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Daily Chronicle Sept. 2, 2009
The Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board voted Tuesday morning to close the unit during a meeting in Springfield. The planning board, a division of the Illinois Department of Public Health, is tasked with ensuring the supply of medical space and services is in balance with demand across the state.
The decision ended a process that began last fall, when Kishwaukee asked for permission to close the six-bed unit, which administrators have said is underutilized and difficult to staff.
Chronicle letter to the editor Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Problems with Kish hospital and the Daily Chronicle
To the editor:
Kishwaukee Community Hospital and the Daily Chronicle upheld the view that the only acute behavioral health inpatient unit within DeKalb County available to the nearly 100,000 residents should be closed.
Certainly, the unmet needs of the mentally ill and their families are the most important issues at stake. But also strikingly unnerving is the fact that a community paper would take sides in a local discussion that could be an opportunity for investigative reporting that would shed light on a vital issue mental health.
Hospital staff in the behavioral unit at McDonough Hospital in Macomb reported that inpatient care is needed every week. How could there be no one needing behavioral health inpatient treatment in DeKalb County since May? By eliminating the behavioral health unit, Kish fails to acknowledge the medical underpinnings of behavioral health.
The Daily Chronicles poll showed approximately 73 percent of readers disagreed with the decision to close the unit. Many voices understand what is at stake, and the Daily Chronicle presumes to understand those passionate advocates. It is incredibly patronizing and demeaning to suggest the advocates of mental health treatment are somehow emotionally involved beyond reason or are acting out of sympathy rather than fact. The remark about state regulators coming to a similar conclusion as the hospital, when those three state regulators are what is left of a seven-member board, are lobbied by representatives of the hospital association, and did not allow testimony on Sept. 1 from a single opponent of the hospitals petition is worse than being emotional. Its misleading.
The Daily Chronicle suggested opponents used personal attacks. Did the Daily Chronicle feel the sting when CEO and other administrator salaries were exposed? Thats not getting personal. Nonprofit organizations with integrity welcome such scrutiny.
Reading the opinion page on Saturday filled me with some disgust to once again hear the hospital bemoan its difficult decision. Beginning the process without preliminary, extensive community input, answering questions only privately and preferably individually not in any kind of a forum, changing the focus when it was found there is actually a shortage of inpatient mental health beds in the area and pushing a decision through a three-member board down in Springfield sound less than painstaking.
Kishwaukee Community Hospital and the Daily Chronicle made their priorities clear and won. Too bad it was all about closing doors instead of opening them.