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Change the rules for nursing homes

It's mind-boggling that regulations set no maximum temperature

Rogue Valley residents are delighted by the cooler temperatures ' even rain! ' this week. But we're sure no one is happier than residents of nursing homes whose rooms are not air-conditioned.

If you thought last month's record-breaking heat was uncomfortable, imagine being confined to a bed with no way to cool off.

A Mail Tribune report last week revealed that, while the state requires nursing homes to maintain a minimum temperature of 70 degrees, regulations set no maximum allowable temperature. That needs to be fixed, certainly before next summer and preferably right now. This summer isn't over yet, and August can be just as beastly as July.

We can understand how regulators living in the naturally air-conditioned confines of the Willamette Valley might not think that a maximum temperature limit is necessary. But Southern Oregonians know better.

We also are confident that not all local nursing homes resemble the Waterford at Three Fountains, where the building is air-conditioned but some patient rooms lack ducts. And we know most nursing home operators and staff are dedicated to their patients' comfort.

— But in a region of the state where triple-digit temperatures are commonplace in the summer months, it is unforgivable that no standards exist in state regulations.

Lisa James, who saw to it that her 91-year-old grandmother was moved to an air-conditioned room after the temperature in her room topped 90 degrees, is pushing to change those regulations. The Rogue Valley Council of Governments will discuss the issue soon and make a recommendation to the state.

We urge RVCOG to make this a top priority and to recommend that state regulators take emergency action.

A small price

People shouldn't get too lathered up at the designation earlier this week of 7,574 acres of vernal pools in the Agate Desert as critical habitat for the vernal pool fairy shrimp by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The estimated loss in land value from the designation is &

36;3.5 million, according to recent economic analysis. That's a small figure these days.

The vernal pool fairy shrimp emerge from the soil when fall and winter rains create shallow pools. Development and farming have wiped out 90 percent of them.

In recent years farmers, ranchers, business and commercial representatives and others have worked with government agencies and conservation groups in the listing process. The parties reached a consensus about what was needed for the natural heritage of future generations and what was needed for development.

Designation does not set up a refuge. It merely codifies restrictions on development that were already in place, and economic development officials say developers already have been working around the vernal pools.

Oregon held hostage

Number of days the 2002 Legislature has been in session: 208,

as of today

Previous record: 207