Thursday, August 02, 2007

Another tragedy that "could have been avoided"

A letter to the editor in today’s Allentown Morning Call:

Gary Miller did not deserve to die as he did (The Morning Call, Aug. 1). His son, Kenneth, did not deserve to be hospitalized as a criminal. The death of the father by the son could have been avoided if only the health authorities listened to a pleading mother. My cousin Marjorie pleaded and cried out for help on numerous occasions. As late as Saturday (and Monday), she pleaded for her son to be helped.

Several times, she called Crisis Intervention, but always the same questions were asked of the patient. The mother, who had common sense, was ignored. Naturally, the sick patient will answer questions as he sees the situation, not knowing himself how sick he is. A mother, with all her love for her son, knows what is best for him!

A caseworker told my cousin her Kenneth could not be hospitalized for not taking his medicine. He should have been hospitalized and made to take his medicine. Then perhaps, the death would not have happened. It seems nothing can be done until something happens. Well, something did happen -- a loving father was knifed by his loving, but delusional son.

Now, that son is lying in a bed in a hospital as a criminal, instead of being in the hospital as a sick patient, as plans are being made for the burial of his father.

Our family is furious! We call upon all state legislators to look into the matter and change the laws.

John F. McHugh

The Pennsylvania Senate has the opportunity to take up the call of Mr. McHugh. SB226 has been introduced in the Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee for consideration this legislative session. Modeled after New York’s highly successful Kendra’s Law SB226 would update Pennsylvania’s outpatient commitment law to ensure that individuals in need were able to receive consistent care in the community. Its passage will be a monumental step forward for Pennsylvania consumers and their families. We urge all of our Pennsylvania readers to contact their Senator and tell them to support SB226 as a commonsense approach to helping the most severely mentally ill.

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