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“Catching up with Harrisburg State Hospital closure”

I found this little writeup about halfway down the page of “The Sentinel Online” at the following address … http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2010/02/15/news/local/doc4b792d958e73c880207766.txt

it was kind of neat to see this, because it seems like there is tons of information flying around during the closing of a state hospital, but then after it is completely closed the area becomes almost a blackhole interms of any updates on how things have changed for the area effected by the closure.  With Mayview which I followed I still come across land  re-use type articles, but have heard next to nothing abut how services for mental health consumers in the area have been impacted.  Have they improved, stagnated or gotten worse?  How are folks who were at Mayview and discharged to the community doing?  these were hot topics of discussion beofre the closing, but now I am lucky to find anything even remotely resembling an update.  It was good to see that someone took a moment to give a brief update on how the closure of Harrisburg State Hospital has effected Cumberland and Perry Counties.

Catching up with Harrisburg State Hospital closure

The closing of Harrisburg State Hospital four years ago was the “single biggest positive contributor” to local mental health service enhancements that Cumberland and Perry counties have ever experienced, according to Silvia Herman.

“We were able to develop new programs and expand programs that we had started from 2000 to 2005 that were effective in supporting individuals in their recovery journeys,” the director of Cumberland/Perry Mental Health and Mental Retardation said last week. “These programs focus on individuals receiving services and support in their communities, decreasing the need for inpatient treatment in a state hospital setting.”

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Follow up … Do I laugh or Cry?!?!

I know the post “Do I laugh or do I cry” was pretty charged and in many ways could amount to more of a rant rather then anything overly constructive with the exception of the idea that others can see copies of scanned documents I received I have to say there is a lot wrong with that particular post despite being based on the information I had at the time I wrote it.

Some thingsa I feel I need to clear up…

In the other post I said something about hoping that our state government doesn’t vote for a raise for themselves in light of the cost of living decrease they handed to folks on SSI.  In light of being in contact with a state representative, it is my understanding that the legislatures did NOT get an increase in their income this last time.

I also feel like I need to clarify that I personally don’t expect an increase in my Social Security benefits every year, and do understand that the economy hasn’t been too good in recent times.  I would have been mopre accepting if I had been told that my benefits would be frozen at their current amount until the economy improves, as opposed to having them decreased.  I don’t know numbers or anything to back this up, but I suspect there are others out there who hoped for an increase, but would have been understanding if they were told there wouldn’t be an increase and that benefit amounts were frozen.

For me personally, I think the thing that frustrated me the most, is that I was told by Social Security I qualified for “X” amount of dollars in benefits, and then to have the State decide to decrease that amount, despite the fact that I hadn’t had any changes such as a job, birth of a child, marriage, divorse or any of the other things that can effect my benefits, I felt like I was being told yes I qualify for a certain amount, but the state wasn’t going to hold up their end of what on some level has the appearance of a contract based on my qualifications for the benefits.  My understanding had been that as long as I met the qualifications, and I reported any changes in regards to other income or  things like marriages, divorce, birth whatever, I would be receiving a certain ammount that wouldn’t decrease unless something on my end changed.  that is pretty much how Social Security portrays the benefits to people receiving them, I never once was told that my benefits could go down because of decisions made by my state or federal government.  In light of this, I would like to ask that Social Security at both the state and federal levels, better inform those receiving Social Security benefits that it is possible for the government to decrease benefit amounts without notice, based on what the government feels is best rather then them looking to see what the actual impact could be beyond the actual budget they are working on.  With something like Social Security, politicians and the general public need to realize that while it looks like just numbers on paper, behind every single number on that paper, is a life that will be impacted in some way by the decisions made about the numbers.  For folks who live below the poverty level, a change of $5 can be huge in terms of being able to meet basic needs like food, shelter, clothing, and for those who do try to work or are even in the process of going to college in an attempt to better themselves and gain skills that might make them more employable, the $5 decrease that PA State Government decided on, could mean the difference between being able to have money to pay for tranportation to get to class or work, so while I keep hearing about programs like “Ticket to work” or “Welfare to work” personally I find that decisions such as the one made by the PA state government to decrease benefits is pretty much counter productive for those trying to make an effort.  We are told we can keep our helth coverage for “X” amopunt of time while we work even if we don’t qualify for Social Security, but then if we don’t have the skills to get a job where the employer offers health insurance comparable to what we had, it puts us in a position where we have to choose between paying rent or paying for healthcare, and many will choose things like food, rent, transportation, and clothing over medication if put in that position.  For folks with mental health disabilities, putting us in a position like that can result in us not getting the medication we need to remain stable enough to continue to work, and result in us having to quit working and go back on Social Security or other benefits just so we can once again stabilize our disabling mental health issues.  For someone with a severe and disabling mental illness, it can take several years for them to stabilize enough to where they are able to return to work, but then they are risking putting themself back into a situation where they once again have to choose pretty much between sanity and insanity because of a high potential for not having access to health care coverage to prevent having to choose between medication and a basic necesity like food, clothing or shelter.  It’s a viscious circle and I know based on experience that there are people out ther who believe that if everyone on social security or welfare simply “got a job” everything would be better, but I have to ask these people are they saying it would be better for the individual being told to get a job?  or would it be better for the person making or implying such statements who obviously have no clue what life with a disability of any kind is like.  For me personally to be able to work I would need a guarantee that I would have adaquate health care coverage that was compareable to my current coverage with coverage for my mental health treatment being treated equal to the treatment avaiable to someone with a medical condition such as diabetes, which I have been told for years that for me, taking my meds is as important as insulin is to a diabetic, but yet I’m told that unlike the diabetic, if I’m working, heath insurance isn’t required to give me the same coverage for my medications and other vital treatment as a diabetic would be entitled to with the same health care coverage.

