I write to respond to issues raised in a letter to the editor on Aug. 3 (“Drowned homeless man deserved better care”).

In a hospital’s emergency department, severely intoxicated patients are evaluated not only for alcohol abuse but for a myriad of other medical problems.

Often, and only with their consent, they are admitted to a detox facility. If they do not choose to enter detox and are homeless, they are given a cab pass to a shelter. Psychiatric evaluation is also provided in the ED and placement in a facility will often occur, but never against a patient’s will unless they are suicidal.

Drinking oneself to death is not considered being suicidal, just as we do not lock up all smokers for the same reason.

Awareness of what happens during the hours spent by these patients in the ED should blunt some of the criticism leveled at care providers.

While in the hospital, patients like Peter Garland are known by their first names. They are always treated with respect and dignity. They are fed, often bathed, their clothes are laundered while they sleep, and they are given medications if needed.

They are monitored in a prominent place in the department for their safety. And yes, when finally sober, clean and well-fed, these patients often choose to leave. Rather than providing a disservice to the Peter Garlands of Portland, it is the emergency departments that greatly contribute to their longevity.

There are hundreds of people in the Portland area, too numerous to mention here, who bend over backward to help people like Peter Garland and treat them not as “subhuman throwaways” but as human beings deserving of respect and care.

Perhaps they need one more.

Thomas O’Mara

Emergency Physician

Scarborough

Maine’s two GOP senators get noticed, for good or ill 

Recent issues of The Portland Press Herald have featured full-page ads thanking Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins for supporting HR 1586, a bill that supports access to vital health care services. They instilled a great sense of pride in me for their focus on “putting Maine families first” and for their courage in resisting pressure from their party leadership to just say no.

I was saddened, however, to read in some of these same issues, letters to the editor from Republicans that severely criticized the senators for breaking ranks on this and similar bills benefiting the people of Maine.

One writer emphasized his displeasure by suggesting the senators join the Democratic Party, since they are not true Republicans. My take on this is that they are true Americans.

I can imagine no more appropriate litmus test for the upcoming November elections than the vote cast for this bill.

Congressional incumbents who voted for the bill deserve to be returned to office. The general public may be justified in their disenchantment with government, but these legislators should not be penalized for the irresponsible actions of some of their colleagues. It is those who voted against the bill and sacrificed the best interests of their constituents to blindly follow the dictates of a deeply partisan party line who should be rejected.

What this country desperately needs are more servants of the people in Congress like Sens. Snowe and Collins — Americans first, political party affiliates second.

Phyllis Kamin

Cumberland

I would like to thank Sens. Snowe and Collins for their willingness to stand up to their party leaders and vote for the passage of the additional funding for Medicaid and education, a vote that assuredly helps Maine people.

This is why we sent our leaders to Washington. It seems so often to be forgotten. Our elected leaders are in Washington to represent the needs of their citizens, not to simply follow party lines.

The two Maine senators’ votes have assuredly averted state layoffs and health care cuts. They did what was right, and I applaud their bravery in what must have been an unpopular vote in the eyes of the Republican leadership.

Pamela Smith

North Yarmouth

As we come closer to the November mid-term elections, it is no surprise that Republicans in general are refusing to vote for any Democratic-sponsored measure in Congress.

But I am seriously disappointed in our own Sens. Snowe and Collins for joining the trend, contrary to their usual independence.

Both Snowe and Collins voted against the Disclose Act, which would have required corporations to reveal their identities when making political advertisements. This means that, under the recent Supreme Court Citizens United decision, a company such as BP could threaten to spend millions of dollars on anonymous attack ads if a particular candidate didn’t vote in the interest of the company. That either senator would allow this is simply shameful.

Even more recently, Snowe and Collins voted against a bill that would provide $30 billion in loans to small businesses. The Democratic-sponsored bill, which had the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Federation of Independent Business (both allies of the GOP), was rejected by Republicans because Democrats refused to amend it to include an extension of the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy.

Suddenly, Republicans want to simultaneously loan $30 billion while cutting taxes? It just doesn’t make sense. They expect to be known as the party of fiscal responsibility?

Their rejection of these two bills is really a vote for the aristocratic influence of big business. I expect more of our senators, because previously they had shown to be immune to the obstructionist nature of the GOP. I guess they want me to forget that.

Michael J. Trombley

South Portland

I expect that most of the nation is grateful that Maine has sent two Republicans to the U.S. Senate who have the courage to use their common sense.

Recently Sens. Snowe and Collins have provided the key votes necessary to make life easier for the unemployed and for states hit hard by the recession, voting against their party to overcome two filibusters.

It is a sad commentary on the partisan climate in Washington when we feel the need to praise our senators for doing the right thing. But such is the nature of the political climate right now. So, thank you to them for their independence and courage.

Dwight Ely

Scarborough

Our senators not only represent Maine in the U.S. Senate, but they represent the nation as well.

The Senate votes on Supreme Court justices, treaties, etc. They do not represent just Maine interests, like Bath Iron Works. We live in a global economy now, and letters from away about Maine people and topics should be accepted and printed by The Portland Press Herald.

Thomas Heels

Scarborough