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Outpatient care helps mentally ill

Thank you for your Dec. 23 article on the region's problem of limited resources for people with mental illness (Many miles to recovery).

While the focus on hospitalization is important, the article significantly noted that outpatient resources have become 'thinner and thinner,' leading to more severe problems that grow into crises. Despite that fact, Cascadia, working collaboratively with Multnomah County, has successfully reduced unnecessary hospitalizations from a high of 1,054 acute bed days in July 2003, to an average of 500 per month for the past six months.

Having someone who can be treated in a clinic or in their home transported by ambulance to a hospital hundreds of miles away is tragic on several levels. As your article noted, local outpatient treatment is more humane for those who it is appropriate for, and significantly less expensive for the taxpayers.

Leslie Ford

President & chief executive officer, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

Southwest Portland

Holes in system put load on hospitals

Thanks for the article on transporting of mental health patients around the state (Many miles to recovery, Dec. 23). Recently, Asante in Medford had to transport a patient who resides three blocks from the hospital to Portland for treatment Ñ the last psychiatric bed at the Medford hospital had just been filled by a mental health patient transferred from Portland.

A significant portion of this Gordian knot is the lack of mental health beds in the Oregon State Hospital system. The state is forcing acute care hospitals to act as holding sites for mentally ill patients awaiting transfer into the state system.

Kevin Earls

Vice president finance and health policy, Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems

Lake Oswego

It takes gall to ask for new taxes

State, county and city officials should all be ashamed of themselves (School measure comes into focus, Dec. 13).

Three years ago, they used scare tactics to convince taxpayers that criminals would roam the streets looking for victims, the elderly and mentally ill would be living under bridges, and our children would be illiterate if we didn't vote to approve a 'temporary' income tax. They also promised that they would work to fix the problem of school funding before the I-tax expired and that no additional taxes would be necessary.

What happened to those promises? Why is the question even being raised again? Where are the solutions they promised? Portland Public Schools is facing an $88 million shortfall next year Ñ did they not see this coming?

I, like most Oregonians, try to live within my means. Almost every month my family earns more than it spends, December being the exception. Now I learned in college, painfully sometimes, that it's best not to buy things that you have no way of paying for.

If I were, for example, to impulse-buy a shiny new hybrid car, and had no way of making the payment, would I then go to my boss and say, 'Gee boss, I know that my salary is 'X,' but I am unable to control my spending, so I must insist that you give me a raise.' What do you suppose his response would be? Our (taxpayer) response should be exactly the same: No. Get your house in order, or suffer the consequences.

We have been suffering the consequences of an inefficient system for too long. First, we must fix our spending and utilization of existing funds before asking for more. Second, we should terminate elected officials who continue to ask for raises because they can't manage with what they have.

A revolutionary idea requires revolutionary thinking, not new taxes.

Maurice Troute

Southwest Portland