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Letters to the Editor

Health plea

February 7, 2012

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To the editor:

As a mental health client and advocate, I would like to focus attention on the decimation of services for the mentally ill that has occurred over the past few years. I know this community has a great capacity to stand up against injustice as exemplified by its demands for rape victim services at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and its fight to save our local SRS office. Now, I plead for your help as you consider a few of the things facing the mentally ill in our community:

  1. Significant reductions in state hospital beds that lead to waiting lists.

  2. No mental health unit at LMH. Although successfully provided in the past, it was closed because it “lost money.” Help me to understand what a “community hospital” means.

  3. Community mental health centers, like our Bert Nash Center, have seen their state funding slashed 90 percent!

  4. Many of our mentally ill have limited resources and thus rely on Medicaid to help meet their mental health care needs. A recently announced modification to state Medicaid recipients eliminates mental health services.

  5. The judicial system has become the “entry point” for “services” for far too many of our mentally ill citizens. Once in this system, they languish and deteriorate in our jails and prisons. Homelessness is another dismal alternative.

I weep for the suffering I am seeing among our community’s mentally ill. Will you, my fellow citizens, rise up once more against a great moral injustice and help end this outrage against some of our most vulnerable citizens? Please!

Comments

Sally Piller 2 years, 6 months ago

Excellent letter about a very important issue.

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progressive_thinker 2 years, 6 months ago

I agree with spiller, this is an excellent letter. For those that think cutting funding in this area is cost effective, pay special attention to point # 5. Jails and prisons have become the de facto holding and treatment facilities for the mentally ill. When a mentally ill person becomes incarcerated, the government has no option other than providing treatment. In prison is a very expensive way to provide mental health care.

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Kendall Simmons 2 years, 6 months ago

I was at a meeting last year about establishing CIT (crisis intervention training) here in Lawrence...and Ken McGovern, the Douglas County Sheriff, estimated that 60% of the inmates at the Douglas County Jail had some kind of mental health problem. SIXTY PER CENT!!!

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ignatius_j_reilly 2 years, 6 months ago

As a small-government conservative, here is where I draw the line. You can only cut so much from programs before you end up hurting us all.

Unless we're going to kill the mentally ill, we'd better take care of them. And foisting them upon hospitals, upon prisons isn't going to help them, and it will only cause disruption and loss of resources at the hospitals and prisons.

People -- particularly conservatives -- frame it as a "We can't do X because it will cost Y" issue. But how much M O R E will it cost all taxpayers if we don't take care of the mentally ill, then have to pay for their hospitalization, for their extreme lack of care?

Even from a perspective of 100% selfishness, the answer ought to be "We can't afford to not do X, because it will save Z, which is far greater than the cost of Y alone."

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verity 2 years, 6 months ago

Penny wise and pound foolish?

Perhaps we can do a check off on our tax returns for that also. Just run all government by donation. That should work in the Land of OZ.

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 6 months ago

Recall Sam Brownback would be smart economics....

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Jean Robart 2 years, 6 months ago

Too bad stoopid isn't reason enough to recall.

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progressive_thinker 2 years, 6 months ago

So I take it that you are advocating a system where all taxes are voluntary? One where we only pay what we want to?

In that case, what infrastructure [roads, public safety, national security, and an educated workforce] would there be on which businesses could operate?

None.

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BigDog 2 years, 6 months ago

He didn't mention that most of the cuts that have happened to mental health took place under the Sebelius/Parkinson administrations. I know some here like to blame everything on Brownback.... and he deserves blame on some issues but most of the issues in this letter are not because of changes he has made.

Also the 90 percent cut in state funding that is mentioned here that too place over the last 3-4 years .... fails to mention the significant increase in federal funding received.

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verity 2 years, 6 months ago

Merrill, you keep talking about recalling the governor. If you want it to happen, then start the petition. But if you've done your research, you will know that this is almost impossible and if a recall was successful, either Brownback or the Lt Governor would appoint his successor from the Republican Party. (As far as I as been able to ascertain, the law isn't clear on that, since the governor appoints the replacement of anybody who is recalled.)

I asked for suggestions as to what we actually can do at one point on these boards and didn't get much in reply. We need to get real and come up with ways to stop this damage before it gets any worse, rather than just bitch, moan and whine.

Swamp the governor's office with emails, letters and calls. Contact your state congress people. Make yourself heard. Brownback controls us because we let him. We are more than he is. We are governed by our consent.

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pace 2 years, 6 months ago

We may not be able to get rid of Brownback but we can see that jailing our mentally ill is not family friendly. I would say our best bet is to write and call our house and senate representatives. It also would serve to Occupy. don't leave it to the young, stand up for your self, you family and your neighbors. Infrastructure built by generations of investment is being destroyed and even sold off.

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