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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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“Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown”

 

Those curious about the eventual fate of the Mayview State Hospital property will
have to wait another month.
The state task force studying the issue cancelled the meeting it had scheduled for
tonight, and is withholding its draft report to await more information.
“We are expecting the final appraisal and land survey in
June,” State Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, said Monday.
“Originally we didn’t know when that was going to come
back. Since we’re going to have it, it seemed wise to wait
for it.”
The state, as part of its program to decentralize mental health
care, closed the hospital at the end of the year. Mr. Pippy is
co-chair of the task force, which is exploring the best use of the 335-acre site on
Chartiers Creek in South Fayette.
The process has not been free of controversy. Advocates have staged rallies at task
force meetings, calling for a sale at the highest possible price with the proceeds
going toward mental health care.
Others have been sounding a cautionary note, pointing out that slopes and wetlands
limit the buildable space to about 80 acres, noting that access on Mayview Road
would limit development for major business or commercial use and saying that the
roughly 30 buildings will have serious asbestos issues in demolition or reuse.
South Fayette commissioners recently changed the property’s zoning to a newly
created designation for recreational use, which would include use as a public park,
low-density residential or agriculatural use or such commercial recreation use as a
golf course.
The township is interested in acquiring the upper part of the property — west of
Mayview Road, up a steep slope — and adding it to the adjacent Fairview Park.
Some of the hospital buildings are more than a century old, and many are in poor
condition, ill-suited for reuse. Those dating from the middle of the 20th Century are
laden with asbestos, as are most buildings from the era. It will have to be safely
removed whether they are renovated or demolished.
Mr. Pippy said the task force essentially agrees with the goals of the mental health
advocates.
Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown
State to release report next month
Thursday, May 07, 2009
By Brian David, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
LOCAL / NEIGHBORHOODS / SOUTH
Inside Neighborhoods:
City
East
West
North
South
Washington
Westmoreland
5/10/2009 Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unk…
post-gazette.net/pg/…/968062-55.stm 1/2
advocates.
“We’ve been working with them closely over the last couple of months,” he said.
“We want to make sure that as much money comes from this as possible, and that it
goes to mental health care.”
But it’s not likely to be tens of millions, as advocates would like. “I don’t think
people have taken fully into account the cost of demolition,” Mr. Pippy said.
The task force commissioned the appraisal in March; the contract called for an
assessment of the land’s value at its highest possible use, regardless of zoning.
Having it should lend some clarity to the draft report, which Mr. Pippy described
as “essentially an attempt to summarize most of the notes we’ve taken at the various
hearings” held about the land’s use.
The task force announced several weeks ago that it would post the report on its
Web site about a week prior to tonight’s meeting. But when it cancelled the
meeting, it also cancelled plans to post the report.
“There won’t be anything in there that’s new,” Mr. Pippy said. “It’s all the stuff
people have been hearing talk about. But it seemed prudent to wait for the
appraisal.”

 

This article first seen in the May 7, 2009 issue of the Pittsburgh post-gazette offers an update as to where things are with regards to the issues surrounding the re-use of the former Mayview state Hospital property.  The article can be found in it’s original format at … http://www.post-gazette.net/pg/09127/968062-55.stm

Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown

State to release report next month

Those curious about the eventual fate of the Mayview State Hospital property will have to wait another month.

The state task force studying the issue cancelled the meeting it had scheduled for tonight, and is withholding its draft report to await more information.

“We are expecting the final appraisal and land survey in June,” State Sen. John Pippy, R-Moon, said Monday.

“Originally we didn’t know when that was going to come back. Since we’re going to have it, it seemed wise to wait for it.”

The state, as part of its program to decentralize mental health care, closed the hospital at the end of the year. Mr. Pippy is co-chair of the task force, which is exploring the best use of the 335-acre site on Chartiers Creek in South Fayette.

The process has not been free of controversy. Advocates have staged rallies at task force meetings, calling for a sale at the highest possible price with the proceeds going toward mental health care.

Others have been sounding a cautionary note, pointing out that slopes and wetlands limit the buildable space to about 80 acres, noting that access on Mayview Road would limit development for major business or commercial use and saying that the roughly 30 buildings will have serious asbestos issues in demolition or reuse.

South Fayette commissioners recently changed the property’s zoning to a newly created designation for recreational use, which would include use as a public park, low-density residential or agriculatural use or such commercial recreation use as a golf course.

The township is interested in acquiring the upper part of the property — west of Mayview Road, up a steep slope — and adding it to the adjacent Fairview Park.

Some of the hospital buildings are more than a century old, and many are in poor condition, ill-suited for reuse. Those dating from the middle of the 20th Century are laden with asbestos, as are most buildings from the era. It will have to be safely removed whether they are renovated or demolished.

Mr. Pippy said the task force essentially agrees with the goals of the mental health advocates.

Mayview State Hospital’s fate still unknown State to release report next month.  Advocates. “We’ve been working with them closely over the last couple of months,” he said.

“We want to make sure that as much money comes from this as possible, and that it goes to mental health care.”

