Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Friday's letters: Mentally ill in crisis need support

Is this Senate bill a fix, or is the fix in | April 6, John Romano column

Mentally ill in crisis need support

While I decry the dishonest way in which SPB 7122 passed committee, I have unfortunately come to expect such underhanded behavior from politicians. I am absolutely aghast, however, at the proposed decrease in funding for the state's crisis stabilization units, or CSUs.

Although I choose not to practice in Florida because of its legislated restrictions on my ability to provide the best possible care to my patients, I am a highly respected, board-certified psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. The setting in which I most often work is the emergency department. I can say from firsthand knowledge that CSUs are essential not only in the care of the mentally ill in crisis, but to every person who might have to use an emergency department.

If a mentally ill person is a "threat to self or others" and there is no CSU or in-patient bed available, that person remains in the emergency department — maybe in the bed next to you or your child. Because mentally ill patients are sometimes in the emergency department for days, this leads to overcrowding and long emergency department waits since mentally ill patients are taking up beds.

Given this situation, which undoubtedly will be made worse by SPB 7122, will the next headline-making tragic event be here in Florida? After horrific events such as Newtown and Fort Hood, legislators give lip service to "fixing" the mental health system — and then proceed to pull the funding rug out from under both patients and providers. For shame.

Anne Manton, Palmetto

Is this Senate bill a fix, or is the fix in April 6, John Romano column

Fund lifesaving services

Having worked on the front lines of the Florida mental health system for more than nine years, it still amazes me just how ignorant and nearsighted some of our politicians continue to be in light of numerous horrific incidents that continue to plague our country.

Here in Florida, with our population nearly the third-largest in the nation, legislators still insist on reducing public funding for mental health and substance abuse intervention services. We are already ranked a dismal 49th out of 50 states. Are we waiting for Florida to become the subject of nationally spotlighted events before we finally properly fund these lifesaving services?

Now we have state senators who want to dismantle the public crisis support/intervention units for people who have been deemed most likely to harm themselves or others. Legislators suggest that those who have no insurance and are in most cases indigent will be served by the private, for-profit hospitals that either already have or plan to build locked crisis units. One interesting aspect of this is that the bed reimbursement rate is dramatically higher for people with insurance (including Medicaid, Medicare and private insurances), while the state reimbursement rate is much lower.

As the column noted, after the public crisis center in the Panhandle closed, for-profit HCA took over the services and is now asking for a $1 million increase in funding. It makes me wonder if the for-profits who are backing this bill are also planning to ask for funding increases once they've converted some of their insured funded beds to public, state-funded beds.

Joan M. Andrade, Pinellas Park

Trauma fee response light | April 7

Callous indifference

It comes as no surprise that the majority of state legislators have ignored the recent Times articles on Florida's trauma center rip-off. If anything can highlight the lack of action and public concern prevalent in Tallahassee, it is the callous indifference of our representatives to the very real financial threat these centers pose for many of our residents.

The main perpetrator of this disaster is the for-profit Hospital Corporation of America, which maintains dozens of lobbyists in the Capitol and which spent $1.3 million last year to buy the right to make millions of dollars in trauma care from our citizens. It is no wonder that this travesty is allowed to happen as our governor is the former head of HCA and an unindicted participant in a fraud case that resulted in a major federal fine for the company.

It seems he and his followers have brought his corporate philosophy and moral standards to Florida by offering us the questionable right to "die or go broke."

Jim Haynes, Tampa

Designed as entry-level pay | April 8, letter

Times have changed

The letter writer seems to think that we are still living in the 1950s, when higher education nearly automatically meant a well-paying job. But in the 21st century, there are college graduates and people with postgraduate degrees who are unable to find those jobs because those jobs just don't exist. There is a dearth of well-paying jobs, which is at the heart of the push to raise the minimum wage.

Has the writer not heard about the many middle-aged people who have been laid off after working for years, and who have struggled to find any way to support their already existing families? Has she not seen the influx of older people into jobs like clerks and baggers and greeters and hamburger flippers?

