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July 6, 2000


Heart program suspended

Citizens' review not needed?

Wood Fair this weekend

Seeking Samoa dunes input

Joy of being average

Town hall meeting in Arcata

Good service awaits

Heart program suspended

Heart surgery at St. Joseph Hospital's Heart Institute has been temporarily suspended pending the arrival of a new cardiac surgeon. That means from July 1 through July 10, anyone needing emergency heart surgery at the hospital will be stabilized and flown out of the area for treatment. Other patients using St. Joseph may choose to delay surgery.

Other area hospitals -- General in Eureka and Mad River in Arcata -- routinely transport cardiac surgery patients out of county to larger heart surgery centers in the state. The fourth county hospital, Redwood Memorial in Fortuna, is part of the St. Joseph Health System network.

The heart program suspension also interrupted other cardiac catheterization procedures, such as angioplasty performed by cardiologists, because such operations require back-up surgeons on call.

The suspension is the result of a gap between the departure of chief surgeon Timothy Trotter, whose last day was June 30, and the arrival of the new surgeon, Dr. Joachim Poste. Poste will arrive this week and will oversee the restart of the program July 10.

Poste is a native of Germany and was chief cardiac surgeon for Cedars Medical Center in Miami. Since 1998 he has served on staff of Good Samaritan in Los Angeles.

This is the second time the heart program has been suspended. The Heart Institute opened in May 1997 and was closed just three months later to review its record of six deaths in 40 procedures. The program was reopened in August 1998 when Trotter was hired and has performed about 100 surgeries.

"We have had only one death, a 90-year-old emergency patient," Trotter said last week.

Trotter told the Journal in April that despite the program's current success, he was resigning due to a lower-than-expected volume of patients and lack of a resident back-up surgeon.

A surgeons group headed by Dr. Marshall Marchbanks of Santa Rose currently provides back-up services and is expected to continue.

Hospital spokesperson Laurie Watson-Stone, reached by telephone Monday from Orange County, headquarters for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange, the parent corporation, said many of the employees involved in the heart program are on vacation this week.

Citizens' review not needed?

If the police watch over us, who should watch over the police?

Apparently, the police should.

After a lengthy study, the Humboldt County Human Rights Commission has issued a report that gives the existing internal review systems for reporting police misbehavior a passing grade. Following some controversial arrests at forest protests in 1997, there had been a call for a citizens' review board with investigative and subpoena powers to look into alleged police misconduct.

"That isn't warranted," said Humboldt County Human Rights Commissioner Jennifer Shoffner. "People complained that there was no process by which they could make a complaint of police misconduct," but that the commission had found there is a system in place, the existing internal review systems. Shoffner said the problem was ignorance on the part of citizens.

"They just didn't know how to use it [the complaint system]," she said. "People don't know what's available. They feel like they're up against this wall of blue. And that's not true; there's a legitimate process for complaining."

The role of the commission should be to help explain and facilitate the process. To do that, the commission has a specific member assigned as a liaison for each policE agency in the county.

But there may be inherent flaws with a self-policing complaint system.

Samantha Liapes, hotline director for watchdog group Bay Area Policewatch, said, "Police officers often refuse to testify against each other. When decisions about misconduct are made behind closed doors problems get swept under the rug.

"Unless there's effective independent -- and the key word is independent -- review of police departments, they can easily become breeding grounds for corruption and misconduct," Liapes said.

Wood Fair this weekend

Shoppers and woodworkers alike can help support a local industry this weekend by visiting the 11th annual Wood Fair, hosted by the College of the Redwoods.

"It's a celebration of our heritage and what wood has done in our county," said Carol Ryder, interim director of community education. Woodworking demonstrations and a juried competition with prizes worth more than $3,000 will be featured, with bluegrass duo Sean and Mike keeping the shindig lively.

It's a good chance for local woodworkers to market themselves, Ryder said. "The vendors sell immediately," and people interested in custom furniture can find talented artisans.

The event runs from noon-5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $1, with seniors and students free.

Seeking Samoa dunes input

Citizens wanting to comment on management of the Samoa Dunes Recreation Area may submit comments at a meeting July 6 at 6 p.m. at the Arcata Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management at 1695 Heindon Road.

"There probably isn't going to be a debate," said Bruce Cann, BLM outdoor recreation planner, but there is room for the public to help decide how grant funds should be spent. BLM has received $48,000 a year for the past two years from this grant program and proposes a larger grant this year to help monitoring of rare plants and animals.

[RAINFALL CHART]Joy of being average

As the rain season ends, Humboldt County residents have something to be thankful for: mediocrity.

This past autumn and winter were an almost textbook wet season, with rainfall levels at 97 percent of average. Around here, that's not trivial, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jeff Braun.

"We didn't have any real major flooding," Braun said, because of the moderate rainfall -- 36.4 inches from July 1, 1999, through June 30, 2000.


Town hall meeting in Arcata

Arcata's City Council will host a town hall meeting July 12 at 7 p.m. in the Senior Room of the Arcata Community Center.

Citizens are welcome to discuss any issues, but there are two areas of special concern: the hiring a new city manager to replace Keith Breskin and the new "Neighborhood Improvement Program," which will distribute grants to groups for neighborhood projects.

Call 822-5953 for more information.

Good service awaits

The Humboldt Bay Service Corps, a local affiliate of the AmeriCorps National Service Program, is recruiting members. Participants spend a year providing environmental education and other services to the community. Participants are eligible for the AmeriCorps scholarship, $4,725 toward student loans or future education. Call 445-0913 for details.


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