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May 2009____________Box 851, DeKalb, IL, 60115__________Issue No 2

Published by DeKalb County Citizens for Better Mental Health Care

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 just attending.

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 on the
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 Kevin Poorten, 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 Zurbrugg.

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 Community Hospital.
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.
I have 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.
I strongly 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.
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 Community Mental Health Board

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 inpatient unit.
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 decisions?
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?
By hiding our problem this way, taxpayers, politicians, insurance companies and hospital administrators can tout how fiscally responsible we are while ignoring the 500­pound 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 ­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-the­art 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

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


New issue of Mental Health newsletter

Letter to the Editor 1

Letter to the Editor 2

Letter to the Editor 3

Letter to the Editor 4

Letter to the Editor 5

Letter to the Editor 6

Letter to the Editor 7

Letter to the Editor 8

Hospital execs' salaries revealed

Letter to the Editor 9

Article 1

Article 2

Article 3

Article 4

Article 5

NAMI Letter

Highlights of Application


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The columnist can be reached via email at :


or by snailmail at:

Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115