Old Guard

A dilemma of epidemic proportions: I was moved by your story on nursing homes. It is about time someone wrote an article about this despicable problem ("Hope I Die Before I Get Old," Bruce Rushton, December 2)!

I am a provider in this area, and I am in and out of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, group homes and private homes every day ministering mental-health services to those patients whom the state labels behavior problems because facilities do not want to take care of people properly.

What you wrote about is a dilemma that appears to have epidemic proportions, and one that no one cares about. I am originally from the Chicago area, and I have been in the medical/mental-health field since 1975. I never before saw the horrific things that I have seen in the state of Arizona.

I am very interested and passionate about the care that people young and old get in these facilities, which take enormous amounts of money from patients and their families and give them nothing for it.
Linda M. Comin, RN, clinical psychologist

The real picture: I just want to say thank you for seeing the real picture on long-term care today. So many articles about nursing-home abuse are centered on nursing assistants, as if they are solely responsible for the abuse of the elderly found today.

I believe that a long-term-care facility with the track records of the ones profiled should be stripped from their owners and turned over to the state. This goes for corporate and privately owned facilities, too. Furthermore, said owners should not be allowed to own or administer any other such facility in the state.

This sounds rash and expensive, but long-term care can be a good, lucrative business if kept in context. I'm saying, if the facilities are small and have well-chosen and well-trained staffs, they can be good places for senior citizens. And, of course, a good facility cannot take residents above the level of care it is capable of handling. And the facility must pay staffers a living wage.

As for the state failing to report nursing-home violations . . . who is the state protecting? I would question any official's motive for not reporting, fining or closing any facility with the track records profiled in this story. I believe this problem needs fixing in a hurry! As it stands right now, it's just Arizona's dirty little secret.
Jacqueline Nelson, via the Internet

Mother's little helper: My mother never reads long articles in any paper, but as fate would have it, a copy of New Times was in a waiting room we were in. All of a sudden, I saw her crying after reading "Hope I Die Before I Get Old." She was so moved that she took the copy home with her and proceeded to call her friends and read it to them.

This got me thinking. Since Sun City is supposedly a city of volunteers, instead of volunteering to hand out cookies at church bake sales, residents should help make sure seniors are attended to properly. This should be a priority on everyone's list, especially since Christmas is here.

If anyone had any ideas about how we could spread love and care to these institutions by just going and lending a hand, perhaps something could be done immediately for people like the ones mentioned in your story. I certainly appreciate New Times' efforts to expose such atrocities, but we need to do something immediately besides shake our heads and tsk tsk.

Even Sheriff Joe Arpaio treats inmates better than this!
Sharon Harrison, Sun City

Az you wish: I read with great concern your article on skilled nursing care in Arizona. In it, you failed to mention AzAHA, the Arizona Association of Homes and Housing for the Aging, as a possible resource. AzAHA is a group of nonprofit providers joined together to work toward the common good of seniors in Arizona.

Consumers looking for quality nursing care for their loved ones may want to go to the AzAHA Web site (www.azaha.org) to find a list of members. AzAHA members are currently working on a "Quality First" campaign, which could identify those organizations committed to providing quality care to seniors.

While there may be providers who are not giving good care, I can assure your readers there are a number of providers in Arizona who have a passion for caring for the elderly and are committed to providing quality health-care services.
Kathy Loscheider, administrator, Christian Care Nursing Center, Phoenix

Gay Writes

Player hater: Your comments [about A Queer Carol and other plays produced by Alternative Theatre Company] in "Homo for the Holidays" seem unfair -- even though I know you have every right to voice your opinion (Stage Frights, Robrt L. Pela, December 2).

We produced The Player, and it was a show that promoted safe sex, commitment and love. I commissioned Joe Amico, a leading sex therapist for the gay community, to read and review every part of the script. He even talked before each show about sexual addiction and praised our theater for approaching the subject.

With the infection of HIV on the rise again among younger gay men, the play had a strong voice on that subject. Joe said many of his new clients are gay men who were in the audience. The nudity in The Player was not at all gratuitous. But then again, why should I try to explain this to you? It would be pointless.

