In Reply: The commission appreciates the opportunity to rectify what appears to be a misunderstanding concerning the purpose of an article by Mr. Stavis published in our newsletter in 1996. As an independent oversight agency in New York State's mental hygiene system, the commission investigates complaints on behalf of patients and their families. Its procedures for receiving complaints are user-friendly and no more complicated than simply making a phone call to a toll-free number. The commission receives more than 18,000 such calls annually, and consumers praise the ease of use and responsiveness of our staff.
Unfortunately, Mr. Francisco mistakenly perceives Mr. Stavis' article as guidelines issued by the commission. Rather, the article was meant to provide general advice on how best to complain to achieve the desired response or benefit. Indeed, a letter received shortly afterward from a senior advocate at Maine Advocacy Services, the state's disability rights advocacy agency, commented that "it is a wonderful guide to everyone who uses administrative grievance procedures on behalf of their clients or on behalf of themselves. I like it so much that I would like to be able to distributed it to the users of our state's electronic bulletin board for people with disabilities."
We regret that Mr. Francisco mistook the article for actual guidelines issued by the commission. Though Mr. Stavis previously responded to Mr. Francisco's letter, the commission is willing to continue the dialogue with him on this or any other mental hygiene matter of concern to him.
Mr. Masline is executive assistant to the chairman of the Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled in Albany, New York.