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Testimony: Coalition for the Responsible Closure of Mayview State Hospital

The following link will allow you to read testimony from the Coalition for the Responsible Closure of Mayview State Hospital, on April 3, 2008 before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, at the Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, Pittsburgh, PA.  The testimony was presented by Carol Horowitz, Managing Attorney, Pittsburgh Disability Rights Network of PA, on behalf of the coalition.


This testimony pertains to the closure of Mayview and the impact it has on the communities served by Mayview along with information about safety nets that have been put in place to ensure that Consumers don’t fall through crack once they are discharged into the community.

Stop the ammendment of HB1448

  I have received information regarding HB1448 that if it isn’t stopped could cause chaos in regards to the closure of Mayview State Hospital.  It has been brought to my attention that Rep. Kathy Rapp is attempting to get an ammendment added to HB1448 for a moratorium on mental illness among Pennsylvania inmates.  If this ammendment is added, it will bring the closure of Mayview to a screeching halt, which will in turn leave many Consumers in limbo.

  Many studies have been done on the impact of the closure of Mayview State Hospital on the communities it serves.  There have also been studies done with regards to mental illness among inmates.  Testimony regarding the impact on communities, explainiing what measures have been taken to transition Consumers as smoothly as possible from Mayview State Hospital into the community.  In short there are safety nets in place to keep these folks from falling through the cracks of the community based mental health system.

The Coalition for the Responsible Closure of Mayview State Hospital has stated the following according to imformation I received from Carol Horowitz, Managing Attorney, Pittsburgh Disability Rights Network of PA

We oppose any moratorium that disrupts the process already in progress at Mayview State Hospital.  Such an amendment would prevent the Governor and Department of Public Welfare from securing funds to develop community alternatives in order to comply with the Commonwealth’s legal obligations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and would leave hundreds of individuals in a nether world of transition”

I may have more detailed information, but I need to check to make sure it’s ok for me to post it here before adding more.  In the meantime, I would encourage EVERYONE, especially those in the counties directly effected by the closure of Mayview, to contact Rep. Kathy Rapp of the 65th District to let her know that you OPPOSE a moratorium of this nature, and that you want HB1448 to be passed without being ammended.

Contact information for Rep. Kathy Rapp can be found on her website at …

See how Warren County has voted in the PA primary

  This isn’t really a mental health related post, but I thought that it might be interesting to someone somewhere to find out how Warren County is voting in the primary.


One person I’m personally interested in watching with regards to the 65th district, is the race between Rapp and Gern for state house representative.  Bothe are Republicans, but I’m hoping that Kathy Rapp wins re-election because she’s very passionate about improving the mental health system Gern has been spending most of their campaign trying to discount Rapp, and basically slinging mud, so I don’t know much about what Gern really stands for.  Kathy on the other hand has been very public about things she’s been working on and also things she has accomplished while she has been in office, which include support for Millitary Vets, the elderly, disabled, and also has spearheaded a push to try and get a morotorium done on mental illness among inmates.  She’s very family oriented, and from what I’ve seen seems to advocate for the underdog.

  My interest in Kathy Rapp is one reason I posted this, but I’m sure everyone has their own views on things, which is cool.

Smart Voter

This is a little late for the primary, but you can lookup who is on the ballots in miost counties.  Would be worth looking at to be a little better informed about local races …..


Smart Voter
Get your ballot!

Street Address:

Zip Code:

Your address is confidential.

From the League of Women Voters of California


Important Service Area Planning Meeting Update

I received an email from Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumer Association (PMHCA) on Tuesday, April 15, 2008, containing the information included below about Service Area Planning  meetings.  I don’t know what information has changed, so be sure to check to see what if anything has changed with regards to your Service Area Planning meetings.

Changes have been made to the schedule of remaining OMHSAS Service Area Planning (SAP) meetings.  The most up-to-date information is listed below.  You are welcome to share this information with your networks.



OMHSAS SERVICE AREA PLANNING (SAP) MEETINGS Dates, Locations, and RSVP Contact Information


Thursday, April 17 – Torrance State Hospital  1:00-3:30 p.m.

