Contact legislators to protect mental health care

Editor,

My husband and I are natives of North Carolina. We are the parents of a son with a mental illness that he did not choose. When our son became sick in his late teens, this began the battle for my son’s very life.

Once our son was diagnosed, we began the challenge of providing him the care needed for him to survive. This included multiple hospitalizations, substance abuse programs, 24-hour supervision and years of working closely with his doctors to find the right medications. This required putting my life aside to fight for his care. Countless hours of prayer and endless tears became my life. Fighting for his care and getting the support needed became my normal.

After more than 11 years of fighting alongside my son, he is finally stable. This is made possible by providing my son a safe and familiar environment through the supervision of his medication along with the watchful eye of the team of caregivers around him, with their quick response when a red flag arises. This also includes the emotional support needed to comfort and support him. I’ve witnessed firsthand the sadness and disappointment in his eyes as he has had to realize what this illness has stolen from him.

Upon hearing about legislative changes, effective Jan. 1, 2013, to be able to qualify for personal care services, I was very disturbed. Basically, those like my son who are receiving Medicaid would have to demonstrate unmet need for assistance with three qualifying activities of daily living (ADLs). The five qualifying ADLs are bathing, dressing, mobility, toileting and eating. My son’s need, and most mentally ill, is not in this area. They can cover these five ADLs, but they require care for the stability of their medications, supervision on cooking, doctor appointments, the care of their mental disability and areas far more than these five ADLs.

In recent history, there have been several cases that involved horrible crimes committed by persons with mental illness. I’m thinking of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Connecticut and the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. These people could all bathe and dress themselves, were mobile, could go to the bathroom and feed themselves. These ADLs would have determined they were mentally stable.

Please join me in writing your senators, congressmen and governor to remove the requirement of ADLs as a basis for funding of those needing assisted living for mental illness. Instead we need new definitions that cover the assistance people actually need to help them live as independently as they can, and these need to be funded. If House Bill 5 is passed, we will have a short-term solution at least for those in group homes, but we need a long-term solution that carries us past June 30 and gives us a sense of stability to our most vulnerable citizens.

To find the emails for your senators and representatives, go to www.ncleg.net. To contact Gov. Pat McCrory, go to www.governor.state.nc.us.

I am very grateful for the care that has been provided for our son in this state, and I think you on behalf of the other residents. We would not be where we are in this journey with mental illness without the help that we have received.

– Pat Townsend, Cornelius

 

I-77 charrette more of a charade

Editor,

A citizen information meeting billed by Mayor Jill Swain as a charrette on the HOT lanes was held last Wednesday at the Huntersville town hall.

Charrettes are organized to encourage the participation of all. That includes everyone who is interested in the making of a development: the developer, business interests, government officials, interested residents and activists.

Is that why the meeting was held at 2:30 in the afternoon, when most of the folks who will use this road were at work?

Widen I-77, a citizen advocacy organization that has done extensive research on HOT lanes, was not allowed to present information at this meeting. Who will give the non-government side of the story? Is the Huntersville town board just shills for the government project?

The timing and format of the meeting more closely represented a charade (an absurd pretense intended to create a pleasant or respectable appearance). The so-called experts touted by Mayor Swain from the N.C. DOT – and they very well may be experts – work for the government, so they may favor the solution the government came up with. Why would the mayor dismiss the expertise and experience of those who have put in hundreds of hours researching this issue?

The Lake Norman region has not seen any road improvements since the highway was built. Other areas of the state have seen road improvements which encourage economic development. Why, after years of being neglected, do the citizens of this major transit corridor have to pay a toll for adequate roads?

The Huntersville Board of Commissioners needs to stand up for us and pass a resolution to study alternatives to the HOT lanes.

– Mark Gibbons, Huntersville