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So many with mental health issues not receiving care they need

To the editor,
I have lived in New Hampshire all my life. My father was severely mentally ill back in the 1930s to the early 1990s. In the 1950s, conditions at the New Hampshire State Hospital were deplorable. Conditions in the wards were unsafe and patients had no rights. Families and individuals were in turmoil. Sometimes police and court intervention was necessary. In the 1980s and 90s the stigma of mental illness was beginning to fade and services were improving.
Now it is 2013, and you would think with all advances in understanding of mental health issues and the impact that it has on individuals, families, and society, that funding for treatment and services would be available on par with physical illnesses. But, sadly, this has not been the case. In the last 12 years New Hampshire has fallen from an A rating to almost an F rating in the services it recently has been providing for mental health. What has happened is that many of our representatives in Concord, who live on our communities, had seen fit to cut the budget of Heath and Human Services and reduce reimbursement rates to community mental health centers such as Genesis Behavioral Health. The Philbrook Children's Mental Health facility in Concord has been closed. The number of beds available for adults patients at New Hampshire Hospital was reduced to make room for the children in need — creating a serious shortage overall. It seemed like we are falling back to the dark days of the 1950s, where the essential needs of the mentally ill are ignored or discarded. Families and the community suffer the consequences of people who are unable to successfully and safely function in society. Police are now taking more and more calls for situations that involve people acting out and potentially posing life threatening situations. Just listen and see the recent news headlines with increased crime, crisis situations involving police and helpless family members.
I have been on the front, so to speak, involved with and advocating for, two young adults that I have known for several years. I will call them David and Jame. They continue to suffer for mental illnesses with diagnosis of bipolar and other mood disorders. They are, at time, very depressed and at other times very angry and agitated.
One night, last year, David who had just returned back to N.H. was very despondent. His girlfriend had just left him. His family had turned their backs on him. He felt that he had lost all his friends. He was suicidal, and it was not the first time. I was concerned for his safety, and so I took David to the ER and LRGH. On the intake sheet he wrote, "I want to kill myself." It was late, so I went home expecting he would receive the help he needed. Instead, he waited over four hours for a doctor to see him. When he was finally evaluated by the emergency mental health doctor David was told that there was nothing that could be done. Today's psychiatric threshold is so high, basically you have to actively be trying to kill yourself or harm someone else in order to receive services or a psychiatric evaluation.
He left the ER and walked for two hours back to my home. Because he had no insurance he was told he could call Genesis Behavioral Health, but there would be a lengthy waiting period before he could have an appointment for an evaluation and follow up care.
A year later, David is next to homeless, has no insurance and owes LRGH over $2,000. He still suffers from depression and the inability to work. The State of New Hampshire cut off his food stamps because he is classified as able-bodied, so his assistance was temporary. Without personal, family or other support David is even more despondent and feeling trapped in a spiral of depression.
Last Spring, James called me saying he was coming to "get me" and said he was done with life. I was so concerned I called the police. They found him incoherent on the side of the road. They took James to the ER and LRGH, his second police escort visit. Again, he waited for a long time, and again the emergency mental health doctor was unable to do anything as James didn't pose an immediate threat to himself. If there was such a threat, then there was likely a three day waiting period for a bed a New Hampshire Hospital. The doctor's hands were tied. So, at 3 a.m. this young man was released. He walked the streets of Laconia until early morning, still distraught and feeling abandoned. 
Now, one year later, James has been living in a group home for six months. A place where it would seem that he would be receiving the help he needs. But sadly he still has not received adequate help, again because of the lack of funding and the personal dynamics of those with mental illness that create hardships for the trained and dedicated staff members to do their job. There is no full-time or emergency staffing at the home. He still suffers with suicidal thoughts and severe negativity. He is unable to sleep or eat properly and he self medicates. In March he was taken to LRGH ER by the Laconia Police. He was held under 24/7 police observance for two and a half days. The was sent to Concord. He was there only 10 days and released unready and still unstable. This made it difficult for his coordinated, follow-up care at Genesis to be effective. 
As a personal and caring friend, I have been on the front line defense for his life and do my best to help and to speak up and be heard. Also I experience first hand pain and anger that is directed my way, and personal risk, as this unfortunate young many is still crying for help. I have had many sleepless nights and have had to call friends or the police whenever I have felt threatened myself.
These two individuals are just two examples of many others who also have and continue to live their lives in self fear and mental trauma, because they are not receiving the care they need. Due to financial restraints, red tape, and lack of funding for agencies such as Genesis and Health First.
Still, over and over again the stigma and fear of those with mental illness has created a human injustice and community stress. Our local police departments and emergency room staff are concerned and often overwhelmed on how to work in a broken system. And still those with mental illness suffer, while family and concerned citizens also feel the pain and injustice of lack of funding and coordinated efforts to address a human and moral dilemma.
Mental health is like the "ugly stepsister". Consider this, young people with Downs Syndrome are supported with great community caring and support. Special Olympics as a wonderful example of the encouragement and support they receive. They are supported and accepted in our lives to reach their full potential in life. Some people who suffer with developmental disabilities receive state funded support costing many thousands a year. They are provided specialized housing. Daily activities and many support services so they can live in safety and with the support they need. Because they are our family members and children.
Currently our new governor, Maggie Hassen, has committed to some positive proposals to better meet the needs of those with mental illness, with additional funding and programs in her budget. But already the State Senate wants to cut some of these programs and spending proposals, which actually have been parts of a 10 year bipartisan proposal that is five years behind in its implementation. Those positive changes when they come will take months to be implemented. This effort to resort the state's commitment should be strongly encouraged and supported.
But right now, I believe the call to action is urgent. Our community has suffered another tragic death. We as a community must stop making excuses, passing the buck and saying "not here . . . not in my back yard" or "it's the governments fault" and so on. It is time for our community leaders, from Washington, Concord and local council members and select members, church clergy, business leaders, health professionals and staff, and caring individuals to take action and support one another to adequately serve the needs of our most vulnerable citizens and in supporting and improving the services and accountability provided by Genesis, Health First, Carey House, Cornerbridge and other community agencies that can make a difference in the lives of those who suffer with mental illness.
John P. Rogers

Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 10:14

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BIBA launching new Buy Local Advantage Card in next few months

To The Daily Sun,
BIBA's (Belknap Independent Business Alliance) Annual Meeting was held at the Beane Conference Center on May 29, with Joe Grafton from AMIBA (American Independent Business Alliance) as our guest speaker. We are excited to be launching our BIBA Buy Local Advantage Card in the next few months and wish to express our gratitude to Bank of New Hampshire for their design and direction for the card and also to Piche's Ski & Sport Shop Print Shop for the production of the card. Be sure to be on the lookout for the launch and how to get your card!
The event would have not been possible without the underwriting support of American Express Open, AMIBA and those who came to hear about BIBA and the local movement. A special thanks to Kevin Halligan for providing us with some tasty treats from Local Eatery, Craig Beane for the meeting space and logistics and Chris and Janelle McCarthy for working the registration table and bar. We would like thank of all those who attended, including: Bank of New Hampshire, Baron's Major Brands, Belknap EDC, Big Cat Coffee, Bizz Buzz Marketing Partners, Charlie Smith,, Franklin Savings Bank, Fusion, Granite United Way, Hawkins Photography & Framing, Homeward Bound Animal Care, Irwin Automotive Group, Laconia School District, Lakes Region Chamber of Commerce, Lakes Region Nutrition, LRL Holdings, Mainstay Technologies, Mayor Michael Seymour, Melcher & Prescott, Meredith Village Savings Bank, Nearby Registry, Patrick Wood Law, Salmon Press, Skate Escape, The Laconia Daily Sun, The Studio, And various other individuals from the community!
We have an exciting year ahead and we look forward to sharing it with you and our Lakes Region community!
Executive Director: Kate Bishop Hamel
BIBA Board of Directors:
Randy Bullerwell, All My Life Jewelers
David Buffington, AMG Financial
Chris McCarthy, The Insurance Outlet

Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 10:09

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Here are 8 general attributes the mayor of Laconia should have

