“Federal suit says state provides inadequate mental health care”

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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.

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“Conference tackles mental health issues: Treatment or incarceration”

storeroom

storeroom (Photo credit: suttonhoo)

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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