As a Wai'anae Coast resident and legislator, I must respond to The Advertiser's June 19 editorial, "State justified in canceling mental-health contracts."
I dispute your conclusion, but concur that "Caught in the middle are about 400 of Hale Na'au Pono's clients, who face potentially disruptive and wrenching changes as they switch to other providers."
Mental health consumers — not Hale Na'au Pono or the Department of Health — should be our main concern.
Media discussion has focused on contractual disputes between a private agency and a state department. The issue is not who is right or wrong. It is that consumers must receive the services they need, no matter who provides them.
Hale Na'au Pono has provided culturally sensitive, nationally recognized services for more than 20 years — something the health department has been unable to provide alone. My Wai'anae household's members — my sister as an educator, my mother as a nurse practitioner, and myself as a legal services attorney — have been more effective in helping many clients by collaborating with Hale Na'au Pono.
Your editorial rightly stresses the negative impact on consumers as the health department switches to other providers. Despite claims that it has staff and facilities to replace Hale Na'au Pono, the evidence is not there.
With no clear transition plan, the health department's small, new facility in Makaha, with skeleton staff and part-time hours, is no replacement for Hale Na'au Pono's full staff and adequate facilities.
The only sensible solution is to extend existing contracts until a viable alternative is found.Rep. Maile Shimabukuro
District 45 (Wai'anae, Makaha)
Rep. Maile Shimabukuro's letter concerning Hale Na'au Pono on the Waianae Coast losing DOH funding for their contract to serve 400 mental health consumers.
First, let me congratulate the Representative and her husband for the birth of their first born son. I think it's indicative of the the Representative's committment to the mental health needs of her community by using her one letter for the month devoted to this urgent topic.
Second, I wish that Rep. Shimabukuro will continue to serve the Leeward Coast for another term. Her devotion to the Native Hawaiian culture and needs is remarkable. I know she and her family will be making sacrifices for the next two years to make this happen, and I hope the Legislature can help the Governor and the DOH restore the needed service contracts which should be in place until a suitable mental health care and follow-up for the 400 patients is in place.
Arvid Youngquist, former secretary
United Self Help, Inc.
07/16/2008 12:12:41 p.m.