akers [Our Readers Write ... or Wrong, Dec. 15].

H.R. 4437 will bring about severe and unjust consequences for immigrants and the nation. It is an overly broad and extremely punitive bill that is far broader in scope than illegal immigration. It will unduly harm immigrants and their families, including immigrants who currently are lawfully residing in the United States. And it will pose grave risk to immigrant children and people fleeing persecution.

There are some particularly egregious provisions of the measure. H.R. 4437 will deny basic due process protections to legal immigrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers. The expansion of expedited removal to within 100 miles of U.S. land borders could result in the return of bona fide asylum-seekers to their persecutors without providing them access to a qualified adjudicator.

In addition, Sections 201 and 203, taken together, will make "unlawful presence" a crime, rather than a civil violation, as it is under current law. It is a strongly held view that the overwhelming majority of migrants who are in the United States without legal status are not criminals but are trying to contribute to our country through their hard work. This provision would needlessly clog our courts and other law enforcement systems with needless litigation and adjudication; foreclose the option that many might have to legalize their status; and cause great harm to migrants who did not come to the United States illegally by their own choice.

Finally, H.R. 4437 does not contain provisions necessary to solve our immigration crisis, including an earned legalization program, a temporary worker program, or family-based immigration reform. It also does not address some of the root causes of migration, including economic inequities in sending nations. In short, the enforcement-only focus of this legislation will only drive migrants and their families further underground, into the shadows, and will not prevent migrants from attempting to enter the United States to find employment.

Joan Harper, La Cañada

Open Letter On Healthcare

In the world of healthcare, each day truly holds a new adventure. When physicians, nurses, and the other members of our healthcare team walk through the doors of Verdugo Hills Hospital each day, they rarely know what the day will bring.

This year began with a tragedy right here in Glendale: the train derailment that claimed ten lives and injured hundreds. Passengers were taken by ambulance to hospitals throughout Los Angeles County -- from Valencia to Long Beach. Verdugo Hills Hospital accepted 26 patients from this incident while continuing to provide emergency services to other community members. The exceptional efforts of our entire staff were later recognized by the County Board of Supervisors and state emergency management officials.

As the year progressed, we continued expanding and growing our capabilities to serve our community.

In January, we staffed our emergency department with ambassadors who provide comfort and support for patients and their family members.

In February, we completed a renovation of the medical/surgical unit, making it a more comfortable area for patients and staff alike.

In March, we added a computer-aided detection system for early breast cancer diagnosis.

In June, we opened a renovated gastroenterology department with added equipment and increased capacity.

In August, we received the maximum three-year re-accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

In September, we completed the implementation of a digital imaging system that allows physicians to capture, store and view radiological images online.

These developments are just a sample of the growth and activity taking place at Verdugo Hills Hospital, and none of it would have been possible without the support of our community. Local residents and referring physicians have confidence in our facility and know that Verdugo Hills Hospital stands for excellent, personalized and compassionate care. We are thankful for that trust. We are also grateful for the community's financial support whether through a donation, bequest or participation in a fundraising event. That generosity ensures that Verdugo Hills Hospital will continue to grow and prosper, offering the most advanced medical technology in the most caring of healthcare environments. So, as the year draws to a close, I want to say "thank you."

While each day here at Verdugo Hills Hospital may be unpredictable, one thing never changes -- our commitment to providing exceptional care, exceptionally close to home.

Warm wishes this holiday season,

Leonard LaBella, CEO, Verdugo Hills Hospital

More on Medicare Plan

The Letter to the Editor I wrote on How to Choose a Medicare D Prescription Plan was published on page A14 in the La Cañada Valley Sun on Thursday, Dec. 15. In response to questions I have received, the following information also may be of help to Medicare recipients in our area.

There is another important step. Once you have enrolled in a plan, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor(s) to get new prescriptions to send to the company you choose or to the mail order pharmacy once you have been registered. To get the cheapest prices, have each prescription made out for a three month supply (90 days) and for a generic, if your doctor approves your using a generic, and if one is available.

If you sign up by December 31, 2005, your coverage will start on January 1, 2006. If you enroll in January, your coverage will start on February 1, 20006. If you don't sign up by May 15, 2006, and later decide to do so, you will pay a higher premium. Don't worry if you don't like the plan you picked. Between November 15 and December 31, 2006, you'll be able to change plans without penalty.

If you have any further questions, call Medicare at 1-800- MEDICARE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Or better yet, if you have decided on a plan but not yet enrolled, you may get more specific information, by calling the company that is offering the plan you desire. Most of them have a website on the Internet. Their phone number is listed on the Medicare website when you "View the Plans."

Bill Cunningham, La Cañada

A Holiday Thank You

Does it seem at times that the holidays are suddenly here? So much to do, so much yet we wanted to accomplish. This time of year is always busy.

Lost in the rush of everyday tasks though, should never be the time to say thank you. I want to personally express thanks to you and the community for another great year for our YMCA.

This year has been significant. We are pleased to watch our membership grow and continue to be grateful to the community for the ongoing support. Our new facility in Tujunga, the Verdugo Hills Family YMCA, has become a gathering place for teens and youth in a supervised environment. Each afternoon the Haaga Family Gymnasium is filled with the sounds of bouncing balls as youngsters practice their dribbling. The Wellness Center is filled each morning with busy adults staying healthy, and the pool is filled with swimmers enjoying a warm respite from the cool weather. From the play yard in the Learning Tree Preschool comes the sound of giggles and learning, as the youngsters recite their ABCs and practice their reading. The Verdugo Hills Family YMCA is, we believe, a true asset to the community.

At the Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA, our tree lot continues to be a popular place to acquire the Christmas spirit. Our youth have been working days and evenings cutting and delivering trees. We sell trees to the community and the net proceeds benefit our youth programs. The biggest benefactor is the Youth & Government Program, which takes over a hundred high school students to Sacramento for a five-day hard working experience in hands-on governing. Both the experience on the tree lot and the trip to Sacramento contribute to knowledge that is never forgotten.

Our YMCA has seen many successes this year. We continue to offer a great facility, whether you join the cardio group on the exercise machines or the relaxing waves in the pool, your health is improving. New classes this year, from the very popular ballroom dancing to golf conditioning, focused on an array ways to get healthy. The new roof and the bigger cycle room demonstrated that we are still trying to meet the needs of our members. And the new equipment that will be put into the Wellness Center in late December help us continue to please our members.

The list of highlights this year is endless, as is the list of individuals who financially support our YMCA and individuals who donate generously of their time. It is a partnership shared by countless people. Throughout the year so many give to help us, but at no time is it more noticeable than during the holidays when many visit the Y to buy their trees, to purchase a gift membership, join in a holiday event, or even come in for some relaxing exercise during the hectic holidays. The unending list of community groups, organizations, merchants and individuals all make the YMCA a stronger organization and a vital part of the community we are proud to serve.

At this special time of year and on behalf of this terrific community organization, thank you for another great year at the YMCA. To you our wishes for a wonderful 2006.


Ken Gorvetzian,

Chair, Crescenta-Cañada YMCA Board of Directors


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