Thursday, April 3, 2008

State Senate Hearing On Mental Hospital Closing

Pennsylvania is downsizing it's mental illness institutions, and Mayview State Hospital in Bridgeville is next. Today, the Senate Democratic Policy Committee heard from the Department of Public Welfare, county agencies, and community leaders about the anticipated impact.
DPW Secretary Estelle Richman testified that community-based care is more effective than institutional, and there will be many new support services in place to take care of patients in group homes, public housing, and other living arrangements. She pointed to Harrisburg and Philadelphia closings that she says were handled successfully as models for this one. They are able to track those leaving the system and make sure they get the care they need, but a problem lies in treating the mentally ill who would have otherwise entered Mayview.

Patricia Valentine of Allegheny county's Office of Behavioral Health says they're coming up with a "Single Point Accountability" system, where patients will have one person to contact for any need they may have in the system. Valentine says that's how new patients will enter the system as well, and they're trying to educate communities more on how to seek help.
Mark Fatla of the Northside Leadership Council testified to the dangers of a poor replacement system- mentally ill with nowhere else to go as homeless or "churned through" the criminal justice system. He supports the transfer plans and conversations between neighbors and new community service housing.
Mayview serves 225 patients from Allegheny, Lawrence, Green, Beaver, and Washington counties.

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