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<b>Preventive medicine</b>

EDITOR: I was gratified to read Staff Writer Martin Espinosa's article about the Petaluma Health Center and it's good marks from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration ("Clinic earns high marks," Tuesday).

Other clinics in the county did well, too. One sentence, however, struck me: "Petaluma Health Center, which has undergone a major expansion of both facilities and medical programs, ranked among the highest in the state in a number of categories related to preventative medicine, which some in health care view as a key toward reducing rising health care costs."

My question: Who are the some who don't believe in preventing illness. Might it be for-profit hospitals, fee-for-service physicians, big pharma, medical device makers, etc.? All those sectors get rich off treating illness rather than preventing illness.

To control costs and generate better outcomes, we need more clinics like the Petaluma Health Center and more primary-care physicians and nurse practitioners.

RON HAYES

Santa Rosa

<b>Autism support</b>

EDITOR: Thank you for Amy Mackin's piece highlighting the stress and grief of those struggling with "extreme autism" ("The autism stories no one hears," Tuesday). As a working parent of a 20-year-old at that end of the autism spectrum, I know the anguish and exhaustion Mackin describes.

As director of the Collaborative Autism Training & Support Program (a partnership between Sonoma State University, the California Parenting Institute and 30 other schools and agencies), I have met hundreds of the most remarkable people in our community: children facing all levels of autism and their struggling, supportive families.

Our children are among the one in 50 now diagnosed on the autism spectrum, according to a recent Centers for Disease Control study.

We share stories of "intense" behaviors, frustration at lack of services, fear for our children's future, sleepless nights, family disruption and painful judgments from unaware others. We are a secret society with insider values, increased compassion for humanity, our own dark humor, strength and a desire not to be so secret, but to be seen, heard, respected, supported.

If you know families touched by autism who need trained interns to work with their children, support groups and other resources, contact Claudia Canul at claudiac@calparents.org or 585-6108 ext. 1106.

LORNA CATFORD

Rohnert Park

<b>Solar economics</b>

EDITOR: My research on green solar panels on top of residential homes showed me that you need to build a system for about $7,500 to make up for the costs of hooking up to the grid for the venture to make any sense financially.

Now, this if fine if you consume $2,500 per year of electricity to cover the cost of the system. If you only consume $700 per year, the system will take more than 10 years to pay for itself even though the system is producing three times the amount of electricity you consume.

The unfortunate fact is that if you make more electricity than you consume, PG&E doesn't pay you for it. PG&E will only "replace" electricity you use during times when you are not generating your own power. If this changes so that PG&E must pay the average rate for the surplus electricity generated by residential systems, many more people would install these units.

Switching to Sonoma Clean Power doesn't address this real issue and would just add another layer of overhead to the system. PG&E can afford to pay for the surplus electricity and burn less natural gas.

KARL FISHER

Petaluma

<b>GMO alert</b>

EDITOR: Saving the Bodega Red potato should alarm GMO antis ("Sonoma County potato reborn," Wednesday). The potato's genetics were studied and then improved by culturing in a Petri dish where the bad parts (virus infected) were removed. Hardly Luther Burbank methodology, but laboratory manipulation of the original Bodega Red. I look forward to eating some of the new, improved potatoes soon.

PAUL GEIGER

Sebastopol