SOUTHFIELD, Mich., Feb. 7 -- In reaction to Governor Engler's announcement yesterday that he planned to close State psychiatric hospital programs in Detroit, Kalamazoo and Pontiac, three mental health advocacy organizations expressed shock at the plan and have asked the Governor to meet with them at the Mental Health Building in Southfield.
The Alliance for the Mentally Ill/Michigan, the Mental Health Association in Michigan, and the Michigan Association for Children with Emotional Disorders released the following statement today, Friday, February 7, 1997: "Yesterday's announcement that Governor Engler plans to close Detroit Psychiatric Institute, Clinton Valley Center in Pontiac and the children's program at Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital came as a shock to us because neither citizen groups nor professional associations were informed of these decisions or invited to comment on them."
Ray Gauthier, President of the Alliance for the Mentally ill, said: "The Governor and his Community Health Director Jim Haveman constantly talk about 'community and citizen involvement.' There was no involvement here." The statement continued: "The Governor's argument for previous hospital closings, Lafayette Clinic in 1992 for example, was that the private sector and community mental health boards are available as equivalent replacement service providers. "This argument was questioned then and continues to be the subject of enormous debate. Nonetheless, Michigan's community mental health system is overburdened and underfunded, facts that seem indisputable. If his plan envisions transferring patients to other hospitals only, will such transfers far from home eliminate family involvement in the patient's treatment, the cornerstone to modern-day psychiatric care?"
Samuel L. Davis, Executive Director of the Michigan Association for Children with Emotional Disorders, said: "The State's argument that there is a declining census at its children's hospitals is a deliberate attempt to misrepresent the true situation. The mental health system refuses to hospitalize children who desperately need in-patient care simply to save money. They close the door and then say, 'look, nobody's inside, let's close the place.'" The statement continued: "We are inviting Governor Engler to meet with our three groups in an attempt to understand his reasoning and to provide him with information that he may not possess.
We hope that Mr. Haveman will participate as well because we know the Governor relies on him. We would like to discuss the following questions: 1). Does the Administration believe that the community mental health system has the resources needed to provide alternative care for the residents of the programs being closed, whether for children or for adults? 2). Are there plans in the private sector that will increase mental health resources in Michigan and in the metropolitan Detroit area? and 3). Is the "declining census," cited as the rationale for the hospital closings, real or a self-fulfilling strategy?
There are hundreds of thousands of Michigan citizens personally affected by serious mental illness in Michigan. Governor Engler is their Governor, too. On their behalf, we look forward to a thoughtful dialogue with the Governor on this matter." Tom Sovine, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association in Michigan, said: "We are inviting the Governor to meet with us at the Mental Health Building in Southfield at his earliest convenience. The Mental Health Building houses a number of citizen and professional groups devoted to the well-being of persons with mental illness. We feel it is an appropriate setting for a meeting of this importance." The text of a letter from Gauthier, Davis and Sovine to Governor Engler follows:
"We are deeply concerned about the plan announced yesterday to close the Detroit Psychiatric Institute, Clinton Valley Center in Pontiac and the children's in-patient unit at Kalamazoo Regional Psychiatric Hospital. "As you know, our three statewide organizations represent the hopes and desires of thousands of Michigan residents devoted to the needs of those suffering from mental illness, both children and adults.
On their behalf, we would very much appreciate an opportunity to speak with you about this new plan of hospital closings. It is our desire to have a frank discussion that addresses the following questions: "1. Is it the Administration's belief that the community mental health system has sufficient resources to provide alternative services for those who will be affected by the closings? "2. Are there private sector plans, of which we are unaware, that will add needed mental health services either in western Michigan or in the greater Detroit area? and "3. Is the argument that these hospitals are experiencing a decline in census a valid argument? "We know that you rely on the judgment of Department of Community Health Director Jim Haveman on these matters and would welcome his participation in our discussion. We invite the two of you to meet with us at your earliest convenience at the Mental Health Building in Southfield. The Mental Health Building houses citizen and professional organizations devoted to the best interests of persons with mental illness and is an appropriate setting for a meeting of this importance."
SOURCE Michigan Association for Children With Emotional Disorders -0- 02/07/97 /CONTACT: Ray Gauthier, President of Alliance for the Mentally Ill, 810-989-6476; Samuel L. Davis, Executive Director for Michigan Association for Children with Emotional Disorders, 810-552-0044; or Tom M. Sovine, Executive Director, Mental Health Association in Michigan, 810-557-6777/
CO: Michigan Association for Children With Emotional Disorders ST: Michigan IN: HEA SU:
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