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Monday, January 30, 2012

Will Purdue Plant a Garden?

Purdue Pharma provides community grants to non-healthcare community groups in support of a wide variety of educational, cultural, and civic initiatives. They place particular emphasis on contributions to organizations in the communities in which their colleagues live and work. And, the company also supports local and national initiatives to help communities across the country encourage the healthy development of youth by reducing high-risk behavior, such as substance abuse.

The Purdue Healthcare Grant Review Committee considers healthcare-related requests by organizations (e.g., societies, institutions, hospitals), whether the grants are related to education matters (e.g., live programs, educational materials, general educational initiatives, research studies, fellowships) or non-education matters (e.g., charitable events).

Also, Purdue provides direct healthcare grants to foster improved understanding of scientific, clinical, and healthcare issues that help to improve patient care. All grant requests from healthcare-related organizations, whether the grants are related to educational or non-educational initiatives, are reviewed by the Purdue Healthcare Grant Review Committee.

I have taken the appropriate steps to initiate a request for a grant from Purdue Pharma in the amount of $150,000 to help The Scioto County Drug Action Team Alliance construct a healing garden that will contain the SOLACE National Memorial to the Victims of the Disease of Drug Abuse. We believe this setting will aid in improving holistic patient care for those who suffer pain and, thereby, help reduce drug dependency while providing a fitting memorial to those who have lost their lives to abuse.

The garden will serve the physical and mental needs of patients, staff, and visitors of the Southern Ohio Medical Center, and it will be an area to all residents of Scioto County. The many health benefits provided by a healing garden are well documented. In addition, the garden will provide an area of respite, transcendence, and education for all ages. As a place of congregation, both individuals and groups will find the garden conducive to relaxation, nature study, physical and psychological healing, and meditation.

Understanding Purdue's commitment to healthcare and to community improvement, I trust they will provide funds needed to construct a place that will help bridge the gap of understanding that exists between the thriving pharmaceutical industry and residents who reside in a county devastated by the illegal distribution of rx drugs. With the inclusion of a permanent SOLACE Memorial within the garden, a nation may better come to grips with the need to treat addiction as a deadly disease and to accept its many victims as tragic reminders of those we can no further suffer to succumb.

Money spent on this project will yield vast returns, not only to those in Scioto County but also to those across the nation struggling to find a medium between medication and alternative treatment. Here in our area, people must find new wills to cope with a sick economy and a sick spirit. The argument about whether lack of jobs or our pitiful social attitudes are most at fault for our decline is moot. Both are cancers with the potential to be terminal.

According to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2010, our small section of Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia leads the nation in depression, percentage of unhealthy days, and "lack of energy to get things done." Without better health and increased drive, we will continue to suffer disproportionately. 

Here in Scioto County, we have come to grips with our situation. We have exposed a health epidemic related to drug abuse, and we have fought fiercely to eliminate major problems related to this abuse. We know what happens when greedy physicians and unscrupulous pharmacists assist drug dealers. Literally everyone in our county has suffered the horrible consequences of unethical minds feeding sick habits and criminal behaviors. No place in America should have to contend with the scale of death and destruction we continue to repel.

The earth of Appalachia has always been sacred ground to its loving inhabitants. But now, our hills, our streams and rivers, our hollows, and even our buildings and streets hold memories of better days gone by. With native stubbornness, we have distrusted the rich and powerful, and we have questioned almost any change. In a word, we have learned to become "stagnant."

Even in decline, we dislike the stereotypes outsiders use to belittle us and our hillbilly ancestors. We understand that our accents and peculiar customs have made us a "different" type of minority. Yet, at one time, we employed our own isolation to make strong, common bonds that served us well. But, today, that is no longer the case. Our population is either "looking back" while sinking in sadness or "looking ahead" while preparing to move elsewhere.

And, look what moved to the depths of our despair to take advantage of the remains -- the bottom feeders. They came with new business opportunities to set up mills of pills. They sprinkled pain relieving opiates like bread crumbs to attract those nearby and those far away. From Florida and Detroit carloads drove here to shop. Thousands took daily retreats as they snorted crushed capsules, swallowed opiate cocktails, and pushed silver needles into their skin. Damn, lots of folks got happy -- until reality slipped back in and they woke up on the bottom again. That is, the ones who did wake up because many perished as the chemicals took them over.

If I had the means and the brains, I would rebuild this area I love with a view of the future. I wouldn't complain about the lack of industry or the lack of retail stores or the lack of Dreamland Pool or the lack of any of "the way things used to be."

Instead, I would build on health -- the mental and physical health of all people. And, I would build on education -- the ability to think and reason in all people. I would spend all of my time and resources on  healing: 

(1) Healing the bodies of everyone from the smallest babies (officials say now up to half born here are addicted) to the bodies of the oldest seniors (some of which sell pills to pay their utilities) and

(2) Healing the minds just beginning to comprehend the results of their decisions to the minds weakened to the edge of dying.

I know I'm a crazy fool with an entirely different vision, but I think Scioto needs a garden, one that can help heal its citizens in body and spirit. And, a garden that will awaken the nation to the realization that thousands of beautiful, well-meaning people are needlessly dying each year of a disease -- a disease we all must take responsibility for curing. I pray Purdue helps us with this simple project on the home front -- maybe it could be a bridge of understanding and a road to a garden of hope.
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