Taking Stock of the Flu Vaccine

Jurisdictions Survey Hospitals, Nursing Homes

Jurisdictions across the Washington region are surveying the flu shot inventories of their hospitals and nursing homes and, in some cases, the holdings of individual physicians, local public health officials said as they met to discuss how the region is addressing the nation's vaccine shortage.

In Maryland, 18 hospitals report having no vaccine. Meeting for the first time since the federal government announced the possible contamination of 48 million doses of vaccine, the health officers acknowledged their limitations in getting shots to those considered especially vulnerable to influenza.

Flood Insurance Investigation Sought

Senators Cite Allegations of Mismanagement

Maryland's U.S. senators have asked two federal agencies to look into problems with the federal flood insurance program, which has left scores of homeowners without the money they say is needed to rebuild after Hurricane Isabel last year.

Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Paul S. Sarbanes, both Democrats, wrote to Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, saying they were "deeply concerned" that the National Flood Insurance Program decided to stop an independent review of disputed flood claims. They also asked Attorney General John D. Ashcroft to investigate "very serious allegations" that mismanagement of flood insurance claims amounts to fraud and has shortchanged policyholders by hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases.

Prizewinning Pooch Found

Pomeranian's Owners Enmeshed in Dispute

A four-day police search for Lord Wilton, a prizewinning Pomeranian who disappeared from a show in Western Maryland, came to an end when authorities learned that an apparent dognapping was instead tied to a dispute between two of the animals' owners.

Lord Wilton vanished from the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland after winning the best-in-breed prize at a dog show. Searching for what they thought was a dognapper, authorities learned that Lord Wilton was in the possession of one of his owners, Hideko Strasbaugh, who lives in California. Police said that Strasbaugh and co-owner Bonnie Stetson have been feuding and that Strasbaugh or someone cooperating with her managed to spirit Lord Wilton away from the show.

Slots Still Top Md. Agenda

State Losing Half a Billion Each Year, Miller Says

Slot machine gambling could once again dominate the General Assembly's agenda when lawmakers return to Annapolis in January, legislative leaders said.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) told an audience of business executives that he will revive his push to allow slot machines, estimating that Maryland loses half a billion dollars each year in money being gambled out of state. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has made the legalization of slots his keystone initiative.

Army Faults Probe of Hospital Death

Father of Patient Laments Lack of Accountability

The Army inspector general's office has faulted three medical officers and the former commander of Walter Reed Army Medical Center for their pivotal roles in the botched probe of a Fairfax County teenager's 1998 death after what was to have been routine surgery there.

The report portrayed a hospital ill-prepared to investigate the quality of its medical care and demand accountability in complex events. The 16-year-old's father, William Tyra, and six relatives from Connecticut, New York and Texas were flown to Washington for a two-hour briefing at the Pentagon. The retired Marine colonel said he quickly realized, with dismay, that the report was silent on how those involved should be held accountable for the troubled investigation into the death of his daughter, Katie.

Across the Region

Killings in Pr. George's; Wallaby Captured

* Prince George's County police have recorded an average of 12 slayings a month this year, putting the suburb on pace for an annual homicide total not seen since the mid-1990s.

* A wallaby, which had been one of Anne Arundel County's most wanted fugitives for days, was captured in Severn.

Vaccine lottery: Operators in Montgomery County take applications to give away 800 vials of flu vaccine. The nationwide shortage prompted thousands to respond.