PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

More Groups Expressing Concern Over BHD

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on June 13, 2010

From Milwaukee County First:

I noticed a press release today which was jointly issues by Mental Health of America Wisconsin, Independence First and National Alliance on Mental Health of Greater Milwaukee expressing their concern about the problems that are going on at the mental health complex.  From the press release:

Mental Health America of Wisconsin (MHA), Independence First (IF) and National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Milwaukee (NAMI) would like to add our voices to those who are very concerned about the recent issues regarding the safety of the individuals receiving services at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex Acute Care Unit.

Not only are we appalled by the specific acts of sexual assault that allegedly occurred on the Acute Care Units, we are equally concerned that it appears that so many of the people on the unit could have been residing in the community had the appropriate services and supports been made available to them.  Based on DRW’s report many of the individuals had multiple hospitalizations and were not appropriately linked to services that could have eliminated the need for these hospitalizations altogether.

Collectively, we have been calling on the state to expand community-based mental health services for years. As advocacy agencies that have served Milwaukee County for decades, we call on all concerned to turn these extremely unfortunate events into an opportunity to address the long overdue need for systematic change in the way we deliver mental health care in our community.

[…]

We are extremely pleased to see that the County Board of Supervisors is supporting the formation of a Community Advisory Council (CAC), which can be a focal point for thoughtful review of all the issues identified by DRW and identification of meaningful solutions. With that said, we would like to underscore our belief that the scope of the CAC’s efforts must go beyond the incidents at the Acute Care Unit.

Adequate funding and access to community mental health services needs to be addressed in both the County and State budgets. As stated earlier, DRW called attention to the fact that many of the individuals on the Acute Care Unit appear to have had multiple hospitalizations making them candidates for services through community support programs.  Unfortunately, mental health services are chronically underfunded.

The responsibility for improving the system is not limited to the public sector. According to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team, a number of private hospitals are refusing to treat voluntary patients.  Instead emergency room personnel push for an emergency detention and refuse to accept the patient. Thus, these individuals are transported to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex, which is already stressed and overburdened. As a community, we all need to take some responsibility.

I would point out that we previously had also called for the committee and the review to be expanded to cover the entire complex and not be just focused on the acute ward.

It is good that they also note that the mental health services in Milwaukee County are grossly underfunded, putting these vulnerable people, and all of us, in harm’s way needlessly.

It is also interesting to note that the Milwaukee Police are also reporting a problem with the private hospitals refusing to take voluntary patients.  I was aware that the private hospitals were not carrying their weight and would often push patients out prematurely, but I was not aware that they were actively resisting taking in patients.  This makes Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo’s suggestion of privatizing BHD and Scott Walker’s repeated attempts at privatizing  outpatient services seem all the more ridiculous and irresponsible.

We need to get more responsible and realistic about how these vital services are being provided, and we need to do it now.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: