Letters to the Editor, March 8

Mar. 07, 2014 @ 02:09 PM

David Epstein’s triple threat

The Triangle, and the state of North Carolina, lost a gift to the world of academic medicine with the passing this week of Dr. David Epstein, chairman of the Ophthalmology Department at Duke, and chair of the Duke Eye Center. Dr. Epstein’s career was marked by a tremendous passion and enthusiasm for patient care excellence, innovative research and medical education (i.e. the triple threat).

The current construction of a new Duke Eye Center facility was championed by Dr. Epstein and will further his commitment to providing patients with not only the very best in eye care, but a venue in which the patient experience will be paramount.

Dr. Epstein was an internationally recognized expert in glaucoma care and treatment and his research was continuing to make an important difference in patients so afflicted. Lastly, his medical students, residents and fellows were always considered prominently in his plans for his department and in his counsel about the broader Duke community. Dr. Epstein had a gift for mentoring all who asked.

In a world of increasing financial pressures in healthcare delivery, Dr. Epstein found a way to focus on what mattered most. We promise to carry on that vision of the triple threat to which he held so dear. We will miss him greatly.

The letter, sent by Dr. Joel Morgenlander on behalf of the group, was signed by the chairs of the clinical departments, Duke University School of Medicine and Private Diagnostic Clinic.

More modern approach on marijuana

It was disappointing to hear a member of the Durham Human Relations Commission perpetuate ancient myths in “Panel begins drafting Durham police recommendations” published March 4.

Commission member Jake Kliatchko voted against recommending making marijuana possession our Lowest Law Enforcement Priority because it would “open the door to bigger problems.” I believe Mr. Kliatchko may underestimate the problems the prosecution of these charges currently create for our young people.

Simple possession charges, which this change would reduce, disproportionately affect our youth, and almost always result in suspension in addition to legal problems. Removing students from school and pipelining them into the criminal justice system is without a doubt “opening the door up to bigger problems.” I can only conclude Mr. Kliatchko would prefer to spend our tax dollars ripping young people from school than to let go of a failed policy the majority Americans oppose.

Thankfully this type of thinking is losing ground across the country and more elected officials are catching up to public opinion. Our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., recently decriminalized simple possession down to a $25 fine, and numerous states have done the same. Passing this recommendation wouldn’t be opening the door to bigger problems, it would be opening the door to more sensible and effective public policy.

I urge our City Council to take a more modern approach and pass the Lowest Law Enforcement priority when it comes before them.
Rachel Lima