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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Issue of the Week: Rescuing the Mental Health Complex

Plus Hero and Jerk of the Week

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The ongoing crisis at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex is still coming to light and the revelations continue to be disturbing. The most recent state inspection found that the facilities endanger patient safety and need serious upgrades, patient records aren’t properly maintained and the food service, now run by the private vendor A’viands, has questionable sanitary conditions. And although Supervisor Lynne De Bruin is being criticized for writing up a disturbing conversation with Behavioral Health Division administrator John Chianelli during a closed-door meeting on the sexual assault of patients, De Bruin, government investigators and patient advocates are just shedding light on problems that have lingered on for too long in the background. Those problems include sexual assault, death, staffing shortages and inadequate treatment plans for patients.

We’re looking forward to seeing how Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker will respond to the growing revelations. He can’t solve them with a promise and a press release. Walker must fix what has been broken on his watch before another vulnerable Milwaukee County resident suffers when placed in the care of the county.

Hero of the Week

Bilal Markis

In August 2009, two vehicles struck Rasheed Markis while he was riding his bicycle on the city’s South Side. In addition to a broken pelvis and crushed lung, Markis suffered the loss of a kidney, his spleen and part of his liver, and lost large amounts of blood in emergency surgery. Incredibly, he survived, earning the apt nickname “Miracle Comeback Kid.”

Inspired by the generosity of strangers who helped to save his son’s life, Bilal Markis wanted to give back to others and raise awareness of the importance of blood donors by organizing the “Miracle Comeback” blood drive. Now in its second year, the drive will take place Friday, June 25, at CORE/El Centro (611 W. National Ave., fourth floor) from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Those interested in taking a few minutes to make a potentially life-saving donation can call Markis at (414) 578-0735, or register online to donate blood at www.bcw.edu/miraclecomeback.

Jerk of the Week

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner

Few would accuse the Obama administration of being too tough on BP after its disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. But among this unenlightened minority is Menomonee Falls Republican Jim Sensenbrenner, a multimillionaire who just happens to own more than 3,000 shares in BP (and those shares just happened to have lost a healthy chunk of value since the spill, shrinking to the paltry sum of roughly $114,000 as of this writing). “How is the president publicly chastising and threatening BP with criminal actions…helping to stop the oil?” Sensenbrenner whined. Worse still, the longtime incumbent has no plans to recuse himself from a congressional investigation into the spill.

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