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Letter: Mental health services deficient for years

Published on January 22, 2018 5:43PM


The East Oregonian headline read “GOBHI: Lifeways crisis services below standards.” Lifeways: Police chief frustrated with a lack of mental health services in the county. Was this headline June 2006 or maybe June 2015? Nope, it was January 2018. This lack of mental health services is unacceptable and has been ongoing for years. Now GOBHI says an outside professional consultant may be hired to oversee the Lifeways program. I thought Lifeways was the professional help. Why not ask the police to suggest changes?

Umatilla County police and law enforcement officers support a letter signed by all police chiefs and the sheriff stating their continued frustration with the lack mental health services.

This lack of vision by our local political leadership and ignoring requests from law enforcement reminds me of a story shared in an entrepreneurs course at Harvard. The story involved a Mexican gentleman named Pedro along with Al, a border security guy. Pedro would cross the border into the United States with a wheelbarrow filled with sand. Later in the day Pedro would walk back into Mexico just on his own. Intrigued, Al stated searching the sand, trying to work out what Pedro was smuggling. He’d go through it, dump it, do everything he could with that sand but he never found anything in it. Years later, when they’d both retired, Al was in a bar and Pedro walked in. And Al said to Pedro, “You know, you had me stumped. I never quite figured it out. You must have been smuggling something but I just couldn’t work out what it was.” Pedro said, “Yes I was.” Al, dying with impatience here, said, “So, what was it?” Pedro says, “Wheelbarrows.”

Our local political leadership will never see the wheelbarrow because all they can see is the sand.

Sally Sundin

Walla Walla



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