Friday November 23, 2012

Retreat cutbacks hurting patients

Editor of the Reformer:

I am a nurse at the Brattleboro Retreat working on the State Hospital Unit. The patients that come to the State Hospital Unit, officially known as the Adult Intensive Unit, often come with a history of much of their lives in institutional settings due to severe, ongoing mental illness and with horrific trauma histories that continue to affect their mental well-being and their capacity to feel safe and at ease. The other Adult Inpatient units at the Retreat are also receiving some of these patients due to a lack of beds in the rest of the state. The overall adult inpatient makeup at the Retreat has changed dramatically in this past year, becoming much more acute.

The staff members who work with these patients are dedicated to improving their quality of life and their capacity to function at their highest possible level. We choose to work with the patients that society often rejects and tries to pretend don't exist. We try to make a difference in these people's lives often doing it under the inherently stressful conditions. These are good people with awful illnesses and trauma histories, which can combine to make them behave in ways that are dangerous to themselves and to others.

The staffing at the Retreat has recently been dramatically cut. Last week the Therapuetic Services department was eliminated on all of the units.


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These are the people who create and carry out the programming that provides the patients opportunities to express themselves in ways that can improve their mental and physical well-being. The TS staff were always creating new and innovative programs and activities for the patients to engage in, and the patients looked forward to every activity offered. To see a patient who was once withdrawn, anxious and disorganized begin to be able to express himself through music or art brings joy to that patient and to all the staff who have worked with him. To see a patient who was paranoid, agitated and threatening become able to calm and center herself through yoga and movement is to witness a near miracle. With last week's layoffs, these opportunities no longer exist at the Retreat.

In addition, the inpatient Chemical Dependency counselors have been eliminated. To even consider treatment of patients who struggle with the dual and complex issues of mental illness and addiction without the presence of drug and alcohol addiction counselors is unthinkable. The website for the Retreat states that it "offers high-quality inpatient and outpatient mental health and addiction treatment for children, adolescents and adults." Is that really possible without the presence of these trained professionals?

I am distressed at what the future of the Retreat looks like for our patients. I am confused and alarmed that the administration has chosen to eliminate such vital programming. We, as a dedicated staff, express our willingness to work with the administration at the bargaining table to effect an outcome that benefits everyone involved, especially the patients as they are, and always have been our first priority.

Eileen J. Glover, RN,

Brattleboro, Nov. 19

Romney would have been a great president

Editor of the Reformer:

Regarding your editorial of Nov. 17 I was going to be content to let the election of 2012 go by and mourn the death of America in private, but since you brought it up I feel I must respond.

Mitt Romney was the best candidate to run for president since possibly Ronald Reagan and if the facts were ever considered clearly a more capable leader and better man for America that the current occupant of the White House. Romney's problem was not a lack of skills or qualifications to be the leader of country, but rather the American citizen's inability to recognize our need for a leader like Romney. The willingness of members of his own party to criticize him now is just politics for 2016. I say if we can't win on principle we don't put a candidate up for 2016 let the liberals have it. They have already struck the mortal blow with the so called "Affordable Care Act" - a designation not unlike "The people's Republic of China." I see no reason why they should not manage a demise of their own making. We can pick up the pieces of America when they are done.

Romney is right about how Obama and the liberals won this election. It is the same way they have been winning elections for years, paying off unions and scaring the hell out of anybody who is on any type of government program ("If you don't vote for me you will lose it all."). They always demonize their opponents as the enemy of the masses. This time more successfully than ever, pitting the poor against the wealthy. Claiming somehow it is the fault of the wealthy that the poor exist and if the wealthy were poorer the poor would be richer.

This is the same message the liberals have been using to keep the poor, disadvantaged and at risk persons on their entitlement plantations ever since the great society was begun nearly 50 years ago. In all those years they have not improved a single statistic for the betterment of those they claim to help except to increase their numbers. Reality or facts notwithstanding, they press on with their message of bondage directing hate and discontent toward anyone who dares to challenge the outcomes, methods or true intent of liberal ideology.