Westmoreland County Community College Amphitheatre Founders Hall, 1st Floor

Parking: available in Student Parking Lot

Contact: Holly Gallardy, 724-459-4411


Friday, April 18 – Mayview State Hospital  1:00-3:00 p.m.

Radisson Hotel Pittsburgh – Greentree in the North/South Ballroom.

Contact: Dorothy Owens, 412-257-6201


Tuesday, April 22 – Danville State Hospital  10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Administration Building, Program Activity Center – 1st floor

Parking: Is available in front of Administration Building and a side parking lot, parking will be marked for anyone not familiar with the campus.

Contact: Louise Miller, 570-271-4510


Monday, May 5 – Warren State Hospital  10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Gymnasium located in the Center (Main) Building

Parking: will be in the South Center Parking lot. Signs will be placed to designate it. Additionally, security personnel will be available to direct people.

Contact: Mary Beth Zdarko, 814-726-4258


Wednesday, May 7 – Allentown State Hospital  10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Administration Building Boardroom on the ASH campus

Parking: will be available in front of the building in Lot A

Contact: Tiffany Hudock, 610-740-3400


Thursday, May 15 – Clarks Summit State Hospital  10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Hilton Scranton Conference Center, 100 Adams Avenue, Scranton, PA 18503

Parking: available in Hilton Parking Lot

Contact: Sharon Grasso, 570-587-7250

“Walker reveals struggles with mental disorder in just-released book”

   Before you read this, I wanted to let you know that I do realize this isn’t specific to Pennsylvania, but for me it’s rather personal in that I happen to have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), and I found it inspiring to know that someone was a successful athlete and in many ways a public figure yet they had DID, and still succeeded.  I’m not much of a football fan, but as I said I found this article to be inspiring, and hope that others will read this article with the understanding that having DID is very challenging, and some have said is comparable in regards to degree of seriousness to Schizophrenina, yet unlike Schizophrenia, DID is also has a high degree of success when it comes to treatment and the ability of people to overcome it.  I still have a lot of struggles with DID, but with each passing day I gain better control over my illness and am reaching beyond the limitations I experience.  So I hope that even those who don’t have DID can appreciate the fact that Walker was able to be a success despite having a serious mental illness which I think should be encouraging to anyone no matter what kind of struggles or mental illness they may have.

Walker reveals struggles with mental disorder in

just-released book

In a “Nightline” interview that will air Monday on ABC, the 46-year-old Walker said he has been in treatment for eight years and believes the disorder is under control, adding that writing the book was therapeutic for him.

“I’ve totally changed from back then to where I am today,” he said. Details of the interview appear in a story on ABCNews.com. It is not clear at what point in his life Walker believes he had the disorder.

Following a Heisman Trophy-winning career at the University of Georgia, Walker spent three seasons in the USFL and then played 12 years in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings, Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. He also was a member of the 1992 U.S. Olympic bobsled team, with an array of other interests that included ballet and law enforcement.

After his retirement from football in 1997, Walker said the disorder began to overwhelm him. At one point, while sitting in his kitchen, he said he played Russian roulette with a loaded pistol.

“To challenge death like I was doing, you start saying, there’s a problem here,” Walker told ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff.

DID, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is described as a relatively rare mental condition where a person has two or more distinct personalities. The disorder has been dismissed by some in the medical field.

“Nightline” interviewed Walker’s therapist, Jerry Mungadze, who said he met Walker’s alternate personalities, or “alters,” during their sessions.

“They will come out and say, I am so-and-so. I’m here to tell you Herschel is not doing too good,” Mungadze said. ” … When he finishes, it would just disappear back in him, and Herschel comes out.”

Walker and his ex-wife, Cindy Grossman, were married for 16 years before she knew about his illness, she said.

“Well, now it makes perfect sense, because each personality has a different interest,” Grossman told “Nightline.” “This one has an interest in ballet, this one has an interest in the Marines, this one had an interest [in the] FBI, this one had an interest in sports.

