We, the undersigned, are seasoned healthcare leaders who have examined data on environmental factors which contribute to illness among local Glades area residents for many years. Collectively, we have worked with hospital and healthcare leaders for decades to assess public health data that inform the setting of healthcare priorities for our region. Communication among healthcare colleagues is vital for the overall health of the communities, and helps ensure human services providers across the region work together to address common issues and concerns. We are informed leaders aware of the public discussion related to environmental concerns in our region, including possible impacts from farmers’ harvesting practices such as pre-harvest sugarcane burns.
As we have reviewed the public health data from the past five years, we have not seen an uptick in emergency department visits based on disease codes that could reflect air quality health challenges. In fact, the public data reflects that air quality is better in rural communities than in surrounding urban communities in Florida. Flu season, seasonal allergies and many other factors contribute to respiratory illnesses from October to May, which coincides with when sugarcane harvesting activities occur. To stay vigilant, we assess annual Florida and national data sets for air, water, healthcare challenges, and more to monitor any change in the environments of our communities, which may indicate if an action should be taken.
As you consider some of the many statements made about the quality of air in Hendry, Glades, Palm Beach and Martin Counties, please consider that some of the most prominent healthcare professionals in our region have provided data based assurances that the Glades communities have among the cleanest air quality in the entire state of Florida.
Jeff Beal, former Medical Director, HIV/AIDS Section, Florida Department of Health, M.D. Patricia K. Dobbins, M.S., R.N.
Wilhelmina Lewis, MD, President & CEO of Florida Community Health Centers