My deepest sympathy to all affected by the shootings in the shopping mall and the Connecticut elementary school. The mental problems that drove these shooters to attack and kill innocent, unknown adults and children is far beyond the grasp of ordinary citizens. The insanity extends further to the alleged plot against child star Justin Bieber by a prison ring and other evil episodes.
Our hearts break as these and other tragedies play out. Lives forever lost. War injuries. A nation stunned again. Prayers drifting upwards through space. A bright spot: For the first time in history, Madera County will have really good mental health care.
Thanks to President Obama and the Democratic Congress for passing the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010, the so called Obamacare plan. With the re-election of President Obama, Obamacare is certain to remain the law-of-the-land and we can be assured of Madera federal health funding for at least four more years. (Will the Republicans try to snatch our health care away in 2016?) Now in Madera there are places for all to access mental health care, and health care is no longer just for the lucky few. Since the health care of others affects us all, we all benefit.
I attended the open house of the Madera Behavioral Health Complex, near the senior center, on Nov. 16. I was highly impressed. The building is very large, well-decorated and provides comprehensive mental health, addiction, and health counseling services. Under the direction of LCWS Janice Melton, the building was completed after many years of struggling to keep mental health care services alive in the county. Under President Bush, mental health funds almost completely dried up and the last clinical employee who covered clinics in both Madera and Chowchilla and worked more for “love of job” than for money, finally had to leave the mental health department. Janice and staff struggled to keep the office doors open, but with no clinical staff or services, things were looking grim. I serve on the county behavioral health board and can attest that those were very bleak years.
The Obama Affordable Health Care Act saved the day by allocating money for mental-health care. Madera recently celebrated the planned construction of a $4.8 million dollar medical and dental center to be located in the Madera “downtown” area and the Madera Behavioral Health Complex celebrated its open house. Both of these fabulous additions to Madera were made possible only because of Obama-cares money.
To Madera, this means health care availability to all. For Madera citizens, it means people with alcohol, drug and mental problems have a place to go for help and hopefully Madera’s high crime and motor vehicle accident rates will decrease. Many kids in Madera suffer with damaged painful teeth which impair learning. Previously, these kids were mostly ignored. Now, they can have their teeth saved and the pain eliminated. The central valley has for many years had a high incidence of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and has largely ignored the HIV crisis. Thank heavens President Obama cares and fought for funding to help us all.
In 2005, I deviated from my medical career because I saw so many without medical care residing in Madera and I set out to find solutions. We hear a lot of verbiage about Obamacare, but now we can see it in action represented by these two great health care additions. In addition, it will bring many high-paying jobs, and an improved tax base. As the MUSD superintendent flees the area, we will attract more educated people as actual residents. Those who have been past victims of crimes or an impaired driver, can get some assurance that the services provided will also mean a better and safer future for us all. For those who need mental health information and help, you now have a resource.
I sincerely wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Special thanks to my supporters. I will be working closely with Supervisor Rick Farrinelli to help make Madera a better place and address your concerns and needs. I am working to help make Madera safe. For District 3, I can be contacted by email at saveourvalley at hotmail.com. Please donate something to the mission and the SPCA. Remember to treat others well. Welcome home vets, we support you. My love to you and all at this special time.
Loraine Goodwin, M.D., J.D., Madera County Democratic Central Committee member, Madera