“There was also a very sweet, lovable [personality]. That’s the one he told me I married. He told me I didn’t marry Herschel,” said Grossman, who later in the interview recalled a conversation with Walker, “and the next thing I knew, he just kind of raged and he got a gun and put it to my temple.”

When the topic of the book was revealed in January, Walker’s father — as well as a former teammate and Vince Dooley, Walker’s coach at Georgia — met the revelation with shock.

“I know him better than anybody ’cause I raised him,” Willis Walker Sr. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time. “This is my first knowing about that.”

Walker said he hoped “Breaking Free” will help change the public’s image of DID and help others afflicted with the disorder.

“DID is not ‘Sybil’ or ‘Three Faces of Eve.’ DID is just an illness that people are dealing with,” he said. In the book, he wrote, “I feel the greatest achievement of my life will be to tell the world my truth.”

“New psychiatric care centers lack wide-open spaces of Mayview”


New psychiatric care centers lack wide-open spaces of Mayview
Monday, April 14, 2008

For local residents who need lengthy psychiatric care, the most likely option is no longer Mayview State Hospital, but a locked unit at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Patients who might have strolled alone around Mayview’s aging buildings and spacious grounds are instead being sent to Western Psychiatric’s 30-bed extended acute care unit, part of a 289-bed inpatient complex. Patients can’t leave the unit on their own during their stays, but can participate in supervised outings. Most stay about six months.

The lengthy stays in the congested heart of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Oakland campus have raised concerns from some advocates, mindful of the relatively pastoral setting at Mayview.

The care should be provided in smaller facilities “on green property,” where patients could earn the right to go out unaccompanied, said Dick Jevon, a volunteer for NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania. Those settings should be less stressful for patients, said Mr. Jevon, who has a family member with mental illness.

There is plenty of green space at Mayview, which the state Department of Public Welfare plans to close by the end of the year. The sprawling South Fayette hospital is typical of a largely bygone era when most patients were cared for in large institutions, often with expansive grounds.

State officials say they are working to address advocates’ concerns, in part by preparing draft guidelines that stipulate patients should have “access to adequate outdoor space.”

Western Psychiatric’s extended acute care unit, known as the transitional recovery unit, or TRU, opened in August 2006. The unit is the first of its kind in the area, though officials have plans for several others.

They include a facility in Allegheny County of up to 16 beds that won’t be based at a hospital.

Plans also call for two other extended care units serving Beaver, Lawrence, Washington or Greene counties, the other counties served by Mayview. One of them would tentatively be based at another hospital, Heritage Valley Beaver.

Heritage Valley has received notice it is the recommended provider, though details are still being discussed, said Rose Nolan, the hospital’s chief operating officer. Officials also are discussing management of the 10-bed extended care unit by Western Psychiatric, which already manages the Beaver hospital’s 22-bed acute inpatient unit, she said.Three other extended acute care units operate in the Harrisburg area and two more are in Philadelphia. They, too, were developed in response to state hospital closings. All but one are in hospitals.

Western Psychiatric’s TRU generally doesn’t serve patients leaving Mayview. Most of those patients are moving to group homes or other community settings.

Instead, the unit’s patients typically come from acute psychiatric units in community hospitals. They need more care and formerly would have gone to Mayview, which hasn’t taken new admissions for non-forensic patients since November. The hospital’s forensic unit evaluates and treats people in the criminal justice system.

Officials acknowledged certain advantages in creating the hospital-based extended care units.

Hospitals offer a ready source of inpatient psychiatric beds. Psychiatric and other medical care are readily available. And opening a new unit is unlikely to prompt the not-in-my-back-yard neighborhood response that often accompanies the planned opening of community-based facilities serving people with mental illness.

Officials emphasized that extended acute care involves active treatment aimed at getting patients back to community living as soon as possible.

“I don’t know many who would say, ‘Mayview is nicer,’ ” said Joan Erney, deputy secretary for the state Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

Still, patients there have more independence in some ways than those at the TRU.

Of 178 patients still at Mayview early last month who were not in the forensic unit, 106 were allowed to go out unsupervised on the hospital grounds. Among other activities, they could take walks and visit the drop-in center, the library, the gift shop or “various gazebos and green spaces on the property,” said Stacey Witalec, a welfare department spokeswoman.

