I would like to thank Nathan Comp for his informative article on child and adolescent mental health issues and the important gap filled by the staff and physicians of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital at Meriter ("The Kids Aren't All Right," 9/14/07).
I think all of us have friends or family members who have suffered from mental illness, and we know firsthand the declining availability of services for the mentally ill as well as the lack of adequate health insurance coverage for our patients.
The more attention focused on the issue of mental health parity will be key to our addressing these concerns, and I would urge your readers to use Mr. Comp's article as an opportunity to speak to your legislators about the dire need for mental health parity in Wisconsin.
Jim Woodward, president and CEO, Meriter Health Services/Meriter Hospital
Nathan Comp's article was excellent in pointing out what families of kids with unexplained neurological/ behavioral disorders are going through. What disappointed me was that the author never asked the experts at Meriter what is behind the explosion in these disorders.
The first question I would have asked is what effect does the injection of 25,000 parts per billion of organic mercury, at birth, have on a susceptible child's brain development. To protect children from hepatitis B, an adult lifestyle disease, this is exactly what Meriter did from 1990 to 2001. This would have been the first of many questions I would have had for these experts.
It's unfortunate the adolescent psychiatric hospital is losing money. This is in spite of the fact that it charges $20,000 for a seven-day stay just to get a psychiatric label. I think this service is the least Meriter can do for the community.
I was disappointed that you didn't list the resources available to parents struggling to find help for their children with serious mental illnesses.
The best resource for Wisconsin residents is Wisconsin Family Ties, 800-422-7145. Dane County NAMI also offers a course called "Hand to Hand," designed for parents who have children with serious mental health problems. I will teach that course in February 2008.
Both organizations are struggling to obtain funds to survive and serve a needy population.
Congratulations to Nathan Comp. His article was an informative look at the reality of treatable mental illness in kids under 19 years of age. What piqued my interest, however, was the use of the word "psychiatrist" only twice in the article.
I had expected to read quotes from the medical director of the unit, child and adolescent psychiatrist Brian Vasey, M.D. However, the article reads as though the psychiatrist is an off-site consultant rather than an integral part of patient care and a source of leadership for the treatment team.
Nearly daily psychiatric evaluations and daily team meetings are the standard of care for an inpatient psychiatric facility, and this is standard protocol for the Meriter unit.
Erik Ulland, M.D.
Blaska's sordid ideas
David Blaska's "Let the Crackdown Begin" (8/31/07) is nothing more than regurgitated conservative shibboleths. Their answer to crime is always the Big Guns: more police, less personal freedom, and all the rest of the misanthropic litany America has had to put up with for decades.
I don't know what Blaska's qualifications are to set crime policy - even Giuliani was a former federal prosecutor. It's always the same with these guys. After proudly recounting his boorish behavior towards his "number one son," Blaska unrolls his sordid ideas for making the city into a place where guys like him can push folks around.
"When in doubt - stop and frisk," he writes. Such a man is an enemy of the Constitution. We don't have to sit idly by, watching internal cancers like the Drug War gnaw away at the guts of our democracy. Regular folks must be heard or the Bushes, Giulianis and Blaskas will eviscerate the Land Of The Free.
Dave Michon, Eau Claire
Regarding your coverage of Dane County's cuts to social services ("No More Shelter From The Storm," 9/14/07): Inequitable state and federal funding formulas for low-income child-care subsidies also greatly disadvantage Dane County.
Under the proposed changes, if you are poor you are going to be a lot worse off in Dane County than, say, in Grant County because the federal use of a single statewide income eligibility standard automatically screws areas of the state with higher costs of living in housing and child care.
This is often obscured by the larger amounts of money Dane County receives. But if you look at the relative level of services alone, you can often see a significant disproportion in the amount of funds provided per unit of service.
It seems questionable to have formulas that hurt the areas of the state with the highest need so that poor people (more likely in urban areas to be black and Hispanic) get a smaller percentage of services paid for with state and federal funds than low-income families in other parts of the state.
Why should the poor and disabled here be set up to fail because formulas are not adjusted for the local cost of living?
George Hagenauer, Springdale
Regarding the Watchdog item on Charter Communications adding new "faith and values" digital channels (8/3/07): There is also faith-based programming on non-cable TV - Channel 23 (3 Angels Network or 3ABN) and Channel 38 (Trinity Broadcast Network or TBN).
I discovered these one night while checking what is available without cable. You will not see them listed in either the Cap Times or State Journal TV sections. They have chosen to keep the public in the dark about positive, uplifting television.
Donn Eithun's life
Thanks for giving me a second chance to see Donn Eithun's face (20 Years Ago in Isthmus, 9/7/07). I met Donn soon after I moved here in the early '70s, both of us older students at MATC. Once you knew him, you didn't forget him.
Although I was saddened to learn of his untimely death years later, your article reminded me that he packed a lot of life into the years he had.