Back to Romney, he lost for three critical reasons. He believed in the greatness of America. He believed Americans would never forsake the greater cause of American ideals over individual self interest, but we did. He believed Americans would never settle for anything less than the absolute best. We settled. Finally, about the 47 percent Romney estimated would not be favorable to his message because they believed they had no stake in the outcome. It was actually 50 percent. We asked for it, and we are going to get it. We can only hope that God will be merciful and spare us from the full measure of our ignorance.

Dwight Zeager,

Brattleboro, Nov. 19

Attacks on and from Gaza - some context

Editor of the Reformer:

With regard to the escalating crisis in the Middle East, I agree with both the need for diplomacy, as well as Israel's right to defend itself from Hamas' terrorist attacks, as stated in your Nov. 20 editorial.

However, the Reformer's depiction of Israel's response as "overkill" without the full context of the intensified rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilians by Hamas, is misleading.

Hamas has been proved to hide its rocket launchers amongst its civilian population as it fires rockets aimed at civilians into Israel. The brunt of the damage has been in Israel's south, however, Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets are now reaching Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, directly threatening as many as 3 million Israelis - 45 percent of Israel's population. These include Israeli Jews, Muslims and Christians. Since the launch of Israel's current military operation, over 800 rockets have been fired from Gaza. On Nov. 15, a rocket fell on an apartment building in Kiryat Malachi, killing three. Over 300 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome, Israel's mobile defense system. Since 2001, well over 14,000 rockets and mortar shells have fallen in southern Israel.

Israel has shown tremendous restraint in the face of the unceasing rocket and mortar fire launched from Gaza. This operation is directly targeting the leadership responsible for these attacks, as well as the warehouses and facilities housing their weapons. No country in the world would stand by and tolerate such attacks on more than a million civilians. In light of the unceasing attacks, Israel had no choice but to act against Hamas and eliminate its operational capabilities. It is important to remember that Israel fully redeployed from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, uprooting Israeli settlers and removing military installations, in the hope that the Palestinians would govern Gaza responsibly and peacefully. Instead, the Hamas leadership has turned Gaza into an armed camp, creating and maintaining the conditions for a humanitarian crisis, and forcing the isolation of the Gazan population. Israeli is ensuring that the flow of humanitarian goods into Gaza continues.

Martin Cohn,

Newfane, Nov. 21

Got used clothes? There's a need

Editor of the Reformer:

Winter is fast approaching and local folks need your help. Once again, Warm Hands, Warm Heart is asking our local communities to part with their new or slightly used clothing. This year, we need outer clothing for adults, teens and especially for the young and infant.

We are also appealing to the all the mothers, grand-mothers and great-grands for infant and toddler warm wear such as the onesies and feety PJs - if you're out at any of the discount stores, check out the prices and maybe pick one or two of these up; I know the little ones will appreciate your generosity.

Again, the Brattleboro Masons are graciously permitting us the use of their front porch as a collection point - we sincerely thank them for their support.

This year, we are also asking for monetary donations with which we will purchase those essential items not donated. Please make your check out to: Warm Hands, with "clothing" on the memo line and send to: Warm Hands, PO Box 6214, Brattleboro, VT 05301. As we view the havoc wrecked by Sandy, our hearts go out to those folks but we have needs here in Southern Vermont. Your donations - every single one of them - will be distributed to local folks in need. Our organization is completely voluntary with no overhead.

Robert L. Fagge,

chairman, Warm Hands, Nov. 21

Thanks to voters

Editor of the Reformer:

I am writing to express my gratitude to the voters in Chesterfield, Hinsdale, Walpole and Westmoreland. Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the N.H. House of Representatives. Also, I want to thank the many volunteers who contributed their time and effort to elect not only me, but all of the members of my Cheshire 01 House District Team including Paul Berch, Tara Sad and Lucy Weber.

Finally, if I can ever be of assistance to you on matters related to the State of New Hampshire, please do not hesitate to contact me at williambutynski@aol.com or 603-336-7498. Sometimes I can help and sometimes not, but I am happy to listen and try to do my best to assist you.

Bill Butynski,

N.H. State Representative, Hinsdale, N.H., Nov. 18