Officials know of six patients since 2006 who left the hospital property while on grounds privileges. All were returned “without any serious consequences,” she said.

Ms. Erney acknowledged that lengthy hospitalization in extended acute care units could be challenging for patients, but said the state hopes to keep average stays to about six months.

“Nothing in the immediate future” suggests the state will close its other seven hospitals for people with mental illness, she said.

“But I do think that extended acute care is our future,” she said, noting the units would be part of a range of services offered to patients.

Kimberly Owens, Western Psychiatric’s vice president for inpatient and emergency services, said officials have worked hard to compensate for the TRU’s lack of green space.

Unlike patients on short-term psychiatric units, where the average stay is 15 days, patients in extended acute care are encouraged to go out for daily walks, movies and other outings, including picnics in warm weather, she said.

“Many times, I’m driving home and I see some of our folks walking down the street, just going for a walk in Oakland.”

Patients also go on supervised outings outside Oakland and can receive passes for overnight visits with relatives, or at the group homes or other community settings where they may live once they’re released.

Staff members also work with patients to help them learn community living skills like using an automatic teller machine, shopping and money management. The unit’s staff includes several “peers” ?? others with mental illness who can provide support and guidance to patients.

Demand for the unit’s services has been strong since it opened with nine beds, then expanded to 15 beds last summer, Dr. Owens said.

“In January, at the county’s and state’s request, we expanded to the 30 beds and began taking referrals from other counties,” she said.

“We filled the beds within a week and we’re back to having a waiting list now.”

Officials for some extended acute care units attributed their lengthy stays, in part, to a shortage of community housing options for people with mental illness.

In Philadelphia, as at Western Psychiatric, the two extended care units remain full, with waiting lists. They were developed in response to the closure of Philadelphia State Hospital in 1990.

After acquiring Neumann Medical Center and its 40-bed extended acute care unit, the Temple University Health System moved the unit to its Episcopal campus in 2003 and added four beds, said Doris Quiles, the system’s behavioral health director.

The average length of stay is about six months, though that can vary because the facility usually has several hard-to-place patients that can remain for two or three years, said Dr. William Dubin, Episcopal’s chief medical officer.

Accompanied by staff, patients can go outside three times a day in an enclosed recreation area or take walks around the campus, Ms. Quiles said. They also can go off campus with family members or some of their care managers.

A couple of miles away, a 22-bed extended care unit at Girard Medical Center serves people with mental illness and substance abuse problems. The average length of stay is about four months, “though we do have patients that stay longer because they’re hard to place,” said Dr. Miles Ladenheim, the hospital’s chairman of behavioral medicine.

Recreation is limited, he said, though patients can go out several times a day to an outdoor courtyard. They also can go on outings on a case-by-case basis.

Ms. Erney said a shortage of appropriate community housing has contributed to the long stays, along with limited access to state hospital beds.

“We were surprised we had the issue to the extent we did,” she said of the lengthy stays, noting a team is working on the issue.

Three other extended care units were opened in response to the closing of Harrisburg State Hospital in 2006.

Philhaven, a nonprofit behavioral health service agency, opened a 12-bed extended acute care facility in Lebanon County in July 2005 that has since increased to 16 beds, said Jennifer Miller, nurse manager. Patients have recreational opportunities and can go out on the hospital grounds on their own if they are close to being released.

Holy Spirit Hospital in Camp Hill opened its extended acute care unit in November 2005, said Frank Mirillo, clinical operations coordinator for the hospital’s behavioral health center. Patients in the 12-bed unit can go outside for recreation or outings with a staff person present, he said. The average length of stay is three months.

The state’s first non-hospital-based extended acute care unit opened in York County in July 2006. The 16-bed facility, located in a converted warehouse along with an outpatient clinic and a crisis diversion residential service, is staffed by nurses, therapists, a part-time physician and other mental health professionals. The unit works with two local hospitals to meet patients’ other medical needs.

