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Letters to the Editor

We must help our wounded warriors: Letter to the Editor

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Illinois is lucky to have some of the finest medical experts and dedicated staff who work every day to make certain that service members and veterans are receiving the best medical care our nation has to offer.

But after more than ten years of war, the skill set required to provide state-of-the-art care has become increasingly complex – particularly in the fields of prosthetics and orthotics, where demand is at an all-time high.

Each year, the Department of Veterans Affairs serves approximately 40,000 individuals with limb loss due to combat-related injuries or chronic illness.  Advances in medical technology have greatly increased the survival rate for even the most grievously wounded service members, but many of those survivors still lose limbs due to their injuries.

Over 1,700 individuals have suffered combat-related limb loss in Iraq and Afghanistan. Remarkably, there are at least 160 service members who have had a complete loss of an arm, leg, hand or foot who have remained on active duty

While prosthetic and orthotic technology has progressed by leaps and bounds in recent years, our ability to use that technology for the most effective care possible has not kept pace.

There are just over 7,100 practitioners specially trained in prosthetics and orthotics nationwide. Of those, one in five are either past retirement age or eligible to retire in the next 5 years. In 20 years’ time, almost half the field will retire – a projected 3,000 practitioners.

We need to act now.  Last week, I introduced two pieces of legislation that would enhance research in best practices and support colleges and universities seeking to establish degree programs to train specialists.

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The first, the Wounded Warrior Workforce Enhancement Act of 2013, would authorize a competitive grant program to help colleges and universities develop master’s degree programs focusing on orthotics and prosthetics.

There are only a dozen schools around the country with master’s degree programs in this field. My legislation would help these schools expand and encourage other schools to upgrade their existing bachelor’s degree program to a master’s degree program.

The bill also requires the establishment of a Center of Excellence in Prosthetic and Orthotic Education to help schools integrate the latest science and techniques into their classrooms.

The second bill, the Wounded Warrior Research Enhancement Act of 2013, would establish the first centralized collection of outcomes-based research on orthotics and prosthetics.

Currently many practitioners rely on personal experience and trial-and-error methods, rather than empirical data, to determine which prosthetic device will work best for a given patient. With a large portion of these seasoned clinicians facing retirement in the coming decade, it is imperative that we harness this tremendous resource of institutional knowledge before we lose it forever.

My legislation would create a system of “best practices” to give caregivers the knowledge they need to better match prosthetic and orthotic devices with individual patients, saving time and money by improving the likelihood that a veteran’s first prosthetic will also be the best. Many medical fields do this, but not prosthetics and orthotics.

Small investments like this will go far to ensure that this field will be healthy for many years to come, and ultimately make sure we honor our promise to America’s wounded warriors.

In an era of tight budgets and Washington looking at ways to spend dollars wisely, improving the lives of our injured service members and veterans is a smart investment. We owe it to them.

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Dick Durbin
Senior U.S. Senator for Illinois

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Domestic violence is prevalent in Macoupin County

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Dear Editor,

Domestic Violence within Macoupin County is prevalent. It is destructive and can be both physical and psychological. It can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It may include behaviors meant to scare, physically harm, or control a partner. While every relationship is different – domestic violence generally involves an unequal power dynamic in which one partner tries to assert control over the other in a variety of ways. The following statistics are all according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

We can see domestic violence inside the home: through the use and control of household pets. In one study, 85% of survivors who experienced co-occurring animal abuse reported that the behavior of their pets had changed. An even higher percentage of survivors who reported partners had harmed or killed their pet, have also reported their partner for domestic violence. We can also see an increase usage of firearms within the intimate partner violence home. A survey of contacts by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found (of those with access to firearms):  

  • 10% said their abusers had fired a gun during an argument.  
  • 67% believed their abusers were capable of killing them. 

We can see domestic violence inside our schools: as partner violence is not exclusive to the home. There are many instances of violence between dating partners that begin in high school. Nearly 1.5 million high school students in the United States are physically abused by dating partners every year. Within those relationships, 13.4% of male high school students report being physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.  

