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Let Illinois legislators patrol our schools

Former CIA Director Army Gen. David Petraeus PaulBroadwell co-author 'All In: The EducatiGeneral David Petraeus.'  |  Phomade available

Former CIA Director and Army Gen. David Petraeus and Paula Broadwell, co-author of "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus." | Photo made available on the International Assistance Force's Flickr site.

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Updated: January 21, 2013 3:49PM

Our Illinois legislators should all be armed and patrolling schools within their districts when the Legislature is not in session.

These dedicated public servants work part time while receiving generous salary and pension benefits from the taxpayers. This is an opportunity for them to do some volunteer work that would protect our children and put them in daily contact with their constituents. It also would get them off the additional government payrolls that many of them now occupy.

Mark S. Renz, Oak Lawn

Don’t rush in new laws

Never make really important and long-lasting decisions in the heat of the moment. Unfortunately, Americans did this when they passed the Patriot Act after 9/11. This greatly expanded the federal government’s powers to lengths most people don’t realize.

It gave the government power to invade our privacy without much justification. Would we know about David Petraeus’ non-criminal extramarital affair without the Patriot Act? Doubtful. We must also use caution attacking one of our inalienable rights in the heat of the moment following the horrible massacre in Connecticut.

Tom O’Brien, Dearborn Park

Allow guns in court

I am very conflicted about recent judicial rulings allowing everyone to carry guns, except in courtrooms. What are all of these judges afraid of? If someone gets out of line, they can just pull out a gun from their black robes and shoot them.

Melanie Wojtulewicz, West Lawn

A time to overreact

To those screeching, “Don’t overreact! Don’t overreact!” I reply, weeping, “How can I not! How can I not!”

Barb Tomko, Ravenswood

Mental health care needed

The entire country has been shocked by the Connecticut school shooting last week, and while mourning the victims, also feeling a sense of urgency to understand how this tragedy could have been prevented. With so many details yet to emerge, it is impossible to know whether the proper mental health treatment could have helped Adam Lanza, but there is no question that this terrible event will lead to many conversations about the state of mental health care in this country.

After all, there may or may not have been mental health signs that should have triggered intervention in this case, but if there were — and they were ignored — we could never forgive ourselves.

It is exactly for reasons such as these that many community hospitals like Saint Anthony remain committed to offering critical mental health care, even as others are shutting their doors to these patients. Why would they possibly do that? In the case of the State of Illinois and Gov. Pat Quinn’s office, it’s a budget issue. These patients cost more and the budget is in crisis, so the state shut down its facilities that serve this population, increasing traffic to hospitals such as ours. And the scary truth is many of these remaining hospitals are considering a similar decision due to readmissions penalties.

On the surface, the readmissions penalty makes sense: It penalizes hospitals that release patients who are then readmitted for the same issue at theirs or another hospital. This should encourage hospitals to implement new practices to reduce such cases. But the devil is in the details — consider that mental health patients have a higher readmissions rate than the average patient, so hospitals that serve a higher mix of patients with mental health and psychological needs face higher penalties. Now, you can understand why the base of services to these patients is shrinking.

If you, like me, are struggling to find a way to take action based on the Connecticut tragedy when there is so much that is out of your control, one thing you can do is support your local mental health providers and fight back against unfair policies that penalize them — and require them to release patients back on the street who need further care for their own safety and that of others. Contact your local elected officials and tell them now is not the time to turn our backs on patients in need.

Guy A. Medaglia,

president and chief executive officer,

St. Anthony Hospital

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