Dear Clients and Friends:
To say that I am still in shock from yesterday’s events is an understatement.
While my boys do not attend Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Florida, it is a school that I pass regularly in the neighborhood and a place where friends and family do send their children.
But whether it is next door or across the country, this is already the 18th gun-related incident at or near a school this year, which includes suicides.
A young man, interviewed by local news on the scene, said what was on my mind: “While this is devastating and traumatic, I am also sad for the shooter, who clearly was in emotional pain to the point where he felt he needed to do this.”
Today, our government offers “prayers and wishes” to the families of those killed or injured. In the background, our leaders are seeking to slash the public health budgets of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
This comes on the heels of the end a the national registry designed to provide information to the public about evidence-based mental health and substance use interventions and programs, known as the “National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices: (NREPP), which was funded and administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and has existed since 1997 to help people, agencies and organizations identify and implement evidence-based behavioral health programs and practices in their communities.
Before yesterday’s tragedy, I was engaging in one of my favorite exercises – drafting my annual “State of the Union” letter (so to speak) about how far we have come together in ridding our great State of Florida and the nation itself of the scourge of those who place profit ahead of patient care. That letter is attached.
In other medical modalities, emotionally connecting with the patient (a doctor’s “bedside manner”) appears to be no longer necessary. We dispense medications. We perform procedures. They don’t have to care about the patient anymore. They will soon will be replaced by Artificial Intelligence.
But in mental health care, behavioral health care, and addiction treatment and housing services, it is essential that there is a direct connection between provider and patient. That connectivity is what allows those suffering with these afflictions to begin their recovery.
A doctor performs surgery and moves on.
Your relationship with your patients last a lifetime, as a lifeline.
In the background, there is the need to actually run a business to provide these services and we are very cognizant that the overhead costs of providing those services continue to rise.
Taking this into consideration, we have not raised our fees for services in 8 years, knowing that our clients were being attacked on all fronts – NIMBY local government zoning decisions; inconsistent and inequitable state regulation; arbitrary and blatant illegal actions by insurance carriers; and people I can only describe as “bottom barrel slime dwellers” who prey on your patients as commodities to bought, sold and traded. Some wear street clothes, others wear suits.
We want you all to know and feel that we support you and want to see you rebuild what was once a thriving and grand “Recovery Community” here in South Florida, so that we can replicate that success across our country, to include mental health services.
We are only now beginning the next chapter of where and how these services will be delivered to the public. We want to be there, at your side, as you do so.
Thank you for support as a client, a colleague and as friends, and for allowing us to serve you with integrity.