Letters to the Editor

From the week of June 21, 2001

Trickle-Down Economics

Liquid assets:Regarding David Holthouse's "Toast of the Town," in the June 14 issue:

I have friends who have worked at Denver C.A.R.E.S., so I know all about the place. Make no mistake: Its only purpose is to warehouse drunks so they won't offend business and moral sensibilities. Its prisoners should only be provided minimal service on site (if any!): a place to sleep and a word to the wise. There's nothing redemptive about the place. Talk about a hellhole! Tough love is needed there, not "gimme more" mollycoddling, though its charges should always be treated with dignity. We can't afford to be patsies in the alcoholic game. On a referral basis, other facilities could pick up the slack for those very few who want help and prove capable of real change.

The real issue lies in our mainstreaming/warehousing the mentally ill/character flawed to keep public costs down rather than addressing their real problems in any real way. There are few answers, so we just sweep them into the ditch. Tragic, isn't it?

Gene W. Edwards
Lakewood

It's enough to drive you to drink:When most people are diagnosed with a disease -- particularly one that places them in treatment centers on a regular basis -- they do what they can to cure it. It's really difficult to work up any sympathy for drunks who have nothing better to do than complain about free lodging and being "forced" to clean up. They are offered a free "cure" for their "disease." But only 8 percent of them take advantage of this, while most try to run from it. Alcoholism may be a disease (I'm still not entirely convinced of this), but living life as a drunk is a choice.

So glad I could do my part to support them.

Name withheld on request

State of emergency:I am an emergency RN at St. Joseph Hospital; I have been there for nearly five years. I also work the rest of the ER system all over Denver and surrounding areas. I have mixed feelings about Denver C.A.R.E.S., in that it does provide a "depressurization [of] the emergency department," as stated by Dr. Cantrill. The patients who present, almost always by ambulance, are usually people we recognize. The presenting complaint is "too drunk for detox." They receive IV fluids, usually some lab work, sometimes an EKG, nearly always ask for a dinner tray, and then ask for clothing to go to detox in. Sometimes they spit on us, yell and swear, urinate on the floor and require a large amount of our time to clean up and monitor for everyone's safety. They are very disruptive, and they scare the elderly and very young patients that share their space.

They are a huge financial burden to the health-care industry, because they have no monetary means of support (except for their alcohol and cigarettes!). On the other hand, how do we cure them? No one wants to shoulder the financial pain of years of rehab, housing, education, job placement and their mental- and physical-health problems. Can we ethically prohibit them from alcohol? Can we stop their drug use? Can we cure their depression? Apparently not at this time. Because of the almighty dollar, the underprivileged and indigent population is out of medicine's reach. So we all admit these people are a burden, but no one, including myself, can propose a working solution. The old African proverb that "it takes an entire village to raise a child" could teach us something about the way we handle ourselves as human beings in America.

P.S.: The front page of the article was nearly unreadable because some text was omitted. The Internet version was complete.

Richard Chatterton
Elizabeth

Editor's note: Our apologies to readers and to David Holthouse, whose story lost several lines on the opening page. (Owing to a technical error, the headline hid the copy.) Here is the the complete and correct "Toast of the Town".


Fighting Fire With Fire

Kenny Be good:After reading the letters in the June 14, I want to come to the defense of Kenny Be. His Worst-Case Scenario is the first page I turn to in Westword every week. Although I sometimes cringe at what I find there, it is usually because Kenny has hit on a truth that we often do not want to see. He illuminates situations ranging from Denver City Council to Columbine to, yes, even Westy the cat in his June 7 Worst-Case Scenario.

The letter writers' suggestions that Kenny be set on fire are appalling. Is that the way we have a civilized discussion in this society?

Jake Tomasso
via the Internet

Animal instincts: I am writing in response to Kenny Be's June 7 cartoon about Westy the cat, which I found humorless and offensive. I don't understand how you could have allowed this cartoon to be published. I have always counted on your publication to expose explicit and interesting stories. I would have had much more respect for your publication, and I think you could have made a much more responsible choice, if you had exposed and talked about animal cruelty and what it can and does lead to, including domestic violence, rape and even murder.

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