Letters to the Editor for Sunday, Sept. 24

At Rusk State Hospital we recently celebrated 100 years of service while honoring our deep connection to the community. As we celebrate the past, we’re also planning for the hospital’s future. We are breaking ground on our new $200 million hospital on Tuesday.

With this new project, we are creating a modern facility that includes a new administration building, a 100-bed maximum-security unit and 100-bed non-maximum-security unit. Construction is expected to be completed in 2024.

This project is part of the $745 million investment Texas lawmakers have made in the state hospital system in the past two legislative sessions. Here in Rusk, the new facilities will match the state-of-the-art inpatient psychiatric care we provide.

What drives the new construction on the Rusk campus are the people we serve.

As the largest employer in Cherokee County, the hospital provides job opportunities for a wide variety of skill sets and education levels. Multiple generations of East Texas families have been employed at Rusk State Hospital. People working here are often following in the footsteps of their parents and grandparents. My mother retired from the state hospital.

Rusk State Hospital is a big part of our community, and there is pride in working here.

Our understanding of mental health care has improved dramatically over the years. In 1949, Rusk State Hospital had more patients than staff. Today there are nearly 300 patients and almost 900 team members. But as we focus on the specialized care we provide — and as the need for our services grows — we need to reinvent our approach.

These 130-year-old buildings cannot be renovated or repaired to meet the needs of the people we serve today. But we’re working with the community to preserve the stories and the legacy of those who have been here before.

The connection between Rusk State Hospital and our East Texas community did begin with this site, these buildings. But Rusk State Hospital isn’t the buildings. It’s the people. Our grandparents and parents stood with us as we grew and evolved. We know you will stand with us, and the people we serve, today as we reinvent our facilities and shape the future of mental health care.

Michelle Foster,


Rusk State Hospital

Making a choice

Abortion is a divisive topic. People in the pro-choice camp firmly believe they are advocating for women’s rights. People in the pro-life camp firmly believe they are advocating for saving unborn babies.

Pro-choice people and pro-life people have, shall we say, very intense discussions on the matter of abortion. Both truly believe that they are right. I believe the key element to consider when choosing a side in such a controversial topic should be facts, not emotions.

The National Human Genome Research Institute says that fertilization creates a new, biologically unique human. I would assume that someone who has an abortion doesn’t think the “zygote” is a really a baby yet. Otherwise, that would clearly be murder.

But what if that woman was wrong? What if there is just the slightest chance that she is indeed carrying a human from conception? How about this: What if you had a gun that only fired bullets some of the time and I asked you to shoot a nearby child? Would you shoot?

I’m not asking you to refrain from using any kind of birth control. I’m simply asking you to think and research unbiased facts.

Alissa Blankenship


Importance of hygiene

A friend contracted a skin ailment from a towel at the beauty shop where she had her hair washed, diagnosed as demodex by a dermatologist.

I am aware that sometimes parents take their children to these shops and want to warn these parents to select a beauty shop carefully that properly sanitizes linens with soap and hot water to avoid parasitic infection.

Mary Wood


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