Letters to the Editor
More Reasons to Keep Agnews
Your heart-breaking story about the death of a former client and resident of Agnews Developmental Center definitely illustrated a primary concern for those of us who still have children residing there—and who are facing the horror of uncertainty caused by the pending closure—but it is not the only reason we are still fighting the closure.
My son Johnny is 29 years old; he has lived at Agnews for 20 years. He is retarded and medically fragile—but he is bright and loving and happy and active and very ambulatory. In his short life, he has had over a dozen serious surgeries. He has struggled with multiple life-threatening illnesses and end-stage renal failure, resulting in dialysis and—happily—a (so far) successful kidney transplant almost two years ago.
My husband and I are 100 percent convinced that Johnny would not be still alive if it were not for the superb care that he has had at Agnews. Additionally, he would not be as high functioning and happy had it not been for the therapy and loving care that he has received.
While that is a major part of the story, it is not all of it. What the so-called "advocates" fail to realize in their zeal to place our children in "our" communities is that children like Johnny are in communities of their own—communities where they are accepted and loved.
Placing Johnny in what they call "the community" is, in reality, placing him in a more restrictive environment. At Agnews, Johnny has lovely living quarters. His bedroom includes an entertainment center and plenty of space for his collection of cat books, stuffed animals, and jigsaw puzzles. He also has peers, companions who accept him for who he is. He doesn't have to deal with people who see him and immediately look away (and don't think he doesn't know it!).
He has a job, he has leisure activities; he goes to church, to the canteen; he shops and spends time with volunteers; he visits the "real" community regularly, going to parks and stores. He has a full life, and he is cared for and protected from danger.
We visit him almost every week, taking him out to lunch and to the park or zoo, and bringing him home to Santa Cruz for special occasions.
Best of all, he has health professionals available all the time. Staff doctors, dentists, and therapists see him whenever necessary, in addition to his medical specialists at Stanford.
To those who insist on closing the "institutions" and placing our children in an alien world, I say you are making a big mistake. If our children were normal, they would be in the real world with us. They are not, and you are depriving them of not just adequate care but of the security and happiness of living in an environment where they are accepted and safe and happy.
Ann L. Bennett, Santa Cruz
This letter pertains to an article written by Vrinda Normand about Sally Lieber ("Spanks for the Memories," Cover Story, March 7).
I am very appalled at what she has written about a certain patient at El Camino Hospital (Mr. James Campbell). As Ms. Normand stated in her article: "So it was serendipity that brought her in contact with the family of James Campbell, a man held hostage in Mountain View's El Camino Hospital with no hope of returning home but for one gutsy assemblymember willing to cut through the bureaucracy."
Next time you write an article, you should get your story straight. Is it correct to say that Mr. Campbell is being held "hostage" at El Camino Hospital? Who in their right mind would do such a thing? Instead of getting the parents' side of the story, did you take the time to ask the hospital administrator and staff who take care of Mr. Campbell themselves about their side of story before writing such an article?
Getting the facts straight is what true journalism is all about!
Name Withheld By Request, Mountain View
eBay on E-waste
I wanted to let you know that eBay is doing something about our toxic trash. I've seen the video you referred to ("Toxic Trash," Cover Story, March 14) and, as the Manager of Data Center Assets (the servers and various other components of ebay.com/paypal), I have set our recycling/disposal policy to include the BAN pledge. We only dispose of our assets with companies who will agree to sign the BAN pledge and we physically inspect each vendor's facility. I would be happy to share more about our program and how it came to be if you can direct me to the right person.
Tim Lee, San Jose
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