To the editor:
The County Mental Health Boards public forum was a
resounding success with an estimated 100 people in attendance
and 15 private citizens making presentations. Fourteen of them
came down on the side of keeping the hospitals mental health
unit operating. Testimony was heartfelt and to the point. The
case was clearly made that we need the Center for Behavioral
Health re-opened. It is amazing that 100 people took time to
come out for such a sensitive and sometimes stigmatized issue.
But heres the bad news: Only five of the 18 members
of the Kishwaukee Hospital Board bothered to show up for the
forum they were each invited to. Their absence sadly shows their
contempt for mental health care at their community
In my comments I requested four simple things: (1) Withdraw
their application to the state seeking to close the unit; (2)
conduct a nationwide search for a qualified mental health unit
director; (3) let that person hire and train a staff; (4) restore
the trust of admitting psychiatrists who have lost faith that
this hospital cares about mental health.
The director of the closed mental health unit Dr. Fatima
Hadi told the audience there is not as much need for inpatient
care anymore. Has she been reading the news about the crises
among families who are out of work, the stress of returning veterans
from Iraq, and the fact there were 60 attempted suicide victims
in our county last year who were brought to the hospital by the
Sheriffs Department alone?
And I was sorry to find out that the Ben Gordon Mental Health
Center is caught up in the contractual entanglements of providing
the unit director to the hospital, so their public position on
its usefulness has to be neutral. If the unit has been closed
since November why is Dr. Hadi still being paid to manage it?
These are federal grant funds paying for her services, our tax
dollars. Maybe they have to spend all the grant monies or be
required to give some back?
What is wrong with this picture? Who cares about mental health
patient needs when the unit is shut down but the hospital and
the Ben Gordon Center still keep the grant money? What are we
getting for our tax dollars? Not mental health care, thats
DeKalb County Citizens for Better Mental Health Care