A Giant Cheering Sound
Hopefully my thank you letter will arrive way ahead of all others, particularly any from executives or administrative types who, no doubt, will attempt to scold you for writing such a thorough and clear disclosure of such a dominant, self-serving health giant ("Sutter's Giant Sucking Sound," Jan. 21).

It's pathetic that a newspaper had to reveal what's been kept hidden and shrouded from staff for months, as opposed to a timely and honest meeting or memo from the management or other overpaid executives.

One prominent group frequently ignored by all hospitals is the clerical staff. Ever since health care reforms were set in continuous motion, giant health care management companies (HMOs), doctor groups, and insurance businesses have all been scrambling to keep their piece of the financial pie. These so-called financial reforms have negatively impacted the hospital clerical worker who's had to do the job formerly done by two or three laid-off workers.

In but one shameful example, I'm seeing the same hard-working group of clerical and office workers daily working to contain costs in order to be a financially viable health care provider organization. Meanwhile, these payroll cost-saving measures, purchased at the price of ignored and mistreated non-union clerical workers, are really being used to overpay either some tax-sheltered executive or investment group.

Name Withheld
Alta Bates Hospital

Counseling, Not Pressure
In "The Illusion of Roe v. Wade" (Jan. 14), Matt Smith wrote, "Plunkett says her staff manages to talk two-thirds of the women who walk through their doors out of getting an abortion." I neither said this, nor came close to saying such a thing. What I did say was, "60 percent of the women we consult with who are contemplating abortion carry to term and 40 percent have abortions."

In reviewing 153 of our most recent responses from patient evaluations, when asked: "Did you feel pressured or feel like the counselor had an agenda?" 82 percent said they experienced no feeling of pressure, 13 percent didn't answer that question, and 5 percent said yes. With an issue this sensitive, I believe our numbers stand for themselves.

Our job is not to talk anyone out of anything. We train our counselors to neither direct nor coerce a woman's decision. Often we're asked, "What would you do?" Our response to that question is, "It's not what I would do; the question is what are your values and what is your heart telling you to do?"

Abortion is legal, and from where I sit, it seems firmly entrenched as a part of American life. Do we want women to make fully informed decisions in all areas of their lives, even with an abortion decision? I believe we do. And recently we did a survey in the Financial District and found that 54 percent of women who said they would "abort unplanned pregnancies" said they would appreciate receiving pre-abortion counseling, which involved a non-pressure environment, information on all options, and complete confidentiality. This shows there is a real need for our services in the Financial District.

Shari Plunkett, President and CEO
First Resort
San Leandro

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