Chapel Hill: Opinion

July 18, 2014

Your letters, July 20

On behalf of El Centro Hispano we would like to thank everyone who came out for El Centro Hispano’s first annual Latin America Festival on June 8 in Carrboro.

Gracias a todos

On behalf of El Centro Hispano we would like to thank everyone who came out for El Centro Hispano’s first annual Latin America Festival on June 8 in Carrboro.

We celebrated the diversity of the Latino community through dance, music and food. A number of free events were geared toward the children. They made dolls, rockets, lunch boxes and planes in the “art corner.” The children also loved the face painting. Children and adults danced to salsa, rock and roll and had a grand time. It was truly a family affair. Overall the event was a success, and we could not have done it without the support of the community.

We thank everyone who came out (and stayed through the rain!). It was wonderful to see such support for the Latino community. El Centro Hispano is happy to be part of such a welcoming community.

Paula Gildner

El Centro Hispano Development Committee

Inhumane treatment of mentally ill

I second the recent comments by Jo Ann Ragazzo (CHN, July 16, bit.ly/UfrYJ1). In addition to the lack of privacy, the conditions under which mentally ill patients are “processed” in this ER are truly horrifying and shameful. It is time the public becomes aware of this.

I recently had a family member make a good decision to seek help with terrible psychiatric suffering, by making the very brave decision to go into the hospital. What we discovered there, and my family member endured there, was not only sad, but barbaric by modern standards.

Mentally ill patients are triaged and then after some period of time placed in a locked area where a family member may stay with them (so far OK). Then they are placed in another locked area where they are alone, not even given medications their psychiatrist may have prescribed for them – a small room with absolutely nothing in it. This area is commonly known (even by some of the staff!) as “the hole.”

Unbelievably they are kept there for up to two or three days, depending upon how busy the ER is and how many beds are available on the various psych wards. During this time there is no contact with family members (who have no idea actually where they are during this time or how they are doing). Finally they are assessed by a team and decisions are made.

My family member was completely traumatized by this treatment – it was as though these people were being punished for coming in for help (some had been placed there involuntarily). This felt like a throwback to the 1970s. Would the ER even consider throwing a diabetic patient in “the hole” alone for a few days before deciding how to help them? The mentally ill are the group with the least political clout and generally the least financial clout. But it is high time we as a nation made the decision that people who are ill, and mental illness is a physical disease – a disease affecting the brain instead of the kidneys, the heart, the liver, must all be treated with the same respect.

To be fair, I had substantial contact with the faculty member who is in charge of the ER and voiced my outrage at these conditions. He was most helpful and well aware of the issue. This situation, like the failure of our state to accept the (free) Medicaid expansion, is largely a result of massive cutbacks in resources and closings of other mental health facilities with nowhere for these patients to go other than to pour into UNC. My family member did eventually get on one of the wards, but after a too-hasty discharge ended up needing further help but was too terrified to return to UNC. We ended up at Duke Regional, where the care was remarkably humane and there was no “time in the hole.”

Kathy Underhill

Chapel Hill

A wakeup call

The recent National Climate Assessment is a sobering reminder that climate disruption is happening and it is impacting communities in all corners of the country. This report should be a wakeup call – especially for those who deny climate change. It also makes clear that we must make every effort to reduce the dangerous pollution driving climate change – starting with limiting carbon pollution from the nation’s single largest polluter: power plants.

Climate change has already fueled rising seas, rising temperatures, and stronger hurricanes that affect communities across North Carolina. Extreme heat events mean more days above 95 degrees, impacting crops and livestock; the 2002 drought alone cost North Carolina’s agricultural industry $398 million. The state Department of Transportation has begun to raise the roadbed of Highway 64 across the scenic Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula to account for higher water levels that will change the shape of our coastlines and force homeowners to relocate.

It’s crystal clear that we can no longer afford inaction. President Obama’s Climate Action Plan will help to tackle climate change and finally put limits on carbon pollution from power plants – just like we already do for other dangerous air pollution like mercury, arsenic and lead. We need elected officials to follow his lead and live up to our moral obligation to confront the climate crisis. (216 words)

Loyd Trimmer

Chapel Hill

New blue bins are ugly

To those who made the decision to supply us with new recycling bins in blue: How do you spell aesthetics? (CHN, July 9, bit.ly/1sxPK1Q) Aside from the bins’ bulkiness and weight and taxpayers’ money spent, they are ugly. They stick out in a green environment.

Money and efficiency are not everything! I wonder, if you could have done better had you asked for input from your customers.

Michael H. Hoppe

Chapel Hill

Love the new bins

We love the new blue recycling bins! (CHN, July 9, bit.ly/1sxPK1Q) They’re easier to get to the curb than the old totes, and they keep trash from becoming a soggy mess in the rain. Plus, it's kind of cool watching the truck pick them up with the robot arm!

Now if we could only get bio bins like I had when I lived in Germany (for food waste), then my trash dreams would be fulfilled.

Thanks to the solid waste folks for doing this!

Susan Prytherch

Chapel Hill

Purchasing error

I’m glad to see Dr. Yeo speak out about the big blue carts (CHN, July 9, bit.ly/1sxPK1Q). Looks like a purchasing error has provided homeowners with commercial-size recycling bins. I can barely drag mine around empty; I certainly couldn't do so with stuff in it. We also have no street frontage free of tree limbs.

We are not conspicuous consumers. We filled our old bin about every two weeks: a few cans, a few bottles, a few Chapel Hill Newses. The bins could be kept on our porch or indoors. We've no place for the new cart, because our garbage cart occupies the only place out of sight near our back door. As for the carts being easy to clean out: who thinks that? I can't even reach the bottom of our garbage cart to scrub it out.

The recycling carts look like death-traps for raccoons. Now if we only had some the right size for deer ...

Marie Pauwels

Chapel Hill

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