A state takeover?

Barbara Beckert head of Disability Rights Wisconsin in Milwaukee has called for the state of Wisconsin to appoint a state official to run the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. Disability Rights Wisconsin is the state mandated agency to ensure that the rights of people with disabilities are being respected. In their view the problems at the Mental Health Complex are endangering patient safety. A patient recently die of a broken neck under circumstances that are still being investigated. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm is conducting an open John Doe investigation into the matter.

Yesterday Joseph Sanfelippo, outgoing County Supervisor echoed Beckert’s call call for a state takeover due to the failure of Milwaukee County to make a good faith effort at downsizing the facility. Last week one of the units was closed. And I know there are plans to close something called Hilltop. I’m sorting out these issues for myself I’ve been working alongside some very dedicated people on my ward and I am wondering there the people they are caring for will get their assistance in the community.

How many people can the private hospitals care for? What is their willingness to accept the people at the Mental Health Complex? I was asked to join a Mental Health Redesign Working Group which is supposed to be looking at how to increase the number and pay rate of Certified Peer Specialists. While I understand the impatience of people who complain about the pace of change and the resistance to change, some things were very recently implemented. The Community Linkage and Stabilization Program, for example is very new. That program is designed to help reduce the demand for inpatient services. In addition my community job is like than six months old. We are working to link people with education, employment psychosocial rehabilitation services.

But this is a process. The people who are receiving case management services may have already received referrals from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation. They might have a record of failure in being able to sustain education or they might have outstanding college loans for private and public institutions. And the mental and physical challenges of the people who have been using our inpatient mental health facilities won’t disappear overnight.

I am a small piece of the solution but I will be interested in seeing the bigger picture at the Redesign Task Force meeting.



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