The world is changing. Those assured jobs of yesterday are most likely never coming back. We need to make sure that hardworking people at every level are able to sustain themselves.

Laura Vickers, Tampa

Recall his name for weakening helmet law April 8

Helmets save lives, money

As a rider myself, I'm tired of hearing the old saw, "Let those who ride decide" when it comes to mandatory helmet laws. We all heard the same argument used when seat belt laws were enacted, but the fact is that thousands of lives have been saved because of them. Ask any paramedic and he will tell you that many motorcycle fatalities could have been prevented by the simple use of a helmet.

In my own case, I survived two serious crashes (neither of which was my fault) because I wore one. I wouldn't even think of riding without it. Drivers in our area are so bad that it probably be a good idea to wear one to drive the car as well.

But the real problem with the lack of a helmet law is the cost to taxpayers. Most of the riders I know carry no insurance. The law says that you must carry a $10,000 insurance policy to ride without a helmet, but who's checking? We, the taxpayers, are paying the ridiculous trauma fees for those with a death wish.

Bob Dalzell, St. Petersburg


Tuesday’s letters: If you don’t like the Electoral College, then amend the Constitution

The popular vote | May 20, letterIf you don’t like it, amend ConstitutionA recent letter supports the idea that a state should be able to change its Electoral College vote to match that of the national popular vote winner as opposed to the result...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 25

Re: Proposed TECO Solar Plant As a 21-year resident and property owner, I am writing in opposition to the proposed Tampa Electric Company solar plant tin rural northeast Pasco County.The solar plant will be .2 miles from my home. It will run 1.4 mile...
Published: 05/21/18

Monday’s letters: Focusing on the mental state of shooters misses the point

Texas high school shooting | May 18Criminals, angry people kill peopleSchool shootings are a distinctly American phenomenon. But shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1 percent of all yearly gun-related homicides in ...
Published: 05/19/18
Updated: 05/21/18

Friday’s letters: Putnam and Publix, two P’s lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17A pleasure to shop elsewhereMy family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye.Firs...
Published: 05/18/18

Saturday’s letters: For Florida to move forward, focus on a healthy and sustainable environment

Tampa’s future is bright | May 12Protect Florida, boost economyThis past year, Florida set another record-breaking year for tourism, welcoming more than 116 million visitors. While Florida boasts a unique quality of life and more than 1,300 miles...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Sunday’s letters: What conservatives stand for

How can conservatism survive after Trump | May 13, Nickens columnhed#6324 I think it obvious that traditional conservatism was squeezed out of the 2016 campaign narrative and has become a niche thesis owned by a small group of intellectuals. A gr...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Friday's letters: Putnam and Publix, two P's lose my nod

Publix pours cash to Putnam | May 17 A pleasure to shop elsewhere My family and I moved to Tampa in 1974, and have made Publix our favorite grocery store ever since. Forty-four years! That is why it makes me a little sad to have to say goodbye. F...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18

Pasco Letters to the Editor for May 18

Re: Pasco panel okays Tampa Electric solar farm after five-hour meeting | April 9 storySolar farm offers many positivesThere has been much publicity regarding the proposed TECO Mountain View solar project slated for 350 acres in East Pasco that was r...
Published: 05/14/18

Thursday’s letters: Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America

Autonomous vehicles in FloridaThe state for self-driving carsAlmost overnight, Florida has arguably become the autonomous vehicle capital of North America. In the last three months, Voyage, a self-driving taxi service, has begun service in the Villag...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/17/18

Wednesday’s letters: Florida’s Community Health Centers save $1.78 for every dollar spent

Florida’s Community Health CentersHealth centers are a great dealIf you gave someone a dollar and they gave you back $1.78, wouldn’t you consider that a fantastic deal? That’s the deal Florida’s Community Health Centers provide for the state’s citize...
Published: 05/12/18
Updated: 05/16/18