Monday, June 17, 2024

It’s a Nuanced Issue

This letter is in response to the recent article by Mr. Williams regarding the tragic murder that took place at the Ashley Inn.

As person who knows a similar loss I offer my deepest and most heartfelt sympathy to all those affected by this tragedy. As a person who has spent their professional life in social work and mental health I hear both sides of the concerns being expressed.

I believe there is room to be a community that operates from mindfulness, logic, compromise and compassion. A concern that I have regarding Lincoln County’s approach to address the houseless crisis is as follows:
Lincoln County being a rural county lacks the resources and infrastructure needed to adequately, ethically and justly serve our most vulnerable populations.

We struggle to have adequate housing for our community members which is a huge issue for attracting the specialized professionals needed to serve those in need.

We see this in our current special education system. We don’t have the professionals needed to provide services to our children and adults with special needs. We don’t have robust and cutting edge education programs or specialized services.

We see similar concerns in our medical services. We do not have the number of medical professionals needed to serve our county. SHS is forced into a position to hire agency nurses (at an extremely expensive rate), borrowing doctors and specialists from the valley to serve our community a few days a month in hopes it will be good enough.

Lincoln County has an aging population. We have minimal supports in place for people to age in place. The rates of dementia related illnesses is in the rise and we have limited supports for such individuals and their family. Many times families having to make the painful decision to have their loved one leave their life long community for the valley. Again, where is the investment in such infrastructure for our community?

We don’t have reasonably priced housing for working professionals to choose to stay and invest in building and strengthening our community by becoming permanent residents.

We have minimal resources to support those needing quality addiction related services. People are shipped to the valley and those resources are often at capacity as well.

We may have some shelter options for those who are houseless yet we lack the specialized professionals needed to properly support such individuals. Without such wrap around supports and infrastructures we are simply engaging in a band aid approach.

We don’t have the infrastructure needed in law enforcement either. People who are struggling with mental illness, addictions and traumas require specialized approaches when dealing with law enforcement. Where is the support law enforcement needs? Where are their supports of specialized crisis staff to support them when encountering such individuals? The Emergency Room is no answer, it’s at capacity and is not the place for mental health services. One or two on call crisis workers serving the entirety of the county is not realistic.

A more robust system would need to be in place to adequately, ethically and compassionately serve our entire community especially those with significant needs and disabilities. It feels reckless that the county officials would authorize the building of more shelters at this time without first properly investing in the infrastructure needed to properly support those in need.

The senseless assault and murder that recently occurred is horrific on many levels. It is horrific that a man lost his life so tragically and far to young, that his family has lost such a vital member. It is tragic that a man who has been identified as mentally ill was not in a place/situation in which he was being properly treated for his illness and being kept safe himself. It seems to me that this tragic murder has given us all space to pause, to hold those we love dear close to our hearts and to ask ourselves as a community, “what type of community do we want to be?”

We have the power of our voices and our votes. Let us take a beat, breathe and speak mindfully about the change we want to see in our community, our county.

Thank you,

Heather Chandler

LCH Reader
LCH Reader
The views and opinions expressed in letters to the editor are not necessarily those of Lincoln City Homepage.

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