• Categories

“Federal suit says state provides inadequate mental health care”

Article Link

This December 1, 2015 article by Joe Smydo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette talks about a federal lawsuit being filed by the Disability Rights Network against the Pennsylvania Dept. of Human Services citing inadequate mental health care as the reason for the suit.  Warren State Hospital, Torrance State Hospital and Mifflin County Jail are where the 3 people the suit focuses on are located.

“Conference tackles mental health issues: Treatment or incarceration”

storeroom

storeroom (Photo credit: suttonhoo)

 

 

Article Link

 

This April 19, 2013 article found on the Warren Times-Observer website talks about a conference recently held at the Interfaith Chapel on the Warren State Hospital grounds.  Based on the article it seems like the conference was for getting mental health providers and corrections related employees into the same room to discus what’s broken and what can be done to fix it in regards to the situation where corrections facilities are holding more and more inmates with mental health issues. Many questions were raised in the article.

 

While I’m encouraged to see these folks sitting down and talking to each other, I am concerned that there is one group that may have been overlooked.  The group I have in mind is the people who will be effected by any decisions made by the professionals who attended this meeting.  That group being the folks who receive services from these agencies.  I know Beacon Light has a Consumer Advisory board, so I suspect there is a chance that Beacon Light will at some point be including the folks they serve, but what about the other agencies represented, will they too include representative of the people they serve?

 

 

 

2013 is here and so is my yearly post about what I hope to accomplish :)

For the past few years, I’ve posted a sort of to-do list of things I want to work on or accomplish in some way over the coming year.  This year is no exception, though I admit I usually have this done by December 31 of the previous year, so I’m running a little behind compliments of starting the year out with a cold and not feeling up to doing much of anything beyond sleeping and sniffling.  Today is the first day in about a week I’ve felt something nearly human, so I thought I would work on my list for the coming year and see what I can come up with.

  • Continue my quest to lose weight yeah I know a stereotypical resolution, but it’s something I’ve been working on for the past year and am making some slow progress, I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the past year, and hope that by next year I can lose another 30 pounds maybe a little more, but not so much that I’m losing it at an unhealthy rate.
  • In conjunction with my weight loss goal, I want to reach a point where I need to buy some new clothes because my existing clothes are too big for me.
  • I would also like to work on something that I haven’t been able to do in a long time, because of anxiety issues.  I want to see if I can get to where I can ride the bus on my own again.  I know to some it may seem like one of those things some would say why is that a goal you just go stand at the bus stop and when the bus arrives you get on ride to your destination and get off, what’s the big deal?  well, for me, my anxiety disorder has prevented me from riding it, because I feel trapped and by the time I get to where I need to go I’m so anxious that I find it almost impossible to do whatever it is I rode the bus to go do.  I rely heavily on other people to get me from place to place, and I want to be more independent if I can and I think that working on riding the bus and finding ways to make that doable for me would be a huge step in the right direction.  I have a Peer Specialist and I think it’s something she could help me work on, she just doesn’t know I’ve considered this yet, so I think she’ll be impressed that I’m even thinking about it.
  • I would like to work on my research project more than I have been.  I started researching the history of Warren State Hospital, a couple of years ago, and over the past 6 months that project has been on the shelf gathering dust for the most part, so I would like to try to work on it at least one day per month this year, more if I feel inclined to but my basic goal is one day per month.
  • With the latest school shooting, I have seen a huge increase in the stigma people have towards me as someone with a mental illness.  The media found out the shooter had Autism and since then the myth about mental illness and violence has been magnified about a thousand times greater than it was prior to the shooting.  I use a Psychiatric Service Dog to help me manage my anxiety, depression, and help with medication reminders.  Someone who seemed genuinely interested in service dogs was talking to me and very friendly until they asked what type of work my service dog did.  When I said she is a Psychiatric Service Dog the person literally had a look of panic on her face and she took 2 steps back away from me, then told me she was “in a hurry”.  So this goal stems from that experience.  I want to find creative ways to help people realize that not every person with a mental illness is violent or should be criminalized because of the actions of a  very small minority.  I’ve had other similar experiences like the one I described but until the recent shooting they were scarce, now it seems like all I have to do is say I have an anxiety disorder and people flee.  I want to be a diplomat and try to help people realize that Lanza wasn’t like the majority of people with mental illnesses.  I don’t know exactly how I will do this, but it is my hope that I can leave a positive impact on the people I come in contact with when I’m out running errands and that maybe I can help at least one person realize that I’m not a criminal because someone else messed up.
  • My last goal for the coming year is to write and publish at least one article per month over the coming year.  The topic doesn’t matter, it could be an opinion paper on how red the tomatoes are in my grocery store, or something more serious like a tribute to someone who means a lot to me. Pretty much any topic will be fair game, I just need to have it published by the end of each month.