Patients can take advantage of an exercise room, vocational training, an arts and crafts area equipped with a kiln, and a vegetable garden and greenhouse, said Lindy Coder, regional director of project development for NHS Human Services, developer and operator of the facility. They also can go on community outings.

The average length of stay is about seven months, though one patient stayed a year and five months, officials said.

Joe Fahy can be reached at jfahy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.
First published on April 14, 2008 at 12:00 am

I Expanded on a Website of mine

  I was working hard on a relatively new site of mine last night and this morening.  It still needs some work, but I’m happy to announce my “Mental Health Resources” website.  Even though it’s a work in progress, it offers primarily links to resources about various diagnosis andother information relating to mental health.

  you can visit “Mental Health Resources” at … http://mysite.verizon.net/vzet3ssr/jmh/

  You can also visit it by clicking on the link listed in the Blogroll as “Mental Health Resources”

  I plan on adding my own text descriptions of the links I’ve included along with some pictures to dress things up a bit as time goes on.

“Mayview hearing: Money from sale should stay here, senator declares”

This article found in The Gateway Newspaper can be found in its original format at … http://www.gatewaynewspapers.com/signalitem/93999/    it talks about what should happen with any money that comes from the sale of Mayview State Hospital.

Mayview hearing: Money from sale should stay here, senator declares

By David Mayernik Jr., Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Mayview State Hospital in Bridgeville is still on track to close by the end of the year.

State Sen. Jim Ferlo (D-Pittsburgh) wants to ensure that money generated from the sale of the 335-acre property stays in the community.

In conjunction with a state Senate Democratic policy committee hearing last Thursday morning in Pittsburgh City Council chambers, Ferlo announced he has introduced legislation that would redirect funds to other community mental health facilities.

“Every sale dollar should help those who rely on mental health care services,” he said. 

Under the proposal, proceeds of any mental health facility would be deposited into one of two accounts, the mental health community services account or the mental retardation community services account.

Last August, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare announced plans to close clinical services of the civil section of Mayview by Dec. 31.

Last week’s committee hearing focused on how the hospital’s closure will affect patients and staff members.

“This is a high-impact issue,” said Ferlo.

Department of Public Welfare secretary Estelle Richman said there are currently six wards open at the hospital. The next could close this month.

Following a series of assessments, patients at Mayview are being placed in group homes, public housing or with family members.

Those in need of continuing treatment could be transferred to another hospital.

Since the closure announcement, approximately 80 patients have been discharged from Mayview, leaving 160 people still to be placed.

Richman anticipates that they will be discharged from June through Dec. 31.

“But no one will be removed from Mayview Hospital unless we can ensure their safe transition,” she said.

Mayview State Hospital, which treats patients with mental illnesses, serves 225 individuals from Allegheny, Beaver, Lawrence, Greene and Washington counties.

State officials said Mayview’s closing is part of Pennsylvania’s commitment to reduce its reliance on institutional care and improve access to home and community-based services.

Ferlo said he would like to see a redevelopment group involved in the land re-use task force so that issues of community housing can be addressed.

“I really think we can look at this as an opportunity and meet the challenge.”

The task force — which includes state Sen. John Pippy and state Rep. Nick Kotik — was formed to help guide the future of the facility.

“Send Mayview sale funds to other facilities: Ferlo”

 This article was originally found in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on April 2, 2008 and can be found in it’s original format at …. http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/cityregion/s_560158.html

Send Mayview sale funds to other facilities: Ferlo
A bill introduced Tuesday by state Sen. Jim Ferlo would require that money generated from the sale of Mayview State Hospital be used for other community mental health services and facilities.Ferlo, a Highland Park Democrat, said he believes it’s important to determine where the money would go before the South Fayette hospital — or any mental health facility — closes.

Ferlo proposes depositing money from the sale of mental health facilities into the Mental Health Community Services Account or the Mental Retardation Community Services Account.

The state House is considering a similar bill, he said.
The Senate Democratic Policy Committee will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, fifth floor of the City-County Building, Downtown, to discuss the impact of Mayview’s pending closure on patients and staff.

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