The care you need
Thumbs up to PMH Medical Center in Prosser for its innovative solution to a serious gap in patient care.
The hospital's new community paramedics program uses trained paramedics already on staff to make home visits to recently discharged patients who need extra attention.
An increasing number of patients are too sick to be on their own but not sick enough to be hospitalized or qualify for in-home care.
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And too many end up back in the emergency room for symptoms that could have been alleviated by good follow-up care.
The paramedics make sure discharged patients are doing OK -- and that they follow up with their primary care physicians.
The program is funded by a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the federal Centers For Medicaid & Medicare Services and is expected to save the hospital $1.8 million in needless expenses.
That's a healthy return.
Thumbs up to our congressional delegation.
We recently called on Energy Secretary Steven Chu to make development of small modular nuclear reactors a priority and suggested the Tri-Cities would be a prime location for a pilot project.
As much as we like to believe our influence extends to Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C., we'll concede that members of Congress hold more sway over decisions made in the Forrestal Building.
That's why we were delighted to see nine of Washington's congressional leaders write Chu, encouraging him to create a small modular nuclear reactor project here.
Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., led the effort to get both of the state's U.S. senators and seven of its U.S. representatives to sign a letter sent to Chu last month. Gov. Chris Gregoire sent a similar letter in late May.
U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, the ultra-liberal from Seattle's 7th Congressional District was the only member of the delegation who didn't sign. (The 1st Congressional District seat is vacant after Jay Inslee resigned to run for governor.)
Plenty of reasons exist for selecting the Tri-Cities. A trained work force, identified need for additional electricity, a supportive community and viable site are readily at hand.
But even good ideas are doomed inside the Beltway without political support. The broad, bipartisan support the modular reactor program enjoys in Washington state is a crucial element.
Nice try, but no cigar
Thumbs down to the state Attorney General's Office for arguing that state courts have no right to decide if the Legislature acted illegally when it extended cigarette taxes to the roll-your-own variety without the two-thirds approval required for new taxes.
Franklin County Superior Court Judge Bruce Spanner rightly rejected the argument and granted a preliminary injunction against the tax that went into effect Sunday.
There is a legitimate debate over whether taxing smokes produced by sophisticated roll-your-own machines that consumers rent is a new tax or just a clarification of what constitutes a cigarette for taxing purposes.
If it's a new tax, the two-thirds rule applies. If it's just a matter of putting a new product in the appropriate category under existing tax laws, a simple majority might be enough.
Either way, it's a fundamental question of whether the actions of our state lawmakers were legal, and the court is the appropriate place to find the answer.
The courts are the only recourse for state residents who believe they've been harmed by an illegal state action. It's galling to hear our top law enforcement office argue otherwise.
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Thumbs down to us for misunderstanding the basis of the grievance filed by Benton-Franklin juvenile detention officers over their meal breaks.
They claimed they were not getting 30-minute meal breaks as required by state law and the collective bargaining agreement, and reached a $49,000 settlement with the counties.
The issue was about getting breaks, not about interrupting breaks to deal with emergencies, said Russell Shjerven, union business representative.