SHOWDOWN: Public hearing May 8 at DeKalb City Hall
Join us at 10 a.m. Friday, May 8 at the DeKalb City Council
chambers, 200 South 4th Street, for the public hearing we have
requested before the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.
This is our last opportunity to make the case for keeping the
Center for Behavioral Health (CBH) operating at Kishwaukee Hospital.
Those wishing to speak in opposition to the closing should get
there early to sign up for a speaker slot. There will be three
sign-in sheets-- for those in favor, those opposed and those
The hearing officer will be a staff member of the board but unfortunately
no board members will be attending. They will receive a report
and recommendation from their staff on the hospital's Certificate
of Need closure proposal two weeks before their July 15 meeting
in Springfield. At that meeting we will only be able to comment
specifics in their report and not present any additional testimony.
So it is imperative we have a good turnout for this May 8 hearing.
But get there early or you won't find a seat in the crowded 75-seat
meeting room upstairs in city hall.
In other news, Jerry Lane, former executive director of the County
Mental Health Board, will be assuming the chairperson's role
for our Citizens for Better Mental Health Care. Barry Schrader
said he is glad to pass the torch to someone who has more extensive
experience in the mental health field and a good background on
local mental health care issues. Lane can be reached at 815-895-2617.
Many letters to the editor and other related material on the
CBH unit closure can be found online at www.dekalbcountvlife.com by clicking on the
Mental Health icon.
Kishwaukee Hospital Board members' names published
According to the website of the Kishwaukee Hospital (as of
March 2009) here are the names of the current board members of
the hospital, most of whom made the decision to seek closure
of the Center for Behavioral Health unit last November. In case
you know any of them, let your opinion be known. They are CEO/president
Sycamore banker and board chair Michael Cullen, Terrence Duffy,
Kevin Egly, Dr. Erik Englehart, Dr. Ronald Feldman, Don Kieso,
Mike Larson, Tom Matya, Mary Lynn McArtor, Mike Mooney, John
Moulton (new), Attorney Brad Waller, Mohammed Yasin, and Anita
Out Steering Committee to date
Here are the names of the DeKalb County Citizens for Better
Mental Health Care steering committee, more names to be added
as people come forward: Jerry Lane (chair), Donna and Jack Bennett,
Wendell Chestnut, Barry
Schrader, and Averil Schreiber, We have some 60 people on
our mailing list who have expressed concern and interest over
the CBH closing and diminishing mental health patient services
at the hospital.
Three letters of note
Among the dozen or more letters that have appeared in the
newspapers over the past several weeks we want to point out three
examples of well thought-out arguments and presentation of the
issues. Others can be found on the website:
Psychiatrist opposes closure of mental health unit
To the editor: I would like to make clear my position regarding
the closing of the Center of Behavioral Health at Kishwaukee
In a recent Daily Chronicle
editorial I was quoted as saying "The low number of patients
and the quality of patient care was a self fulfilling prophesy.
The unit can't provide comprehensive care because there are so
few patients, but doctors don't want to admit patients to a unit
with2ut a high level of care." I was not misquoted. However,
my statement was taken out of context. I am opposed to closing
the Center for Behavioral Health at Kishwaukee Community Hospital.
I was the director of Psychiatric Services at KCH
from 1976 to 2006. Before that I was Director of Psychiatric
services at DeKalb Public Hospital from 1972 to 1976. During
that time CBH was one of the most effective psychiatric units
in the state by any measurable standards. For example, during
many of those years we had the lowest percentage of our population
referred to state hospitals of any region in the state.
I don't know what has happened since 2006. I do, however,
know what was not done. Dr. Thomas Dennison and I, who have served
our community and been on the staff of
KCH for over one half century in combined years, were never consulted
about any problems regarding CBH or the need to close it. No
other models of care, including but not limited to using a hospitalist
or developing a program to treat psychiatric patients on the
general medical floor were ever tried.
been a psychiatrist for over 40 years. During that time I have
learned that psychiatric patients are best treated in their home
communities where they can be visited by their families, and
their families can meet with the treating doctors, nurses, and
social workers easily and more frequently.
support keeping the CBH open.
Thomas E. Kirts, MD, DeKalb
Kishwaukee Hospital's mental health unit closure will hurt
Editor: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
County Board representative to the DeKalb County Community Mental
Chronicle missing the point
To the editor: It is very ironic that the Chronicle has been
running a number of items about the failure of mental health
care in the U.S. The articles have ranged from mentally ill individuals
dying in local jails because they were denied their medications
to California hospitals dumping non-functioning psychiatric patients
on skid row, leading to further deaths. The Chronicle seems to
be coyly responding to the community outrage over the closing
of Kishwaukee Community Hospital's behavioral (mental) health
Perhaps if the Chronicle editorial
staff had been reading its own articles or done a little investigative
reporting, the hasty editorial supporting the KCH closure would
have been more nuanced. Ultimately, this is not about whether
there are too many behavioral health beds in our regional hospitals.
The Illinois Hospital Facilities Planning Board was not set up
to do needs assessments or to reform the mental health system.
It was set up to ration health care. This un-capitalistic regulatory
body was deemed necessary because health care providers were
overbuilding in some areas, driving up costs and sometimes driving
each other into mutual failure or reducing the overall availability
of health care.
The problem with behavioral health
care is that there is a huge. lack of inpatient beds - not a
surplus. So how can KCH 'or IHFPB contend that there are too
many? The answer is that for decades, we have been penny wise
and pound foolish in support of behavioral health care. Where
do you think those seriously ill individuals go when we shut
down our state hospitals, underfund and overwhelm our community
mental health centers and require general hospital psychiatric
units to discharge
patients who are clearly not capable of making reasonable
They are in the same places that they
were 200 years ago - cared for at home by over-stressed families,
living on the streets, in asylums (homeless shelters and nursing
homes) and in prisons. The largest public mental health facility
in Illinois - and one of the largest in the nation - is the Cook
County Jail. Do you really think it's cheaper to adequately treat
someone who is ill in a jail versus a hospital? Do you think
the average family or homeless shelter is equipped for the day-to-day
care of someone with a serious mental illness?
hiding our problem this way, taxpayers, politicians, insurance
companies and hospital administrators can tout how fiscally responsible
we are while ignoring the 500&SHY;pound gorilla in the room.
In the long run, our society pays dearly both in money and in
human tragedy for our lack of compassion or even common sense
What can we do locally? We can do what DeKalb County
citizens have always done to meet a community need. We can come
together to keep this valuable service intact. It's time the
KCH administrators and board did for the behavioral health inpatient
program what they did to get the new hospital built &SHY;provide
some leadership, show some vision, generate some enthusiasm,
engage the community, work with stakeholders, make a case to
donors and show us what a state-of-the&SHY;art behavioral health
inpatient unit looks like. A large part of the community is already
on board. Help us make it happen.
Jerry Lane (former executive director of the County Mental
Health Board) Sycamore