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Letters to the Editor (7/22/15)

Published July 22, 2015 at 10:00 a.m.
Updated July 24, 2015 at 10:54 a.m.

Top Cop

[Re "Burlington City Councilors Stand By Their Man: Del Pozo Is New Police Chief," July 15]: I'm a New York City resident, filmmaker and transportation advocate who's had the pleasure of meeting and working with Brandon del Pozo on several occasions. Trust me, landing him as your chief of police is a big gain for Burlington. He's incredibly smart and passionate and, most importantly, he truly gets it. I've seen some of the community's comments and concerns as I've read about his new position in Burlington. I understand them. But I know that over time you'll see how lucky you are to have Mr. del Pozo as your chief. His loss will be a big one for NYC. He's truly one of the good guys. I wish we had more like him.

Braden King

Brooklyn, N.Y.

Outdated Treatment

The article "Missing Mohamed" [July 1] was extremely sad, but not surprising. It was distressing to read afterward, on a Department of Mental Health website, that the state is bringing treatment into the 21st century. I find that laughable because nearly 30 years ago, as a dance/movement psychotherapy intern at Princeton medical center's addictions and psychiatric hospital, I witnessed what good treatment is. Patients were there not just to be medicated but to engage in all-day programming, including individual and group psychotherapy, expressive arts psychotherapies, activities therapy, living skills groups, yoga, arts and crafts — all led by highly trained professionals working to help patients stabilize and develop recovery skills. The minimum stay was 28 days.

While there, I had the opportunity to speak with professionals from other hospital programs. Even in the worst state-run hospitals, patients were provided with a variety of therapy experiences. Hospitalization wasn't the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest experience we tend to associate it with.

Imagine my dismay upon returning to Vermont to discover that no such program existed except on a smaller scale at the Brattleboro Retreat. I'm still waiting for the day when we catch up to that 20th-century level of care. Where treatment isn't ruled by insurance and pharmaceutical companies but guided by competent treatment teams. Where there is access to the appropriate level of care, including humane inpatient programs when appropriate. There may always be some who decline treatment, but perhaps that would happen less with more and better options.

Luanne Sberna


Screen Test

In "Missing Mohamed" [July 1] Mark Davis writes: "Screeners — usually clinicians from community health teams or local hospitals — make the initial determination if someone qualifies for treatment. Schirling said he believes the screeners are often too reluctant to mandate treatment."

I am the social work supervisor on the community health team in the Burlington health service area. There are community health teams in each county in Vermont, and each operates uniquely to meet the needs of community. In this health service area, the its community health team does not, in fact, work as "screeners" to make any determination if someone qualifies for mandated treatment. That is not within the scope of our role on the team. We are licensed independent clinical social workers working with primary care practices to offer support around mental health needs and community resources. 

Certainly when we meet with a patient with significant mental illness, or who poses a threat to themselves or others, we do ensure they go to the emergency room or are in contact with the local crisis center, which in fact is designated as a screener that can mandate treatment. The article highlighted the significant needs that face our community and we are committed to working with the patients we serve to identify mental health needs, but we are not, as the article indicated, screeners for mandated treatment.

Kerry Sullivan, LICSW


Unappealing Apparel

Hello Seven Days! I enjoy your newspaper. It is in fact the only one I read on a regular basis. However, I am often disgusted by the American Apparel advertisements portraying young women as teenagers/children. The ad on the back of the July 1 issue is particularly disturbing, as it depicts a young lady as a playful child who looks like she could be my 12-year-old niece. I am sure American Apparel pays you well for the advertisements. I would be happy to pay up for the weekly read in exchange for nonsexist, child-porn-free reading.

Rebecca Agone


STEM sell

[Re Poli Psy: "UVM: At What Cost STEM?" June 17]: Judith Levine is correct in saying that "money matters more than anything" to the nation's top college executives. Tuition at both public and private intuitions has grown faster than inflation for years, according to U.S. News & World Report, and both STEM and humanities graduates face high unemployment and low wages. Meanwhile, as the Chronicle of Higher Education has noted, presidents of public universities raked in a median salary of $423,000 in 2014.

A lot of people are making a lot of money on selling an increasingly worthless product — college degrees — to unsuspecting consumers. Most of these profiteers likely aren't concerned about whether STEM programs produce renewable energy technologies, invent killing machines or tend toward what UVM president Tom Sullivan calls "the advancement of society" [Feedback: "In Defense of STEM," July 1]. All they know is that STEM programs sell.

Once the market is saturated with jobless comp-sci grads, I'm sure colleges will invest in new humanities centers. Success in both economic and personal life depends not on having a degree, but on being unique and innovative. Eighteen-year-olds, beware: The first step to making your way in this world does not involve letting old men in suits fleece you into taking on $100,000 in debt so you can sleep through class in a shiny STEM building.

Timothy West


Speaking of Feedback



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