Despite fish kills, toxic algae blooms, unsafe beaches and an annual dead zone in the Lake Michigan bay sparking concern across the region, the level of phosphorus loading has changed little over the past two decades, and even gone up in the past couple of years. “I’m part of the problem,” said John Pagel of Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy, one of the largest farms in Wisconsin, at a summit hosted by U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble in Green Bay. “But I’m also part of the solution.”
Phosphorus flowing into the bay causes fish kills, toxic algae blooms and an annual dead zone. “I felt it was important to bring the stakeholders together, and see if we could maybe stop pointing fingers at each other, and start pointing fingers at solutions,” Rep. Ribble said about the April 1 event he’s hosting.
Attorneys for families of residents say that facilities’ failure to report serious injuries or deaths related to abuse or neglect is not uncommon. Far more often, they say, the state health department only learns about a case of alleged neglect or abuse after a family member files a complaint. Advocates for health care providers stress that incidents of neglect and abuse are extremely rare, and can come to regulators’ attention in a variety of ways.
A new Wisconsin law, which went into effect in February 2011, bars families from using state health investigation records in state civil suits filed against long-term providers, including nursing homes and hospices. It also makes such records inadmissible in criminal cases against health care providers accused of neglecting or abusing patients.
On Feb. 2, 2011, the Legislature voted to exempt a little patch of land, less than a mile down the road from the Green Bay Packers’ Lambeau Field, from the state’s wetlands rules, once called “the strongest wetland protections in the country.” The bill, passed on World Wetlands Day, will let up to three acres of the so-called Bergstrom wetland be filled with no additional permits or process.