Did you forget that we produced Jeffrey, and you liked it? Also Lummox Texas and Dirty Secrets. As far as having a positive "gay" role model, our Benny and the Jetts had great loving couples with the main focus on monogamy and commitment. It's All About Sex was about love and relationships.

We also produced Bent. Oh, you didn't see that. It's sad that the only article you choose to write about us appears as "Homo for the Holidays."

Do me a favor and try an enema.
Joe Marshall, Phoenix

Acceptance speech: Congratulations on hiring a psychic entertainment reporter capable of divining an entire production without benefit of seeing a single performance. I wonder if Robrt L. Pela could outline the plot of the next Star Wars film by simply glancing at the title.

Since his review appeared before opening night, Mr. Pela must have felt the synopsis of A Queer Carol enough to downplay the production by the Alternative Theatre Company. Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a story of hope and redemption. It is a theme replayed in many holiday tales, from It's a Wonderful Life to How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Unfortunately, Mr. Pela also appears to be an assimilationist, demanding that homosexuals everywhere eschew the expression of their lives and loves, assume upright (up-Reich?) careers, and march lockstep into heterosexual acceptance, all the while forgetting that it is because we express ourselves differently that acceptance is required.

Denying homosexuals the freedom to live as we want with no apologies, Mr. Pela casts as traitors any drag queen, designer, leather guy or gay person who happens to match a gay stereotype. He denounces the badges of courage these people deserve for living life unafraid. Internalized homophobia? Mr. Pela's Freudian slip is showing.
Douglas Loynd, Phoenix

What's demeaning of this?: Robrt Pela, you should be ashamed of yourself. Your scathing review of A Queer Carol is a disgrace. How can you be so negative about the Alternative Theatre Company? Director Joe Marshall has worked for years to try to erase homophobia and to lift the consciousness of those who do not understand that homosexuality is inherent in more than 10 percent of our population.

Joe Marshall is able to present positive messages in a humorous way, and he should be commended for his talent and contributions to the Alternative Theatre Company. Perhaps your writing so pompously puffs you up, but it is so demeaning to the gay and lesbian community.
Joan Jewett, via the Internet

Elder hostile: I just wanted to say that it was mostly the bitchy drag queens who had "the balls" to stand up for gay people everywhere on that infamous day at the Stonewall Inn. You should respect your elders, honey! Every voice matters!

I find it truly offensive that you would simply perpetuate hate by preaching assimilation instead of embracing the many colorful creatures who make up the gay community -- some of whom just happen to fit into those "queer stereotypes."

I have had to fight my whole life to simply be who I am, and I will not be shoved back into the closet because you think that more flamboyant folks should try to appear "normal" in order to gain acceptance from a bunch of right-wing bigots. Did you vote for George W. Bush, too, Miss Pela?

Thanks for the support -- you're about as much fun as an under-wire bra!
The Bitchy Drag Queen known as the Ghost of Christmas Present
P.S. I've got a magic potion for you, one that will make you see what an uptight, oppressive gringa with a pinga you are. As a matter of fact, you should have auditioned for the play. You would have made the perfect Scrooge!

A Dog's Life

Myth management: Your article about euthanizing animals was right on point ("Bottle Racket," Sarah Fenske, December 9). The fostering program was derailed for no good reason by a few disconnected bureaucrats. I was unaware until this that myth and urban legend play a part in what are supposed to be intelligent, fact-based decisions regarding animal control in this county.

Recently, I have been to animal control for one reason or another, and I've always been impressed at how clean the facilities are. I was also impressed by the professional demeanor of the people I dealt with. Now, I wonder about the upper management.

This issue of their not fostering unweaned puppies and instead euthanizing them is as preposterous as hell! Although I sadly realize that euthanasia is a necessary part of the animal-control business, I strongly urge that if it is done, it should be for a valid reason and not because of myth and innuendo. It certainly appears that animal-control management is not on the same planet as the rest of us.
J.E. Barbee, Glendale

Stop the madness: It has to stop! I can't bear to think about those little puppies never getting a chance to live.
Cindy Kokinda, Phoenix


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