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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Letters to the Editor

Want to improve air quality? Hop on a bus or train

A Red Line train heading south pulls into the CTA’s Monroe Street station in the Loop on April 30. (Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times)

I’m writing about the July 7 Sun-Times story, “Better breathing now, but more bad air days likely for Chicago due to climate change.”

Chicagoans need to know that one of the best ways to immediately and positively impact our air quality and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions is to choose public transportation. With more than one million trips per day, emissions from public transit vehicles make up less than 2% of the region’s transportation emissions. Passenger vehicles such as your car, truck or SUV account for 59%.

Electrification is not enough; Transit is our strongest tool in the fight against climate change, and riding transit also improves the health, safety and vibrancy of your community. 

Kirk Dillard, chairman, Regional Transportation Authority

SEND LETTERS TO: We want to hear from our readers. To be considered for publication, letters must include your full name, your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be a maximum of approximately 375 words.

Girl’s death shows migrants need better medical care

An 8-year-old girl survived heart surgery and the long trek from Honduras to Texas with her family, but died in custody of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. How did this happen?

Having read the report, which included the child’s documented history of sickle cell anemia, a positive test for influenza and a progression of symptoms, we can’t help but worry about future immigrant children.

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder, with a potentially fatal complication called sickle acute chest syndrome. The condition is often triggered by respiratory infections such as influenza and can quickly escalate to the point where hospital care or even intensive care and ventilators can be needed. For all these reasons, the standard of care for acutely ill sickle cell patients is evaluation in emergency departments with blood tests and X-rays.

The gap in knowledge is typical for a rare disease and frontline medical personnel are not expected to be familiar with every condition. However, access to specialized medical expertise should be readily available to the frontline personnel of the CBP. We have devoted our careers to helping children with sickle cell disease and other blood disorders and we would have been grateful for a phone call from a health care provider at the border asking for advice about this patient.

We implore the CBP and Chicago’s immigration intake system to establish a better method for considering the needs of complex immigrant patients, particularly children and seeking specialty medical expertise when questions arise. CBP and immigration centers should tap into the resources and volunteers available from a wide range of professional organizations and institutions, for the health and safety of all in custody.

Lewis Hsu, MD, Ph.D, director of pediatric sickle cell, University of Illinois at Chicago and volunteer chief medical officer, Sickle Cell Disease Association of America
Paige Reilly, M.D., University of Illinois Chicago

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