The Arizona Legislature expanded the criteria for the state’s Silver Alert public notification system to include those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. Municipal police departments are able to request a Silver Alert from the Arizona Department of Public Safety after they’ve exhausted all available resources.
By NCDJ board member Amy Silverman, for ProPublica/Arizona Daily Star
Advocates for people with intellectual disabilities are concerned that people with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism and other such conditions will be denied access to lifesaving medical treatment as the COVID-19 outbreak spreads across the country.
As Silverman reports, several disability advocacy organizations filed complaints this week with the civil rights division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, asking the federal government to clarify provisions of the disaster preparedness plans for the states of Washington and Alabama.
Some state plans — including Alabama’s — make clear that people with cognitive issues are a lower priority for lifesaving treatment. Alabama’s plan reads that “persons with severe mental retardation, advanced dementia or severe traumatic brain injury may be poor candidates for ventilator support.”
State Rep. Jennifer Longdon, D-Phoenix, was one of eight legislators, advocates and medical professionals who shared sobering stories about the costs of gun violence at a congressional hearing last week in an effort to urge members of the House Ways and Means committee to take legislative action on gun control.
Longdon is paralyzed from the chest down, and her ex-fiancé lives with brain trauma and blindness, after they were struck by five stray bullets as bystanders during a 2004 shooting.
Click here to continue reading Megan U. Boyanton’s story on Cronkite News / Arizona PBS about Longdon’s participation in the hearing, which took place as Democrats press for action on gun-control bills in the wake of mass shootings that took dozens of lives in August.
In response to the recent mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) has released a guide to help journalists “accurately and inclusively cover mass shootings.”
A full section of the NAHJ guide is dedicated to helping journalists cover gun violence without stigmatizing mental illness, or implying that a shooter’s mental illness caused or contributed to the violence. Among other recommendations, the NAHJ guide tells journalists that it is “inexcusable to mention the mental health issues the alleged killer might have been dealing with in an attempt to dismantle the reasoning behind this crime against humanity.” Additionally, the guide acknowledges that traumatic stories like the shooting in El Paso can be painful to cover and reminds reporters that it is always okay to reach out for help.
Click here to access How to Accurately and Inclusively Cover Mass Shootings on the NAHJ website.
E.P.A. Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems
By Lisa Friedman
Originally published in the July 18, 2019 edition of the New York Times
In a New York Times article published this week, Lisa Friedman reports that the Trump administration took a major step to weaken the regulation of toxic chemicals on Thursday when the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) announced that it will not ban chlorpyrifos, a pesticide linked to developmental delays in children. It has also been linked to lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease in adults.
The decision, which was made by E.P.A. administrator Andrew R. Wheeler, represents a win for the chemical industry and for farmers who have lobbied to continue using the toxic chemical despite its potential to cause serious harm.
Although the Obama administration announced in 2015 that it would ban chlorpyrifos after scientific studies produced by the E.P.A. showed the pesticide had the potential to damage brain development in children, the prohibition had not yet been carried out when, in 2017, then-E.P.A. administrator Scott Pruitt reversed Obama’s decision and provoked a wave of lawsuits.
What accounts for the sharp increase in the number of officer-involved shootings in Phoenix last year? A lack of mental health resources, according to a report released by the National Police Foundation on Friday. The report, which was commissioned by the city of Phoenix as a response to last year’s spike in incidences of officer-involved shootings, points to a number of underlying causes for the uptick. That police officers are fielding a growing number of 911 calls involving people with mental health issues is one of them.
Phoenix police officers who were interviewed for the study said they felt unprepared to respond to these kind of situations. Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams added that law enforcement officers shouldn’t be the first (or only) line of help available to people who are experiencing a mental health crisis and that many of the calls her department receives could be rerouted to alternative resources.
While the recent crisis at Hacienda HealthCare continues to draw attention to problems within Arizona’s current system of monitoring and reporting sexual abuse of people with disabilities, almost no formal policies designed to recognize and prevent such abuse exist. The Council’s report is called “Sexual Abuse of Arizonans with Developmental and Other Disabilities” and it contains specific actions that state agencies and care providers can take to prevent the sexual abuse of vulnerable adults.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement condemning the imprecise language recently used by public figures to discuss the connection between mental health and mass shootings. President Trump and Dana Loesch, a spokesperson for the National Rifle Association, used words including “sicko,” “nuts” and “crazy person” to describe the diagnoses of mass shooter Nikolas Cruz. The NAMI statement criticizes such comments as reinforcing “inaccurate and negative stereotypes” that “create barriers to having real conversations about how to improve the mental health services that lead to recovery and participation in American society by people experiencing mental health conditions.” CNN.com interviewed several mental health experts who also suggested that mental illness is not a reliable condition for predicting violent behavior.Click here to read NAMI’s statement and click here to read CNN’s article.
Officials in Hollywood, Florida have opened multiple criminal investigations into the deaths of 8 nursing home residents who died Wednesday morning from heat exhaustion during an ongoing power outage caused by Hurricane Irma. The New York Times is reporting that “More than three million customers in Florida still lacked power Wednesday, including roughly 160 nursing homes, according to the state’s tracking system.” Hollywood local paper The Sun-Sentinel is reporting 115 other senior residents at the home were evacuated from the overheated facility, but their relatives remain confused about their health status.