Those are things I hope to work on or do this year.  most items will not be finished at the end of 2013, but I hope to be able to show something that demonstrates I made progress on them.  The weight will be easy to measure, while the stigma related goal will be a lot tougher to measure, for it I think I’ll simply have to document responses I get from people I come in contact with and hope its a fair gauge of what is really happening with that issue.  I may use my writing goal to help with the stigma goal, and maybe write a letter to the editor about what it’s like to have a mental illness since the latest school shooting.  The bus goal is probably going to be my most challenging goal in that I haven’t ridden the fixed route bus in probably 3 or 4 years, and for me any change in routine even if it is a positive change can throw me for a loop, so While I’m hoping I can carry out the bus goal, I’m scared out of my mind of that one.

 

Is Warren State next on the chopping block?

I came across an article this morning that mentions  the “pending closure” of WSH being a major issue for Crawford County.  I am digging for other references to this, but haven’t found anything yet to confirm this, but I thought it was worth mentioning here since it was rumors like this that preceded the closure of both Allentown State Hospital and Mayview State Hospital

I have included the excerpt below from the Meadville Tribune dated May 31, 2011

http://meadvilletribune.com/local/x564434592/Weindorf-takes-over-as-Human-Services-boss

May 31, 2011

Weindorf takes over as Human Services boss

By Jane Smith Meadville Tribune

“Another major issue facing Crawford County is the pending closure of Warren State Hospital, where clients with severe mental illness reside for treatment. Crawford County has 10 clients in that hospital. Once the hospital is closed, the county is responsible for finding suitable housing. Weindorf said some can be transferred to another state hospital, but many are expected to return to Crawford County.”

Music And Humor Helps Lift Spirits – post-journal.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information – Jamestown | Post-Journal

Music And Humor Helps Lift Spirits – post-journal.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information – Jamestown | Post-Journal.

This was found in the November 3, 2010 edition of the Jamestown Post-Journal (Jamestown, NY)  I liked the letter and since these folks have gone into Warren State Hospital, despite being from New York state, I felt it was something worth sharing here since it does in my opinion demonstrate how someone who happens to have a disability can still bring a smile to the face of others who are struggling.

For those wondering where Jamestown is, it’s along the NY/PA state line about 30 minutes from Warren, PA it’s not unusual for folks from Jamestown area to come to Warren to shop and for folks from Warren to shop in Jamestown so it’s what some may call a “border town” to PA.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Forensic Unit now officially closed – TimesObserver.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information – The Times Observer

Forensic Unit now officially closed – TimesObserver.com

The link above will take you to an article found in the Saturday, October 30, 2010 edition of the Warren Times-Observer.

It indicates that the closing of the Warren State Hospital Forensic Unit is completed the last client left on Thursday and the remaining unit staff left on Friday.

Deal struck for Forensic Unit workers – TimesObserver.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information – The Times Observer

Deal struck for Forensic Unit workers – TimesObserver.com

The above link will take you to an article found in the Warren Times Observer on October 14, 2010.  It indicates that negotiations have resulted in job promises as they become available for those currently employeed at Warren State Hospital’s Forensic Unit which is slated to close at the end of this month.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

A walk down history lane

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joe_Root_(Pennsylvania)

The above link,  is to a page in Wikipedia about a man named Joe Root who spent some time living off the land in Erie, PA on Presque Isle.  By now you may be wondering why I’m including this here since it seems like it wouldn’t apply to the general topic of this blog.  Well, it kind of does apply.  Joe Root, from what little I’ve read about him, apparently was an entertainer, and kids loved his ventrilloqy.  Aside from entertaining children, it seems that Joe Root was a bit of a dreamer and came up with ideas like starting a feather factory among other ideas that others would listen to but seemed to find them o be more amusing then anything.  I don’t know what kind of violence occurred, but some say that Joe Root was actually the victim of it some speculate it was to prevent him from collecting squater’s rights on Presque Isle.  The details of the incident that I’ve found have been more like implied statements then anything, but they do indicate that because of this vaguely described violance, Joe Root was sent to Warren State Hospital in Warren, PA.  He spent the rest of his life there from the sounds of things but was said to have repeatedly asked to return to his home on Presque Isle.

So when did this occurr?  well based on Wikipedia, He lived on Presque Isle in the early 1900’s and was comitted to Warren State Hospital then known as “The State Hospital for the Insane at Warren, PA”  the name was later changed to Warren Stae Hospital sometime around 1920 if memory serves me right.  Anyway, Joe Root was committed there and died in 1912.

I guess my reason for sharingthis, is to give folks an idea of how in many ways there has been some if not a lot of progress in how folks with mental illnesses are treated today compared to then in the early days of Warren State.  at that time people could be sent to a state hospital for just about any reason that anyone else thought made the person being comitted seem to not conform to society and while Joe Root seems like the kind of guy we might refer to as eccentric today, at the time, something occurred and someone didn’t agree with what happened probably claimed he was insane (using terminology for the time period) and under the authority of one person like a doctor, law enforcement or anyone that had any kind of authority he was sent to Warren State where I’m guessing he died since he died in 1912 just 2 years after he arrived at Warren State.  Today it takes a team of people to have someone admitted to a state hospital, and in the current goal is to have the person ready for discharge in roughly 6 months to a year.  Today, Joe Root would have needed to have been evaluated by a physician, and met certain criteria before he could have been admitted to Warren State.   There is a lot more to the process, but there are more steps and criteria that need to be taken and met then there once was.

