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LNIU, Northen Star, published on Friday, March 27, 2009

Kishwaukee Hospital’s mental health unit's closure will hurt many


On March 9, the DeKalb County Mental Health Board held an open forum to gather community input about closing Kishwaukee Hospital’s mental health unit. As a member of the board, and knowing these forums usually do not attract large crowds, I was surprised to see close to 130 people attending.

In summary, presentations were made by the hospital officials indicating few patients, staffing and costs as reasons for their request. Personal comments stressed the need for families to be close to help patients gain a footing, and it was stressed that changing doctors by transportation to hospitals some 40 to 50 miles away causes hardships on both patients and families.
What I find most disturbing and unfortunate is the timing of this move.

Efforts from 1996 on to expand mental health parity came on Oct. 24, 2008 when then-President Bush signed into law P.L. 110-343 which provided expanded mental health parity (to meet many unmet needs) within the rescue package for the U.S. financial system. The law provides many with insurance not currently within their packages.

The timing is also off because hospital officials and the hospital board must have known about studies being done to get a more accurate picture of local needs. For example, the “DeKalb County Human Service Delivery in a Challenging Economy” was being conducted by the DeKalb County Community Foundation, Kishwaukee United Way and the NIU Center for Governmental Studies. They must have also been aware of studies in progress by Health Systems Research at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Rockford to provide the DeKalb County Mental Health Board with an up-to-date assessment as to current mental health needs in the county. This study is still in progress and results are expected early this summer.

Added to the information above are the upsetting statistics reported on suicides within our armed forces abroad in war zones, the experience last year on campus and a trend toward growth in suicides among our young populations.

National surveys report a growing jail population indication of 20 percent of inmates with substance abuse and mental health needs. In addition, when one looks at the severe downturn in our economy causing greater unemployment and veterans returning home, in need of help readjusting to everyday life, it seems unreal to eliminate the mental health unit at this time.

Does every unit in our hospital have to be profitable? This community came aboard to help build this new not-for-profit hospital. For all these reasons and more, I hope both the hospital and the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board take a close and serious look at our community’s mental health needs because if they do so, they will come to their senses.

Eileen Dubin
County board representative to the DeKalb County Mental Health Board

Kish Hospital gets state approval to close the Mental Health Unit

Mental Health Advocate- October 2009

Dr. Foroutan Letter to the State

the DeKalb County Citizens for Better Mental health Care

State decision on mental health unit postponed



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Hospital execs' salaries revealed

Letter to the Editor 9

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NAMI Letter

Highlights of Application

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The columnist can be reached via email at :


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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115