Hey Stratogen, You're Fired!
After reading Kathy Glasgow's article "Good Work, Now You're Fired," (August 14), I canceled my scheduled appointment at Stratogen Health. It would have been appropriate to call in the cancellation, but considering the absence of appropriate notice Stratogen's new owners gave both Lori Bell and Susan Luck upon their dismissals, I think I made the right decision by just not showing up.
I have been a resident of South Beach for the last four years, after a six-year stint in New York City. It is not difficult for me to remain enthusiastic about the offerings of our tropical paradise. Like a multitude of other homosexual men whose move here was prompted by the discovery of HIV/AIDS concerns, I too opted to trade the harsh, stressful realities of living in New York for the warmer, easier lifestyle available here.
Before my arrival in Miami, I was very familiar with the beautiful beaches, the usually cooperative weather, and the overall beauty of its landscapes and people. My only concern was the kind of medical care I would receive once here. With my own HIV status, as well as with the treatment of friends and lovers over the past twelve years, I have experienced medical facilities in New York, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and Houston. I understand the varying levels of HIV/AIDS care around the country. In truth, my expectations for Miami were modest at best. I could not have been more wrong.
My initial visit to Dr. David Schmitt at Stratogen was an experience I will never forget. Our dialogue that day was absolutely divine. He probed into my mind, my body, and my soul with the gentle determination of a man on a mission to resolve an injustice he could not turn his back on. He asked questions, he listened to the answers, and he processed information in a manner that bolstered me with the feeling I was in the presence of a great mind and, perhaps even more important, a compassionate soul.
I have seen Dr. Schmitt regularly over the past four years, and when I think back to our many talks and his advice and treatments, it is as much what he didn't do rather than what he did that most significantly stands out in my mind. I have very definite beliefs against most of the popular drug-treatment regimens regarding HIV/AIDS care, and never once did Dr. Schmitt attempt to dissuade me from my beliefs. It is for this reason that I believe I am alive today and enjoying a healthy life.
At Dr. Schmitt's direction, Stratogen has always offered and promoted alternative methods of care for HIV/AIDS patients. It is my belief that the new ownership of Stratogen has derailed the entire concept of what made Stratogen the premier oasis of HIV/AIDS care in the entire country.
I now feel a little sad and lost without Dr. Schmitt and Stratogen to rely upon. But my decision not to keep my appointment feels right. I simply cannot support a corporation that has dismantled the work of a true visionary and the staff that was created in the pursuit of that vision.
Spoken Like a True Flak
In response to Ted B. Kissell's article "The Body Politic Hits the Beach" (August 14), Harvey Slavin wrote a letter denouncing Armando Gutierrez's self-serving effort to put together a slate backed by Hispanic Americans and Orthodox Jews. The letter was partially on target.
Where it was totally off-base was where Slavin viciously attacked former Miami Beach city commissioner Abe Resnick. Mr. Resnick, the first Hispanic elected to the Beach commission and an Orthodox Jew himself, has in no way endorsed the concept of a slate from just two segments of the city's population. He did attend a meeting to organize cooperation between candidates and supporters of Hispanic and Jewish candidates.
Mr. Gutierrez is making a plain-to-see grab by supporting certain candidates and opposing rival candidates who happen to be supported by archrival political consultant Robert Goodman, who is is no angel himself.
Unfortunately, outstanding candidates such as Spencer Eig must now overcome the stigma of Gutierrez's "endorsement," and he has said he will not be a party to ethnic divisiveness stirred up by Gutierrez.
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Spoken Like a True Naif
Miami Beach Unity '97 inspires me with a sense of hope that everyone in our diverse community can work together for the common cause. The endorsed candidates -- career prosecutor Spencer Eig, entrepreneur Simon Cruz, Save Miami Beach PAC leader David Dermer for commissioners, and hotelier David Pearlson for mayor -- stand for unity and inclusiveness in Miami Beach.
Whoever might attack this emerging voice of harmony can represent only the forces of discord and negativity. Supporting these Unity '97 candidates, and the cause of togetherness and peace, makes me proud to be a lifelong resident of Miami Beach.
Stewart M. Mirmelli