A harsh glare
EDITOR: Thanks for your coverage of how the city is trying to deal with homeless people at the Sixth Street underpass. But I question its focus on squalor, smells, garbage and human waste, not to mention a photo of a scampering rat. I have to ask — to what end is this emphasis? We all know, or can imagine, the conditions of a homeless camp.
My fear is that this graphic, charged language further robs our homeless citizens of dignity while serving the ends of those who would treat them harshly and punitively, rather than those of us who know them as a population of fellow human beings in dire need.
EDITOR: Our neighbors, Jose Teniel and Maria Ramos, spent the past week trying to catch a flight to Puerto Rico. Jose’s mother was trapped in a hospital without running water or electricity. His uncle wasn’t able to get his dialysis and is in septic shock.
They sat at Miami International every day, only to see all of the flights to San Juan canceled. They hope to get there next week.
I’m dumbfounded by the inadequate response by our government. I served for 20 years in the Air Force, with 12 years with the 129th Air Rescue Group, so I know firsthand about our military’s ability to respond to humanitarian crises and have always taken pride in it. Stars and Stripes, our military newspaper, published an article comparing our response in Puerto Rico to the immediate aid given to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. The response to Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida was just as massive, utilizing all appropriate civilian and military agencies.
Apparently, under this administration, receiving disaster aid requires passing a political litmus test. Florida and Texas voted for Donald Trump. Puerto Rico, with 3.4 million American citizens isn’t allowed an Electoral College vote, disenfranchising all of its citizens.
God help us if a major earthquake strikes California during the Trump administration because it’s unlikely that the federal government will help.
Health care costs
EDITOR: Market forces have failed to keep health care costs affordable for most Americans. The lack of price transparency, gag orders written into insurance contracts, the fee-for-service payment system and the use of third parties to pay most bills keep costs climbing ever higher. Health care spending is something that impacts all of us. This is why we all need to keep this issue front and center until meaningful reform is achieved.
We have seen how public sector pensions have squeezed out spending on needed services, but so has health care spending, to a more insidious degree. Every dollar spent on health care is one less dollar spent on education, affordable housing, infrastructure, the environment and wage increases.
We can all play a part by being more prudent. Whenever you visit a health care provider and a test, procedure or prescription is ordered for you, ask a few simple questions: “Is this absolutely necessary?” If so, ask: “Is there a less expensive alternative that would not diminish the quality of my care?”
Just because someone else may be paying the bills on your behalf, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be paying the price in the end.
Crisis Care: The new mental institutions
Sonoma County has a chronic shortage of psychiatric hospital beds. As as a result, a growing number of mentally ill residents are ending up in local emergency rooms and in the jail system. A four-part series, run on four consecutive Sundays, examines the causes and ramifications of the current state of the county’s mental health system, and the people who are impacted the most.
Aug. 6 — Hospitals: The closure of two psychiatric hospitals in Sonoma County has left a gaping hole.
Aug. 27 — Your response: Readers share their stories about Sonoma County's mental health system.
Ongoing coverage: www.pressdemocrat.com/crisiscare
Share your story
We want to hear about your experience with local psychiatric emergency services. What do you do when you or a loved one faces a mental health crisis? Have you or a loved one sat in a hospital bed waiting to be transferred to an out-of-county psychiatric hospital or other mental health facility? Have you or a loved one received psychiatric services in the Sonoma County Jail’s mental health unit? Please send a brief account of your experience to Martin Espinoza at email@example.com.