For folks who are in the mental health system receiving treatment, yes, there are many changes occurring and  yes at this pointstate hospitals still exist, but to be sent to one isn’t as easy as it once was, and length of stay is much shorter on average then it was at the time that Joe Root was comitted.

I will close by saying that yes, treatment is better for folks with mental illnesses then it once was, but at the same time as with anything, I feel there is always room for improvement.

Disclaimer:  While I am currently researching the History of Warren State Hospital, I have many questions left unanswered and Joe Root is just one piece of the puzzle.  I do not intend this blog entry to be a precise or complete history, but rather a summary of things I’ve been reading about and some of my own thoughts based on experiences I have had in my own life.  In short this is an opinion post based on many pieces of information.  The information about Joe Root mostly came from Wikipedia, but some of what I said in regards to what the process of him ending up at Warren state is purely speculation based on my limited knowledge of how the system functioned at that time.  I welcome any information anyone wants to send my way, and to be honest am really kind of intrigued with Joe Root’s story so he is someone I’m looking further into. 

Enhanced by Zemanta

“Prison board reviews policies”

http://www.theprogressnews.com/default.asp?read=23872

Below is an excerpt I found in the Friday Sept. 10, 2010 issue of “TheProgress, it doesn’t say a lot, but it does indicate possible changes to how inmates are assessed after the impending closing of the Forensic unit at Warren State Hospital.  the full artical can be viewed at the link included at the beginning of this bllog entry.

The board learned that the Regional Forensic Psychiatric Centers at Warren State Hospital and Torrance State Hospital will consolidate. According to Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., this could mean that a team from the hospital would come to Clearfield County to evaluate inmates rather than having them transported.

Enhanced by Zemanta

“Forensic Fight”

http://www.timesobserver.com/page/content.detail/id/535142.html?nav=5006

This article found in the Warren Times-Observer on September 6, 2010 indicates that while time seems to be running out, the fight to keep the forensic unit at Warren State open is being waged with tenacity.  While the Union Leader fights to keep the unit open, he is also working to ensure that if their efforts fail in keeping the unit open, as many of the27 forensic security employees will be able to acquire other positio.  It sounds to me like the stance is that he is hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.  Petitions have been available for signing all over the Warren area I can only hope their efforts aren’t in vein.

Union leader in tough spot

By BRIAN FERRY bferry@timesobserver.com

POSTED: September 6, 2010

Article Photos

//

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry
Forensic unit petition
A man signed a petition Friday to keep the Warren State Hospital forensic unit open at the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association (PSCOA) canopy in front of the Sill House in Warren. PSCOA members have collected more than 1,500 signatures and plan to set up the canopy in Sugar Grove and Youngsville during the coming week.

//

The president of Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association Local SI Warren is in a tough spot.

On one hand, Ed Rollinger is doing whatever he can to prevent the closure of the Warren State Hospital Forensic Unit and the loss of about 30 family-sustaining jobs held by his fellow union members.

On the other, he is trying to work with the state agency that announced the closure to help find new jobs for those forensic security employees.

“I can’t just say it’s not going to happen,” Rollinger said. “If it did my members would be left out in the cold.”

The Department of Public Welfare announced the closure in early August saying the unit was scheduled to be fully out of service by the end of October. The forensic unit at Torrance State Hospital has been expanded to allow Warren’s patients to be treated there.

Department officials assured employees that they would provide assistance in finding job placement for those losing their jobs.

“I’ve been trying to work on some agreement that will help my members,” Rollinger said.

In late August, he received information from DPW.

Although the department came through with some of the promised help, it was not what he and the other union members had hoped.

“Right now the only definite they’re offering is three positions for my job classification at Torrance,” Rollinger said.

The forensic unit operation at Torrance has been expanded to include Warren’s patients to its existing population of 64.

According to State Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-65th), in the past six months, a total of 28 people have been hired at Torrance in spite of a state hiring freeze.

According to union members, those 28 are all forensic security employees (FSEs) and all were hired before the announcement to close Warren’s unit.

There are 27 FSEs at the Warren State Hospital forensic unit, Rollinger said.

Rollinger said about a third of his union members are willing to move to Westmoreland County for jobs at Torrance.

“I would like to see them take anybody who would like to go,” he said. “I can’t see why they can’t absorb them all. That’s what I’m trying to go for.”

The union members have not been offered placement at the only other state hospital forensic unit in Norristown, Montgomery County, he said.

Other than the three FSE positions offered at Torrance, DPW is offering to hold spaces at Warren State Hospital’s civil operation for the union members.

Those are state jobs and they’re in Warren, but there’s a downside.

“It’d be a drastic pay cut for my members,” Rollinger said. He said members’ pay would go down 20 to 30 percent.

Other positions in state prisons may be available.

“We do have opportunities to place into corrections,” Rollinger said.

DPW can’t force the Department of Corrections to hold openings for the FSEs in Warren.

“They can’t freeze openings for us. It’s still a waiting game,” Rollinger said. “People would be furloughed and then go on unemployment. It’s not a ‘one day you work here, the next day you work there.'”

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: