Juvenile mental health gaps

An Aug. 10 BDN article cited a report issued by Disability Rights Maine about the frequency of staff calling the police for support in residential community mental health programs for youth.

That report reflects a sad reality that there is a gap in services to care for the special needs of youth with high aggression in a residential setting, where many of the children who are in treatment have been affected by deep trauma.

Sweetser staff members, including those at our Rockport facility highlighted in the report, are among the most caring and compassionate in the industry. It is due to their dedication and training that many Maine children have been kept out of the corrections system. Also, because of these services, Maine has been able to reduce the number of children being served in juvenile corrections facilities to less than 100.

As stated in the article, Sweetser has established partnerships with local police departments and juvenile probation offices and has engaged with them in strategies that use a community approach. These efforts and others have kept many children in-state for treatment — close to their families and other support systems. Many others have had to leave the state for services not offered in Maine.

More work needs to be done — ideally through collaborative efforts that bring community partners together for comprehensive planning for the benefit of these children, their families and Maine communities.

Jim Martin

Vice president of programs



Cancer screenings save lives

In honor of National Health Center Week, the American Cancer Society wants to recognize Maine Primary Care Association for its efforts to reduce the unequal burden of cancer in Maine.

Nationwide, people aren’t receiving life-saving cancer screenings, resources and follow-up care because of barriers including poverty, lack of access to services and the perception screening tests are invasive.

Together, the society and community health centers across Maine are providing quality, affordable cancer screening and prevention services to people who need them most. For example, Penobscot Community Health Center has worked to improve its colorectal cancer screening practices by providing take-home stool test kits and referrals for colonoscopies.

Recently, the center helped a 68-year-old who didn’t want a colonoscopy. A nurse convinced him to do an easy take-home test. Results were positive. This nurse spent a lot of time reassuring this patient and answering questions. In March, he had the colonoscopy, and doctors removed four cancerous lesions. The work of the nurse and center likely saved his life. It’s efforts like these that increased the center’s screening rate from 38.85 percent to 65 percent in two years.

Screenings can save lives when cancer or precancer is detected early and treated. For many who are underinsured or uninsured, getting screened can be difficult if not impossible. The American Cancer Society is committed to partnering with community health centers to reach these populations and applauds health centers for their work to ensure everyone has equal access to cancer education, screening tests and follow-up care.

Anne Graham

Health systems manager

American Cancer Society of Maine

North Yarmouth

LePage’s racist remarks

Gov. Paul LePage’s initial silence in the wake of Saturday’s deadly racist violence in Virginia was deafening. An overwhelming majority of U.S. governors have definitively denounced the white supremacist terrorism visited on Charlottesville, a city known as a beacon of education, tolerance and diversity. These values are anathema to the violent racists who descended on Charlottesville, and they are apparently also anathema to LePage, who has adopted the stance of President Trump in assigning blame to both sides for an act of domestic terrorism perpetrated by a white supremacist.

LePage himself has made numerous divisive, deeply offensive and wholly unacceptable racist remarks throughout his tenure, beginning by telling the Maine NAACP to “ kiss my butt” in response to a cordial invitation to a Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast and shamefully continuing in that vein.

Instead of examining his own beliefs, he has lashed out at those who have identified his remarks as racist, painting himself as a victim for being called out on what is in fact hate speech. Now LePage’s initial silence, then his choice to blame both sides in the wake of a national crisis speak volumes. While others have criticized his remarks but stopped short of calling him a racist, I’ll state it bluntly: LePage has amply proved that he is a racist.

Janet Lynch


Trump unfit to govern

Having witnessed President Donald Trump’s latest outrage while answering questions on Tuesday afternoon, it is clear that this man is unfit to hold the office of the president of the United States.

Former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke thanked him for saying both the white supremacists and counterprotesters were responsible for last weekend’s violence in Virginia. Trump is inspiring the renewal of the Civil War. It appears he wants civil war.

He is — for this and for so many other reasons — unfit for the office. I urge Sen. Susan Collins to channel Margaret Chase Smith. Stand up and say “No” to this man and remove him from office. Only the Republicans can do it in a timely manner. I hope Collins leads the way for the good of our country.

Sofia Wilder


Tax carbon

For too long, too many of us have been burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the harmful effects of burning carbon-producing fuels.

A small group of concerned citizens have been working against almost overwhelming odds to light a fire under members of Congress.

The Citizens Climate Lobby is urging Congress to take action to begin to reverse the effects of carbon pollution. The group, with only 7,000 members nationally, have personally lobbied every member of Congress to support a tax on carbon-producing fuels. The money collected would be returned to consumers in the form of a dividend.

To date, there are 48 bipartisan members of the House who are supporting this initiative.

It is way past time to take our heads out of the sand and make an effort to bring about a change. If only 10 percent of the folks reading the newspaper will write to our Maine delegation, then our elected officials will be forced to listen.

If we do not feel that global warming is exacerbated by humans, we surely can agree that burning fossil fuels will not contribute to cleaner air, lakes, rivers and oceans.

Please write and urge our delegation to take action.

Albert Bean