Letters June 25: Confinement of seniors; addiction not a joke; E&N corridor

Solitary confinement for seniors

Re: “Allow vulnerable people designated visitors,” letter, June 24.

I read with sadness the letter-writer’s description of her father’s death. The current use of solitary confinement for patients in long-term care and hospitals is unacceptable.

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Keeping patients safe from COVID-19 should not mean imprisonment. Last year when my 86-year-old mother fell and broke her hip she spent 10 weeks in hospital.

I went in every day and helped with her care and rehab; getting her out of bed, doing exercises, walking her in the hallways, and showering her.

Most of this would not have happened had I not been there to do it. Even her stint in “rehab” was woefully inadequate consisting of occasional group “chair exercises” that did not involve walking. When I was away for a week, I hired a care worker to go in every day to walk with her. The staff simply didn’t have time.

I fear that without my intervention she would not be with us and walking independently today.

We must be advocates for our loved ones. One designated family caregiver must be allowed in for daily visits to hospitals and long-term care homes now.

Sheila Schmidt

Alcohol addiction is not a joke

Re: “B.C. investigates claims of hospital racism where staff guessed alcohol level,” June 19.

I was deeply disappointed to read of the allegations of staff playing a “game” to guess the blood alcohol level of patients (and even worse, it’s associated with racism) in hospital emergency rooms.

It appears that the understanding of addiction is still an area of ignorance in medical facilities, with the exception of a few specialized places such as the Cool Aid clinic.

Granted, addiction is highly complex and to understand it requires a lot of experience and knowledge collected over a long period (ask anyone who has had a family member hijacked by this horrible situation).

Addiction is a not a joke. Perhaps more facilities should be established with staff knowledgeable in this destructive and socially costly disorder. In the meantime, hospital management must take an educational approach to alleviate this state of ignorance.

Deborah Crawford

Would you joke about cancer patients?

Re: “No proof hospital guessing game is racist,” letter, June 23.

The letter-writer states: “I have to shake my head in wonder at the people falling all over themselves claiming everything to be racist these days.” I feel the urge to lower my head and sigh, but must respond when I read this kind of dismissive language.

The letter goes on to say: “Hospital staff have a difficult job” (true), and guess other things such as the length of a woman’s labour or newborn’s weight. These are not fair analogies.

Cancer nurses guessing patients’ platelet levels would be more on par. Perhaps this happens, and would also be upsetting to hear. Yes, black humour, thoughtless remarks, and mistakes occur amongst hospital staff, surely. So, too, exist racist attitudes, as they exist in all our institutions.

It is easier and perhaps more comforting to be dismissive or rationalize away these recent allegations of racism toward Indigenous patients in our hospitals than it is to confront them, or to educate ourselves on the many ways we judge, exclude and dismiss.

This is part of the “difficult job” not only hospital workers, but all of us on Vancouver Island need to do.

Thank you to the whistleblowers who brought to light these concerns. I am also grateful to those who are investigating them seriously.

Celeste Derksen

Columnist attempts to justify police killings

Re: “Social services need more funding — but not from police budgets,” column, June 21.

Lawrie McFarlane misuses data to argue against defunding the police. He attempts to justify police killing of Indigenous and Black people by reporting that 30 per cent of Canadians accused of homicide were Indigenous.

The most obvious problem is that accusation is not equivalent to conviction of a crime. Indigenous people are an easy target for the police, but please inform us how many were convicted.

Even if Indigenous people were guilty of these crimes, that is not a justification for police murder of Indigenous and Black people.

Police could operate without weapons as they do in some EU countries and the U.K. Even better would be a system in which persons with mental-health issues would be approached by those who can offer support and medical help, not gunshots.

The funding for these mental health teams should come at least in part from the police budget, since police would be relieved of these responsibilities.

I am disgusted to keep reading of police murders of mentally ill people needing help, but receiving bullets instead. This is against the values for which Canada stands.

Edwin E. Daniel

Fund mental-health, addictions treatment

The idea of defunding the police and redirecting public funds into health and social services is becoming popular, but it could come with tragic consequences for the mental-health workers dispatched when the individual in distress pulls a knife.

Who is best trained and equipped to deal with a troubled and violent person?

Police wrongdoing is not limited to the United States, and allegations should always be thoroughly investigated, but contemporary thinking that when there are tragic results, it must be the fault of police, is just not a reasonable conclusion.

Victoria taxpayers should not have to assume the cost of combating mental illness and addiction, which is a provincial responsibility. Instead of housing people with mental illness and addictions in motels, a better solution would be building mental-health and addictions facilities to provide treatment.

Until treatment is provided, the problems are going to continue in our communities.

Wayne Cox

The people want a multi-use trail

Re: “What should we do with the E&N Island rail corridor,” Guy Dauncey, June 21.

I believe that if the government were to take a poll on a multi-use walking and cycling trail from Langford to Courtenay and Port Alberni, the support would be a landslide to go ahead with that option.

We live in Nanoose Bay and every time we want to ride to Nanaimo or farther, we must load up our bikes on the car so as to avoid riding on the busy Island Highway.

We recently rode with friends from Parksville to Qualicum, starting from the trail at Wembley Mall to downtown Qualicum. The trail was packed with families riding, seniors riding and walking. It was a great ride. Now, can you imagine being able to do that up and down the Island, available to everyone?

We have transitioned to electric bikes as a way to stay in shape and we see this as an exciting opportunity for residents. We also think this would be a gem for international tourism.

The people at the Island Corridor Foundation, unfortunately, have their paycheques tied to bringing back an old rail car chugging up the Island once a day and they are doing everything they can to slow the progress to a multi-use trail.

The government needs someone with vision to carry this project forward as hopefully it happens in our lifetime.

BP Adam
Nanoose Bay

Stop letting Americans drive to Alaska

Re: “U.S. residents en route to Alaska via Canada ticketed for breaking health rules,” June 22.

I find it inconceivable that Canada is allowing citizens of the United States (the most COVID-19 infected country in the world) to travel through Canada to Alaska and back in vehicles. These travellers could leave a trail of COVID-19 in their wake up and down the country.

To top it off, many of them are stopping on the way to spend part of their vacation in Canada. The federal government should put a stop to this practice immediately.

Christopher Marchant

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