Key treatment option lacking

To the Journal editor:

A healthy-looking young woman in workout clothes graces a large billboard along Baraga Avenue, near the new Duke LifePoint hospital in Marquette. “Experts in my recovery,” the billboard states. Experts in recovery from a heart attack, a stroke, a car accident? Duke LifePoint would no doubt reply with a resounding “Yes.” Recovery from drug or alcohol addiction? Look elsewhere for help.

Despite the fact that both opioid and alcohol abuse are serious threats to the health, well-being and lives of U.P. residents, DLP decided not to include an inpatient substance abuse unit in its new facility. DLP actually discontinued inpatient treatment services several months ago. Its official line is that they didn’t have enough nurses to staff the floor. That may be one reason, but it’s not the only one.

There is another answer to the question of why DLP no longer offers inpatient substance abuse treatment. It’s because it’s not a moneymaker. For all of its warm and fuzzy advertising touting its care for our community, that care apparently does not extend to those struggling with addiction.

What does a person battling addiction look like? The person behind you in the grocery checkout line, your neighbor, your golf partner, your boss, your spouse, your child. Possibly you. Addiction doesn’t discriminate; it’s an equal opportunity killer. Being in the health care business, you’d think Duke LifePoint would have an interest in assisting the members of its community with battling this too-often fatal disease. It appears DLP prioritizes business over health care.

There are other inpatient treatment facilities in the U.P. They typically have waiting lists. Waiting for treatment can literally be fatal for someone who desperately needs outside help to set aside the needle or the bottle.

Better access to substance abuse treatment can mean fewer ambulance calls, fewer ER visits, lower crime, fewer incarcerations. All of that makes good financial sense. Better access to treatment makes good, compassionate sense.

As a self-advertised caring community hospital, it would be nice if Duke LifePoint extended its care to all members of the community, not just those who have profitable health conditions.

DEB PASCOE

Marquette