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From: Jaq (12.236.178.152)
Subject:         Tea Party No Tax Agenda and the Threat to Public Safety
Date: November 3, 2010 at 11:55 am PST

    If lawmakers don’t support a tax increase, they need to go beyond suggesting “cutting waste and fat,” added Anders Lindall, spokesman for Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

    Lawmakers will have to take responsibility for what will be “devastating cuts” in services and thousands of layoffs of people inside and outside state government, Lindall said.

    Mentally ill people typically aren’t violent when they are taking their medicine, not abusing drug or alcohol and receiving the treatment they need, Soltys said. But they can harm themselves and others when their illnesses are allowed to worsen.

One year later, Mental Health Facilities are writing the community that they are still in crises mode and do not have the funds to care for people in need. I received such a letter and frankly, the Tea Party No Tax agenda is a very dangerous and irresponsible dogma.


    Dr. issues warning about closing McFarland


    By DEAN OLSEN (dean.olsen@sj-r.com)
    THE STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER
    Posted Jun 10, 2009
    A state budget impasse that threatens to close McFarland Mental Health Center could result in clogged hospital emergency rooms in Springfield and more suicides, criminal activity and misery among the mentally ill, a local psychiatrist said Wednesday.

    “It would have an enormous impact on the availability of mental-health services in central and southern Illinois,” said Dr. Stephen Soltys, chairman of psychiatry at Springfield’s Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. “I have no idea how these people would get treatment.”

    State officials won’t say whether McFarland, a 118-bed, state-operated psychiatric hospital, has been targeted for closing. But the Illinois Department of Human Services is developing a plan for Gov. Pat Quinn to deal with an underfunded state budget passed by the General Assembly, department spokesman Tom Green said.

    Potential closures of state psychiatric hospitals and developmental centers “are part of the management plan,” Green said, without disclosing specific sites.

    State Sen. Larry Bomke, R-Springfield, said he doesn’t doubt the Democratic governor’s view that some institutions will have to close without new state revenue.

    Bomke said he is in the minority among Senate Republicans in supporting Quinn’s proposed 50 percent temporary income tax increase to help avoid the worst cuts. Quinn has suggested raising the individual rate from 3 percent to 4.5 percent.

    If lawmakers don’t support a tax increase, they need to go beyond suggesting “cutting waste and fat,” added Anders Lindall, spokesman for Council 31 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

    Lawmakers will have to take responsibility for what will be “devastating cuts” in services and thousands of layoffs of people inside and outside state government, Lindall said.

    McFarland, 901 Southwind Drive, opened in 1968. It employs 213 people and has an annual budget of $18 million.

    It primarily serves indigent men and women with severe mental illnesses. They stay an average of two months at a time. McFarland is full most of the time, according to Green.

    About 30 percent of the people cared for at McFarland are “forensic” patients, meaning they have been charged with crimes, found not guilty but mentally ill, or are being evaluated to determine if they are mentally able to stand trial.

    The facility includes a 15-bed section for juvenile boys who are in the court system.

    Both Memorial Medical Center and St. John’s Hospital operate inpatient psychiatric units, but those units typically serve patients needing shorter stays — up to two weeks, Soltys said.

    Those units also frequently are full, meaning patients often must be sent from Springfield emergency rooms to short-stay psychiatric units in Peoria, Bloomington-Normal and Champaign.

    Without McFarland, even more patients would be transferred out of town, and they might not be sent to facilities equipped for their needs, said Soltys, who has worked in Springfield since 2002 and was director of South Carolina’s mental-health department in the late 1990s.

    Mentally ill people typically aren’t violent when they are taking their medicine, not abusing drug or alcohol and receiving the treatment they need, Soltys said. But they can harm themselves and others when their illnesses are allowed to worsen.

    “These are vulnerable and underserved people as it is,” said Sandy Mollahan, director of St. John’s psychiatric program,

    The state-funded outpatient mental-health system in Illinois is underfunded and overburdened, Soltys said, and closing McFarland would simply put more patients into that system.

    “Right now we’re at the point where there’s no additional capacity, and that’s with McFarland open,” he said. “You can close McFarland, but the need will still be there.”

    Building up the outpatient system in Springfield and the rest of central Illinois to handle McFarland’s closure would take years and might require as much money as McFarland costs to operate, he said.

    In the meantime, people without adequate mental health services would add to the area’s homeless population, and more of them would end up in county jails, Soltys said.

    “To me, you’re passing the costs to the legal system,” he said.

    Dean Olsen can be reached at 788-1543.

    Sojourn sounds alarm

    Sojourn Shelter and Services officials warned Wednesday that the state budget passed by the General Assembly would force the anti-domestic violence agency to close half of its shelter beds and suspend its victim response team.

    In a news release, Sojourn officials said the results are likely to include:

    * Reducing the number of Sojourn’s emergency shelter beds from 32 to 16.

    * Suspending its 911 victim response team

    * Reducing court advocate services in rural counties

    * Reducing counseling and support staff.

    Sojourn expects that the cuts would reduce or eliminate services to more than 450 adult and child victims, the statement said.

    “As the economy has struggled, Sojourn has received increased requests for our services. Unfortunately, there is no doubt that victims, most of whom are women and children, will suffer greatly if these cuts are made,” Tami Silverman, Sojourn's CEO said in a statement. “We remain hopeful that our community will send a clear message to the General Assembly that we can do better than balancing the budget by cutting services to crime victims.”


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