We can see domestic violence inside our community: Macoupin County provides a specific set of needs for those victims and survivors of domestic violence. There are several complex concerns within a violent relationship that come to light once action has been taken. Safe Families sees a few main re-occurring concerns within the county:  

  • Survivors have fewer financial resources, making them more financially dependent on an abusive partner.  
  • The lack of rental units or other affordable housing options makes it more difficult for survivors to leave spouses or co-habiting abusers.  

The Macoupin County Safe Families program provides support for residents as they journey the emotional endeavors to leave behind domestic violence. As a contributor to that experience, we will be hosting a Domestic Violence Awareness Walk on October 7th on the Carlinville Square. An event shirt will be included with a ticket sale. The online tickets will close 09/29 at 5pm. Tickets will be sold at 9am day-of event at the Safe Families booth. More information about the Awareness Walk can be found on our website at mcphd@mcphd.net. We urge Macoupin County residents to join us and rally against domestic violence together.  

Juliet Wooldridge and Lilly Booth

Domestic Violence Advocate Coordinators
Community Health Worker
Macoupin County Safe Families

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: National Health Center Week is week of August 6

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Dear Editor,

Community Health Centers are the backbone of our nation’s primary health care system. We design innovative, integrated primary care based on what services communities need most — ensuring access to affordable, quality healthcare for over 30 million people. In addition to creating jobs and saving lives, collectively we save American taxpayers $24 billion a year in health care costs by preventing and managing chronic diseases.

Community Health Centers are not ordinary medical clinics; we are also problem-solvers who reach beyond the exam room to care for the whole person by providing access to necessities like food, transportation, and housing. Community Health Centers care for everyone, regardless of insurance status. Nationwide during hurricanes, floods, and fires, and locally during the pandemic, Community Health Centers are first on the scene and are vital to keeping America healthy.

The 2023 theme of National Health Center Week is ‘The Roadmap to a Stronger America.’ Community Health Centers serve as the beacon of strength, service, and care in their communities. In moments of pain and loss, we offer support and love. In moments of triumph, we offer hope and a vision for the future. This year’s National Health Center Week theme takes us on a virtual road trip across America, highlighting the achievements and amazing work being done at Community Health Centers in every state and territory. Celebrate the uniqueness of our community and get to know others as we journey across the U.S. together!

Each day of National Health Center Week is dedicated to a particular focus area. We will be working with community partners to recognize and celebrate each of the following focus groups in our community.

As part of National Health Center Week 2023, we invite you to support Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc. to celebrate our mission and accomplishments.

Christy Blank
CEO/Public Health Administrator
Macoupin Community Health Centers, Inc.
Macoupin County Public Health Department

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Letters to the Editor

Letter: Drobney family thanks the community

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To the great people of Macoupin County.

Although several months have past, the family of Bridget Drobney would like to extend their deepest gratitude for the overwhelming love and support that we received during the recent attempt to secure the release of one of Bridget’s rapist/murderers. We are truly grateful for the numerous letters that were written and sent to the Governor of our state, the Illinois Prison Review Board, and the personal outreach to our family; all of which demonstrated your unwavering love and support. Your efforts were instrumental in persuading the Governor and members of the Prison Review Board to deny clemency for Bridget’s murderer.

While it remains a possibility for the individuals involved in Bridget’s kidnapping, rape and murder to annually petition for clemency, The Drobney family takes solace in knowing that the exceptional people of Macoupin County will steadfastly oppose any such requests and stand ready to fight should the matter of clemency arise again. We are particularly grateful to retired Macoupin County State’s Attorney, Vincent Moreth, as well as the current members of the Macoupin County State’s Attorney’s Office, under the leadership of State Attorney, Jordan Garrison. Their unwavering dedication and support was evident as they traveled to Chicago to represent Bridget and the Drobney family during the clemency hearing.

Once again, we express our sincerest appreciation for your profound support and unwavering commitment to justice. Your solidarity has been a source of strength for us during these difficult years. We will keep you in our prayers and will be forever grateful to the people of Macoupin County.

Sincerely,
The Drobney Family

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