EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 6, 2013

Your view: Letters to the editor

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Hospital, doctors, saved my leg

To the editor:

A few years ago I was diagnosed with arthritis which spread through my body rapidly. It was fast and fierce and my left knee was most severely effected. I sought the help of CORE Orthopedics and it is there my journey began.

I had several surgeries and complications. In February 2011, I was in ICU at Exeter Hospital with a temperature of 105 degrees and an infection in my knee that turned septic. My fears were relieved when Dr. Thomas McGovern and Dr. Roger Nowak came to my rescue. Their fast thinking and quick work saved my life. The day was Valentine Day and I’ve never felt more cared for and loved in my 36 years than I did by the doctors and staff that were working at Exeter Hospital. Now that they had saved my life, the next question was how were they going to save my knee?

Because of the serious situation, I sought second opinions at Boston hospitals that specialize in orthopedic care. The dire opinion of both specialists was amputation because, in their opinion, my knee would never be a candidate for a total knee replacement. After delivering the news to Dr. McGovern, he assured me that he and Dr. Kristen Lee, an infectious disease doctor, would create a plan for my care. My participation on this team would be to have patience, follow their orders, and trust them. They removed my PIC-line in August 2011 and monitored me closely. Dr. McGovern gave me the much anticipated news that he would perform total knee replacement surgery on Jan. 31, 2012. During my recovery in the orthopedic wing at Exeter Hospital the specialized professional staff oversaw my care and therapy with such expertise that I was discharged on Feb. 2, 2012.

Dr. McGovern treats the total patient with care and concern because he is a truly awesome person and doctor. Dr. McGovern’s mission was to save my leg. My mission is to inform your readers the excellent facility, physicians, and staff found at the Exeter Hospital.

Thank you, Dr. McGovern, for my new knee and for a bright future I never thought I would experience. I will be forever grateful to you and Exeter Hospital.

Amy Rimas


It was a pleasure to serve you

To the editor:

I would like the voters to know that I am deeply grateful to all of you for 12 memorable years as your Governor’s Councilor. It has been an honor and a privilege.

Happy New Year to all.

Mary-Ellen Manning


Inmates have a right to medical care

To the editor:

State Rep. James Lyons’ outrage about a court ruling that a transgender inmate receive gender reassignment surgery (GRS) at taxpayer expense displays a profound ignorance of basic constitutional rights under the Eighth Amendment (“State Rep. Lyons seeks to make ‘profound point’”, Jan. 1). Under the Eighth Amendment, prisoners have long been held to have a right to adequate treatment for their serious medical needs. We may not like every outcome, but this is what we do in a civilized society.

In ruling in the case of Michelle Kosilek, a convicted murderer who sued the Department of Correction (DOC) for refusing to treat her Gender Identity Disorder (GID), Judge Mark Wolf concluded what every court to have addressed this issue has: GID is a serious and legitimate medical condition recognized by medical professional organizations and identified in all major medical texts. Wolf also found that there is an established course of treatment (known as the Harry Benjamin Standards of Care, named for the endocrinologist who pioneered them) that includes hormones and GRS in appropriate circumstances and that the denial of treatment for a patient with severe GID leads to serious self-harm, mutilation and likely suicide. Multiple experts hired by DOC concluded that GRS was medically necessary for Kosilek.

Rep. Lyons has decried the ruling, and the legal fees the state must pay Kosilek’s lawyers, on the grounds that law-abiding citizens aren’t given the same state-funded medical treatment as incarcerated criminals. I share his outrage about the untold numbers of people who cannot access necessary medical treatment for GID or other serious medical conditions.

But regardless of whether that great injustice is remedied or not, prison officials are still constitutionally obligated to provide appropriate medical treatment to prisoners. As Judge Wolf noted in his ruling, DOC provides many inmates with Hepatitis B medication, which costs $18,000 annually per inmate; others receive costly dialysis treatment.

We don’t pick and choose which inmates get treatment. We can’t carve out a wholesale exception for transgender inmates who are prescribed a course of treatment by a doctor. We can’t do it for murderers either. This is long established law.

Lee Swislow

Executive director

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders