Mental health care for all
A homeless and mentally ill man lies down in a busy intersection hoping to die (Herald-Leader, Dec. 21). We can thank former President Ronald Reagan for destroying much of our mental health treatment options including long-term care. Mental illness must have parity with other health issues when it comes to insurance and benefits. One aspect of this is the vicious cycle of people with limited means needing mental health services, yet who cannot afford the services (even at sliding-scale facilities) and cannot work due to their disability.
As a state and as a nation we need to help those with mental illnesses get the treatment they need and, as human beings, they deserve. We can give the ultra-wealthy a beefy tax cut, but we cannot provide mental health services to our citizens. This is ridiculous.
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Keep paramedicine unit
The Herald-Leader’s Dec. 21 coverage of Officer Alejandro Zaglul’s work for a mentally ill homeless man was inspirational (“Mentally ill and homeless, he rolls into traffic to die but goes to jail instead.”)
The Lexington Fire Department’s Community Paramedicine Unit with which Zaglul is affiliated was a tremendous blessing to our family over several months. Sadly, the grant supporting most of the unit’s workers was set to expire in late 2018. I hope the city will be able to provide more funding for the unit.
Thank you for publishing Martha Parks’ Dec. 28 opinion piece (“Trump guts refugee system in time of great need.”)
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua, I have experienced the power and goodness of people who welcome strangers to an unfamiliar country with a friendly and caring spirit.
While my circumstances were substantially different than those seeking refuge on our southern border, I and others who served in the Peace Corps are drawn to this issue because of the kind and transformative treatment we received in foreign countries.
The United Nations high commissioner for refugees reports that of the nearly 70 million internally displaced people, refugees and asylum seekers around the world, 85 percent are located in less-developed nations. While all nations need to respond to this crisis, our recent moves in the opposite direction lack compassion and leadership. How many of us know a refugee or former refugee well enough to understand life outside of our own experience? It’s possible that many of our perceptions are superficial or simply incorrect.
I wish for each of us to give of ourselves to better understand our communities, including those refugees and former refugees who are our neighbors, friends and co-workers.
Unworthy of print
Although not the focus of the Dec. 29 Herald-Leader article, “One UK doctor thinks cancer treatment has made him a better man,” as a metastatic prostate cancer patient with a grim future, I was desperate for information on the miracle drug, TAK-700.
It took less than a minute of research to discover that this drug had failed two phase III clinical trials, and the company suspended all work on the drug in 2014. I feel it was very irresponsible not to mention anything about that in the article.
The premise of the article implies that testosterone is bad and makes people (meaning all men, of course) jerks, which can be cured by eliminating it. Over my 40-year career, also as a research scientist, I have known a lot of people who did not have testosterone but were definitely jerks, and plenty of people with testosterone who were the nicest and kindest people you would ever want to work with.
This “cute” fluffy article about bad testosterone, based on anecdotes not science, is not worthy of being on the front page of a respectable newspaper.
Herald-Leader reporter Valarie Honeycutt Spears’ Dec. 28 article about Danielle Pruitt and her mother, classmates and teachers was inspirational (“‘My brain works perfectly’: Teen limited in mobility, speech, wins national award.”)
As we start the new year, this should be a reminder to all of us of the heart, strength and character of those who won’t give up.
Spears deserves an award for the article and I am so happy Pruitt and her family received hard-earned recognition. We need more inspirational news like this to help shape our attitudes and hopes.
Reporter Beth Musgrave’s Dec. 27 article about Lexington Mayor Jim Gray was also wonderful (He had the ability to dream big and give us hope.’ Jim Gray’s legacy after 8 years as mayor.”)
Gray has been a highly effective leader in Lexington in so many important ways.
We need more leaders like him. He is a man of integrity and was concerned about the people he served. I wish he had been elected senator in 2016. Kentucky has been incompetent in electing senators who are greedy and out of touch with the needs of those they are supposed to serve.
Focus on workplace safety
Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson’s op-ed on workplace safety was a welcome acknowledgment that Kentucky has work to do (“Kentucky workplaces getting safer, state focused on improvement,” Jan. 7). It followed deeply troubling reports of workplace fatalities and too-limited investigations in their wake (“Fatal flaws: How Kentucky fails its workers,” Nov. 12).
Dickerson cited data showing the rate of employer-reported injuries to workers in Kentucky is going down. But at 3.3 workers injured per 100 in 2017, it’s still higher than the national average of 2.8 workers hurt on the job. And Kentucky has a higher than average rate of work-related fatalities.
Workplace fatalities should never happen. Our goal should be to make Kentucky the safest place to work, from construction sites to mines.
We are heartened to read that the cabinet is working to improve the performance of our state-based Occupational Safety and Health Program. The action comes after a scathing review issued last year by the feds. Priorities for action: strategies to train and retain inspectors and capacity to take complaints by email.
State control of OSH functions is optional. The best way to assure it: Do an outstanding job. We look forward to ongoing reports on progress.
Richard J. Seckel
Director, Kentucky Equal Justice Center
Add warning to CBD label
I have read about Sen. Mitch McConnell’s efforts to legalize hemp nationally along with his work to make Kentucky one of the states that participated in the hemp pilot program. My problem is a little-discussed adverse byproduct of hemp products.
I recently purchased cannabidiol (CBD) oil from an area farm that is part of the pilot program. I am regularly drug-tested because of personal issues, so I asked the staff person if taking the farm’s CBD oil would appear on a drug test. I was assured it would not.
I began using the product and received some comfort from pain. A week later, I had to have a physical and drug screening for a license. My drug-screen results came back positive for marijuana. State testing showed there was more than the permitted amount of THC (the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) in my CBD oil.
There was no warning for those who may be required to participate in drug screening, such as truck drivers, factory workers, those who use pain clinics and others. So many products we use are required to list possible side effects and contraindications on the container. Why isn't the same done with CBD oil?
Robert B. Dalton
Medicaid fees indecent
Gov. Matt Bevin's move to insist upon co-pays for everyone on Medicaid with the minimal exception of pregnant women and children is despicable. Some people can afford a $3 co-pay but many cannot, which is why they rely on Medicaid for their health care.
This lack of compassion and common decency is sadly on track for Bevin's administration, but one would hope that he would reconsider in light of the letters he has received from doctors who work with vulnerable populations among his constituents. The governor may have forgotten the purpose of health insurance, but it serves to save lives. His decision in this case shows a lack of concern for the lives of the poorest in our state. I hope he will reconsider and attempt to place himself in their shoes from his comfortable mansion.