Letters to the Editor

Do no harm

February 1, 2007


To the editor:

We've read about a bereaved mother's lawsuit with Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Bert Nash and others to deliver a wakeup call about the need for in-patient mental health services in Lawrence. LMH stated that past data indicate the census was too low to justify reopening a unit.

We've read about mentally ill inmates languishing in our jail for lack of beds in the state hospital. Circumstances for a suicidal inmate, in the interest of safety, are disquieting - not from malice, but because it isn't a hospital and corrections officers aren't clinically trained mental health professionals.

We've read about conditions of "filth, frigid showers" and other horrible conditions at Larned State Hospital.

The great experiment by Ronald Reagan to close most of the nation's mental health hospitals has proven to be one of the great fiascoes of our time. Community mental health has a clear role, but in-patient hospitals also are a necessary part of mental health services for those whose needs surpass what a community can provide.

Seems that doing the right thing has been subjugated by the bottom line. One wonders if the ethic "First, do no harm" has a place at the table of CEOs and CFOs who debate the financial viability of helping people at what is likely the most terrifying and vulnerable times of their lives. LMH needs to do better than what they now offer. There is a lost daughter as evidence, and one lost daughter is enough proof of need.

Catherine Bolton,



formerfarmer 11 years, 4 months ago

Seems to me that any attempt to reopen the psych ward at LMH requires one thing, a qualified psychiatrist to run the program, which LMH says they are unable to find. I believe that opening the unit with unqualified personnel will only lead to more problems.

jmadison 11 years, 4 months ago

Actually, the movement to cut mental health provision started in the 1960's with the Democrats in Congress. Over half the people who are homeless are mentally ill with no current hope for adequate supervision of actually taking medications needed to help their conditions.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 4 months ago

Ronald "Iran Contra" Reagan may not have been a good president but he managed to win over our investigative press and the public with his humor. Reaganomics did not work then and it is not working now. GW has taken "voodoo" ecomomics to new heights as well. Under this Bush we get the real costs of the war, they could hardly be clearer. Targeted for cutbacks in federal money are virtually all social programs--Medicare and Medicaid, food stamps, housing, job training and child care, education and student loans, environmental protection, public transportation, science research, even veterans' benefits and school funding for children of military personnel.

Between the cuts in social programs,medicare and medicaid our citizens in need mentioned in the above letter are still left out in the cold.

imastinker 11 years, 4 months ago

.....And how does Bush and the war get drug into this? Some of you really fight dirty.

Slav 11 years, 4 months ago

Did anyone ever define "too low", as in the "census is too low to justify reopeing"? How could any number over zero be too low?

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

Tax increase for a study needed maybe+

bearded_gnome 11 years, 4 months ago

formerfarmer et al, if LMH and Bert Nash had enough devoted resources, finding the mental health professionals wouldn't be a problem. seriously, that statement about not being able to find a psychiatrist to work the unit should have the following clause appended: "at the proposed level of investment." if this town took all the useless % for art spending, and instead made it % for mental health, we'd have a very large pool to start with.

the movement to close state mental hospitals was also driven by a lot of "do-gooders" who disliked seeing people housed that way. much was done in that in the '70s too. so, please take Ronald Reagan out of this and also ignore all of what the "Merrill" posts so uselessly.

people have died because of the failure of services at LMH/Bert Nash; people who shouldn't have died. now, let's stay focused and avoid the maundering.

gbulldog 11 years, 4 months ago

How dare we do anything rational with the metally ill. We would be violating their rights.

A family member is mentally ill. Sometimes the drugs, if she takes them, work sometimes they do not. Because of HIPPA rules I am not allowed to told anything to protect her privacy.

Due to her severe health problems caused in part by her mental condition, I expect to hear any day that she has died or will spend the rest of her life as a vegetable in a nursing facillity.

We turn the metally ill lose, they do bad things, and then we put them in jail. Is this a better way to treat them. As a result, lawyers got rich. Thank you ACLU.

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