Spinal Cord Injury Research Program (SCIRP) Act of 1998 is,
as Elizabeth Knapp’s recent story relates, the achievement
of former New York state trooper Paul Richter. [“Insult to
Injury,” Newsfront, Jan. 28) It was also the crowning career
achievement of former Assemblyman Edward Griffith.
For nearly 30 years, Griffith represented the people of the
40th Assembly District, the East New York section of Brooklyn.
East New York was so plagued by drugs, poverty and gun violence
that it was known as “the murder capital of New York City.”
As a consequence of the crack epidemic of the closing decades
of the 20th century, it has had way more than its share of
innocent victims paralyzed by gunshot wounds.
Paul Richter sustained a spinal cord injury when he was shot
by a man he had pulled over outside of Lake Placid who had
just stolen a trunkload of handguns from a sporting goods
store. Had Paul not stopped him, those guns would have ended
up on the streets in criminal hands. What happened to him
should remind us of the terrible cost of controlling commerce
in illegal guns.
I had the good fortune of bringing Richter and Griffith together
in the spring of 1998 when Griffith agreed to sponsor Richter’s
bill. There was something compelling about this partnership
between the state trooper who was gunned down on a country
road in the Adirondacks and the politician who represented
an inner city neighborhood where criminal gun violence was
almost a daily occurrence. For both of them, and for all the
people who will benefit in years to come as a result of the
research program they created, this was a truly great achievement.
I can only hope that Assemblyman Griffith’s colleagues in
the Legislature, of which Governor David Paterson was one,
will not allow his achievement to be undone in this year’s
The Constantine Institute
Chet Hardin’s article on Michael Breslin’s vision for long
term care in Albany County [Mr. Breslin’s Vision, Jan. 28]
had some valid points about the benefits of home care,
but does not take into consideration patients with Alzheimer’s.
My father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 59. My mother
was his primary caregiver, with some help from my husband
and myself. For eight years he was not a candidate for a home
health aide, assisted living, or a nursing home. Then, all
of a sudden, although he functioned perfectly well at choir
practice that one day, he could not remember how to sit in
a chair, or use the toilet.
My mother was already having my father evaluated for assisted
living, nursing home or home care. Now, “suddenly,” some home
care agencies felt that my father had gone beyond their scope
of practice. We looked at assisted living facilities with
dementia units. We were told that they were based on a “social
model” not a “medical model.” This translated to he didn’t
qualify because he had a breathing machine to help with his
sleep apnea and he couldn’t manage it himself. How is it possible
to consider assisted living facilities a viable option for
individuals with Alzheimer’s, if they are conditional on these
individuals’ ability to operate complex medical equipment?
Now these criteria left us with a nursing home as the only
option. My parents had long term care insurance and were thus
able to consider private nursing homes. Unfortunately,
none had room. No nursing home had room for my father
and home care wouldn’t serve him! How would Mr. Breslin address
this problem? He discusses private nursing homes picking up
the slack met by a closed county facility, but is this realistic?
In just a few months, my father had gone from “safe at home”
to unable to do anything for himself. In his case it happened
with astonishing speed.
Finally, on the day my mother had spent hours trying to get
my father into the car to go to their support group meeting,
the facilitator at the support group realized he “didn’t look
right” and called an ambulance. Doctors at the hospital were
dismissive and indicated my mother was wrong to bring in a
“patient not in need of emergency care” until he had to go
to the bathroom and it took a team of trained professionals
to get him there. And then they were astounded that my mother
had been caring for him by herself. Magically, he was immediately
installed at the hospital for a couple of weeks until a bed
opened at Daughters of Sarah. He died after a couple of weeks
I did not read anything in this article that addressed how
individuals with Alzheimer’s would be better served by having
one less nursing home to turn to.
St. Amour Glass
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