No, I don’t have a degree that I can say backs up anything I’m expressing, but I can say I have life experience that has taught me that because my disability is a mental health disability, I’m better off not working then I am to attempt to work.  Society through their policies has taught me that, but given a chance to work at a job that was friendly to my mental health disability and provided me with insurance compareable to what I have now, I would make an honest effort to try to work at least part-time.  Until I find that combination, I will do what I can to give back to society through my limited freelance writing, and other odd jobs I sometimes do mostly on a volunteer basis, just so I can feel like I’m making an effort to be productive in some way regardless of the views held by those who would claim I’m freeloading.

So while this may be in some ways, yet another rant, I hope that people will be more aware of the viscious circle that folks like me end up in because of society’s view of us and the fact that I believe that many, not all, but many politicians forget that there are lives that will be impacticted by changes made to the numbers they are juggling when balancing budgets.  I feel that special interest typ projects that by design will only impact an individual community, such as funding for stadiums for example should be where cuts should be made, not because stauims don’t serve a purpose, but because people can live without a stadium, they can’t live without food.

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Pharmacy Choice article responding to the announced closure of ASH

I found this article which is unique in some ways, because it includes the a perspective often overlooked in these situations, not only the perspective of the employees, but also there is mention of what impact this is having on the patients.  Something I hope to get a better picture of as time goes on.

Here’s the link to the full article that I got the excerpt included below from …. http://www.pharmacychoice.com/News/article.cfm?Article_ID=528130

“I think it’s a mistake,” said state Rep. Doug Reichley, R-Lehigh. “It’s endangering the patients and it’s creating an imposition for the families of the patients who will be displaced.”

Reichley said there are “a lot of spin-off effects” from the closing. They include the yet-to-be settled fates of the more than 300 employees who work at the hospital.

Rich Robbins, a 28-year-veteran of the hospital who’s not sure where he’ll end up working, said he’s most concerned about families who might have to drive long distances to visit loved ones at Wernersville. He called state hospitals “a necessary evil.”

“The patients, they’ve been hearing the same rumors we’ve been hearing,” the East Allen Township resident said. “They’re sad. They don’t know what’s going to happen to them.”

Effect of the state budget on social services

This is a link to an article found on Philly.com that discusses the effect of the state budget on social services here in Pennsylvania ….

The article is dated … Friday, August 21, 2009

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20090821_Budget_stalemate_devastating_social-service_providers.html?referrer=facebook

Facts about healthcare reform

  First off I know this is more of a national issue then it is a Pennsylvania specific issue, but it is something that once all is said and done and whatever the final plan is that is put into action, it is something that will effect each and every person in the country in one way or another how exactly that effect will occur I can’t say, but I can say that I’m really to a point where I want to hear facts and not hear about the latest town hall meeting that went haywire.  To me that isn’t news worth focusing on yes eveyone is entitled to their views, but can it be presented by the media in a way that is more like a healthy debate instead of focusing on what ammounts to people making fools of themselves on national TV by yelling and screaming and interrupting the person trying to present information rather then simply listening to what the person(s) have to say before flying off the handle and in some cases becoming physically aggressive towards the speaker?

Ok now that I’ve vented a little I will include a link I received from the whitehouse specifically the president’s office/staff this explains facts about what the President is trying to convery and some of the misinterpretations that are out there …. I hope to add more links as I find more that aren’t glorifying town hal brawls but this is a starting point …..

http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/settingtherecord

Keep in mind that just because I post something from the president or any other politician does not mean I agree 100% with what the person, party or office is saying it simply means I’m offering it as something I found to be more productive then the nightly News’  coverage of townhall brawls.

If you have a problem with information that is contained in any of the links, please respectfully contact the person, party … etc. represented by the site you don’t agree with.  As the saying goes you can catch more flies with honey then with vinegar.  Keep in mind that while politician do hold positions of power, they are there because we the American people gave them that power and that we are partially responsible for the political nature of our communitees, states and country because of our choices we make when we choose to vote or not vote for someone.

For folks with any type of disability check out … the Disability Voting Coalition of Pennsylvania for a starting point with regards to disabled folks who want to excercise their right to vote …..

http://www.dvcpa.org/

They’ll get you started with where to register if you haven’t registered already and will guide you through the first steps towards having a stronger voice in our political system.

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