To The Daily Sun,
With the announcement of Mayor Seymour's intent not to run for re-election, the city was faced with finding a candidate of the highest caliber to fill his giant-sized shoes. In thinking of possibilities and needing some insight as to the kind of person who should be our next mayor, I sought the advice of someone I have always respected and someone with great knowledge of the city and the people in it. I asked for names of those with the attributes necessary to do the job that is expected of a mayor.
While no names immediately jumped out, he did forward a list of the general attributes a mayor should have:
1. Must have a reasonably high degree of general intelligence.
2. Must have a reasonably high IQ when it comes to how government work and the issues that it deals with.
3. Must have basic familiarity with Laconia City government.
4. Must have basic familiarity with how City Council operates as an institution.
5. Must have ability to competently chair a meeting.(very important)
6. Able to represent the City in Concord, ceremonies, etc. in an articulate way, and be reasonably personable.
7. Must be reasonably thick-skinned, doesn't run for cover when his/her actions are criticized.
8. Must have ability to commit to the time necessary to do the job.
Further, the city does not want people serving who just happen to be the only ones to sign up.
Mayor Seymour certainly met all those requirements as he spent a year before the election attending every council meeting and committee meetings to be familiar with the operations of city government and the current budgetary problems and other issues in the city.
Ed Engler comes to the top of this list in all facets. Who knows more about what is going on in Laconia and in the state than the editor of The Daily Sun. He also takes a very personal interest in his city and is usually at most civic doings, not as a newspaper person, but as a private citizen and taxpayer of Laconia. He is the person most people request to moderate meetings and forums because of his fairness, knowledge and ability to control the meeting.
While we don't always agree on issues and frankly, I don't even know if we agree on any of them, that doesn't color his coverage. I get a most generous spot in his paper for my views even when they differ from his, as do many other writers.
I know that he will always be fair and will respect my right to be different. I would welcome him to the council if I am re-elected.
Councilor Brenda Baer
Ward 4

Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 10:02

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Incessant talk of threats to our safety does not have legitimacy

To The Daily Sun,
I believe this country is being strangled and suffocated, it's economy robbed and it's citizens duped by the so-called "war on terror"! Our reputed enemies consist of foot soldiers, insurgents, and other entities that have always existed in various countries around the world. They have no armies or air power: they have no weaponry to export — potentially causing serious harm to American citizens. Since 9/11 there has not been one casualty in this country attributed to foreign terrorists (the marathon bombers were American citizens.) If the military remains in several middle-eastern countries for the next hundred years, there would always be an enemy to kill.
The "war on terror" is, in effect, an industry. In order to exist it must perpetuate it's own reasons to see the United States in peril, even if in fact, there is no credible danger whatsoever. We have a Defense Department, suggesting we are "on-the-run"! The truth is we are the strongest military force the world has ever known. Can you imagine the mouse chasing the elephant? In addition, we spend hundreds of billions on surveillance. There is nothing going on in the world that we don't know about.
Again, it is demonstrated that the incessant talk of threats to our safety do not have any legitimacy, even if it's backed by continue harassment through the news media and elsewhere. Our dedicated and honorable soldiers have no responsibility in policy decisions by the military.
We have serious problems here at home. Our commitment to protect other countries from domestic harm needs to end. We have had more violence and death here on our city streets than we can handle, let alone someone else's problems. Turn your eyes inward and work to make this country, once again, respected and admired around the world! (Not a nation to be feared!)
Leon R. Albushies

Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 09:56

Hits: 297

Supposition that no insurance will improve medical results is scary

To the editor,
I haven't written a letter to the editor in awhile but I had to respond to a letter I read Saturday from Don Ewing entitled "Medicaid hikes health care usage and costs without better results". I won't argue with his mathematics or his contention that nothing in life is free, especially when it comes from the federal government. Where I have a disagreement is the statement that "Medicaid increases costs and health care usage, but patient health care results overall are no better than mixed compared to no insurance." He bases this comment on two study's, one in Oregon and the other in Virginia. I am familiar with the Oregon study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The methodology and conclusions do not produce the slam dunk as described by Mr. Ewing. The study was not a true measure of overall health status and the changes that can occur over a long period of time. It included only a few measures, all "self reported" by participants such as blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels after only two years. In addition, according to economist Austin Frakt, the sample sizes were as much as 23 times too small. The biggest flaw was that the study didn't have enough people in bad health to measure any thing that is clinically significant.
No question that the cost of health care is too high no matter how it is accessed. Subsidized care is flawed and expensive, again no argument there. Making long term policy, though, without completely thinking through or completely understanding the problem can be catastrophic. If you do not have any health care insurance, you will in all likelihood not receive basic preventive care and will probably head to your nearest emergency room (the most expensive place to receive primary care) when you are ill. Diseases won't be detected early enough to prevent more serious and costly treatment or dire outcomes. At that point, the Medicaid debate is moot. If they can't pay, well guess what? The hospital eats the cost and we all end up paying for it. The end result is a continuing upward cost spiral that is clearly unsustainable.
So yes Mr, Ewing, subsidized care is expensive, but the alternative, which is to do nothing and live under the false assumption that no insurance will "improve medical results" is downright scary and I would argue much more expensive in the long run.
Paul Punturieri

Last Updated on Monday, 17 June 2013 09:51

Hits: 447

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