Heroin addicts need care

In a show that aired Tuesday, television personality Dr. Oz visited the heroin encampment near 2nd and Indiana in Philadelphia. "The festering epicenter of heroin," he called it.

Heroin addicts need care

Aside from our city's hot spot along the Conrail tracks in Fairhill and West Kensington, there are many areas nationwide where drugs are easily obtained, and the number of addiction victims continues to soar ("Oz to see heroin encampment," April 8). As the article pointed out, "Any effort to clean up the area would require displacing the people who consider the area their home." A draft of an agreement between Conrail and the city "did not address which agency would be responsible for finding housing and treatment for them."

That is the crux of the problem that gets little if any fixing. We don't have the facilities or the medical and mental health system and professionals available to handle even the tip of the iceberg. Many who seek help for their loved ones get stonewalled or can't get immediate help. That is the critical time when an addict surrenders and really wants to do whatever is necessary to get and stay clean, yet those precious hours when recovery should start pass because a bed is not available, there's a lack of insurance or money, or other red tape.

It is easier to get emergency hospital treatment for everything but an alcohol or drug problem.

|Jim and Ann McGinty, Phoenixville, jimmcginty2@comcast.net

What caused underlying pain?

As a longtime professor of social work, I find it difficult to disagree with Mike Newall's column on the need to clean up the heroin encampment along the Conrail tracks in Kensington ("Don't drop the ball on finally dealing with heroin camp," April 9). There are, though, a few considerations he didn't discuss. He described the area as "a pit of suffering," which it undoubtedly is. The suffering began long before individuals found their way to the unleavened bleakness along the tracks.

Opioid use and other drugs often are a way to ease the pain of existence. What has caused life to be so painful is the existential question that we might want to think about. As well as providing treatment programs, we could look to social conditions and personal circumstances that make life almost unbearable for some. It is what we owe one another.

|Allan Irving, Swarthmore

Spicer's ignorance shameful

White House press secretary Sean Spicer's statement that Hitler hadn't used chemical weapons showed an amazing lack of understanding of history ("Spicer apologizes for Holocaust reference," Wednesday). The statement, followed by his clarification referring to "Holocaust centers," was a huge show of disrespect to all victims of the Holocaust. Either he is the most stupid presidential spokesperson in history or it's another diversion from the inquiry into the Trump administration's Russian ties.

Spicer needs to be reprimanded and educated about the happenings in Nazi Germany. It's embarrassing for America, on a national and international stage, to have this person represent the president.

|Marla Gerber, Cherry Hill

MacArthur wrong on health care

I am a 62-year-old, retired family practitioner, and I have cared for underserved, indigent patients.

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R., Burlington) frequently talks about his daughter, who died at age 11 and accumulated $1 million in medical bills. He has said that without health insurance, he would have gone broke, so he understands its importance ("MacArthur defends standing with Trump," Thursday).

But then MacArthur supported a Republican bill that would have resulted in 24 million people being uninsured by 2020. That is hypocritical. His vote would have hurt people. I would have thought his experience would compel him to insist that every American have affordable health insurance.

He knows nothing about the terrible choices uninsured people are forced to make: medicine vs. food, doctor's visit vs. keeping the electricity on, hospital care vs. paying the rent. He is the only member of Congress for New Jersey who planned to vote for the terrible GOP health-care bill. He is not representing his constituents.

|Eileen G. Hill, M.D., Mount Laurel

Give the gift of life

Thank you for the inspiring story of heart-transplant recipient and Ironman competitor Derek Fitzgerald, "I was alive because I was 'us,' " April 9). Derek is an example of the lifesaving impact of transplantation and the amazing lives it makes possible - in this case, not only a triathlete but a beautiful little girl.

I am privileged to know Derek and have seen him inspire other athletes at the Donate Life Transplant Games of America, an Olympic-style event where organ- and tissue-transplant recipients and living donors compete to raise awareness about donation and highlight the success of transplantation.

Unfortunately, there are still more than 5,400 men, women, and children in eastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey, and Delaware who are on the transplant waiting list. In the United States, an average of 22 people die each day while waiting for a transplant.

The most effective way to decrease the wait list is to increase the number of registered organ and tissue donors. One person can save up to eight others through organ donation and enhance the lives of countless others through tissue donation. It only takes 30 seconds to register to give the gift of life at www.donors1.org.

|Howard M. Nathan, president and chief executive officer, Gift of Life Donor Program, Philadelphia

Rendell's power waning?

Is ex-Mayor/Gov. Ed Rendell's endorsement for political candidates a blessing, a curse, or a who-cares-item ("Rendell backs Khan to succeed Williams as DA," April 6)? Think Katie McGinty for the answer.

|Andrea Preis, Philadelphia