But it’s not likely to be tens of millions, as advocates would like. “I don’t think people have taken fully into account the cost of demolition,” Mr. Pippy said.

The task force commissioned the appraisal in March; the contract called for an assessment of the land’s value at its highest possible use, regardless of zoning.

Having it should lend some clarity to the draft report, which Mr. Pippy described as “essentially an attempt to summarize most of the notes we’ve taken at the various hearings” held about the land’s use.

The task force announced several weeks ago that it would post the report on its Web site about a week prior to tonight’s meeting. But when it cancelled the meeting, it also cancelled plans to post the report.

“There won’t be anything in there that’s new,” Mr. Pippy said. “It’s all the stuff people have been hearing talk about. But it seemed prudent to wait for the appraisal.”

“Mental Health Awareness Month Kicks Off”

This article was found in the Cumberland County The Sentinel on May 4, 2009 and can be found at the following address …

http://www.cumberlink.com/articles/2009/05/04/news/local/doc49fef1706accb539490497.txt

he Cumberland/Perry Community Support Program committee kicked off Mental Health Awareness Month Friday with lunch, speakers and cake at the STAR Center in the Penrose Plaza in Carlisle.

A planned walk from the STAR Center to downtown Carlisle was canceled due to poor weather. The CSP committee is a group of people in recovery from mental illness, family members and professionals working together to help adults in recovery from serious mental illnesses live successfully in the community. CSP serves the thousands of Cumberland/Perry citizens who are in recovery from serious mental illness.

“Mayview Patients One Year Later”

  I found the following article that includes a link to an audio broadcast offering an update on the status of those still at Mayview and also gives a sort of window into what is happening with those who are living in the community.  It was originally posted on WDUQ’s blog on April 17, 2009, but it answered a few questions I had regarding wondering how folks that were discharged from Mayview were doing and if the community had the supports in place these folks needed before they were discharged.  You can read the writeup below or follow this link to check it out for yourself and listen to the audio broadcast fo the segment. http://wduqnews.blogspot.com/2009/04/mayview-patients-one-year-later.html 

Mayview Patients One Year Later

Mayview State Hospital closed nearly a year ago, and former residents are living in the community. At one time the facility housed more than one thousand patients, but by the time it closed, there were just 250. In 2007 two of those patients died of unnatural causes, but the general consensus is that the vast majority are doing well and getting the services they need. Most of those services are being provided by small nonprofit organizations. Patients, service providers and doctors all seem to have their own take on the way the new system is working. You can hear some of those thoughts by listening to a longer version of the story.

“Stamp Out Hunger”

This is something I’m going to be doing on Saturday, May 9, 2009, it’s easy to do and I can get rid of those odds and ends I have in my cupboards that I bought thinking I would use them but haven’t gotten around to it for whatever reason.  This is a program where you put non-perishable items in a bag on your mailbox and then your mail carrier will pick it up and make sure it gets delivered to a food bank in your local area.

Here’s the link where you can learn more about it … http://www.helpstampouthunger.com/

Ideas you might use if you want to buy something to put out but don’t want to spend a lot ….

  • Use a coupon for an item you think someone else could use
  • Take advantage of buy one get one sale items, these would enable you to purchase something you can use and give you an extra that you can put out with your mail.
  • If you got a food “basket” from a food bank or other agency, and found items that you know your family won’t use, consider putting those unwanted items out for pickup, not only will you make room in your cupboard, but you’ll be recycling the item so maybe someone who will use it can have a chance to receive it.

Whatever you decide to do, know that you don’t have to put out bags and bags of food, you could just put out one or two items if that’s what you have or can afford, go with what you are able to spare because every little bit helps and if everyone put out one or two items, it could make a world of difference to someone else.

Not to mention the added benefit of getting that warm fuzzy feeling people get inside them from doing something to help others.

Get the Stamp Out Hunger? widget and many other great free widgets at Widgetbox!

“Fate of Norristown State Hospital remains up for debate”

  Interesting article, not that it has to do directly with Mental Health, but it offers some interesting insight into the potential future of Norristown State Hospital.  This article was found in the April 30, 2009 issue of Philly.com local news website and can be found in it’s original format at …http://www.philly.com/philly/news/local/20090430_Fate_of_Norristown_State_Hospital_remains_up_for_debate.html

Fate of Norristown State Hospital remains up for debate

Across from a neighborhood of bungalows and rowhouses along the Norristown-West Norriton border, Norristown State Hospital stretches for 225 rolling, tree-lined acres, awaiting its third life.

But what might be in store for the 30-building site, which includes a dwindling mental institution, is an ongoing debate.

“Frankly, it’s a large parcel of land that’s completely underutilized and off the tax rolls,” State Rep. Matthew Bradford (D., Montgomery) said. “It’s time to have an honest discussion of what we do going forward.”

The complex, which opened with 392 patients and grew to hold thousands, has the lowest population in its 192-year history, and is scheduled to shrink further. Some of the buildings have been rented to social-service providers and government agencies, while others are vacant and in disrepair.

Two state agencies, the Department of General Services and the Department of Public Welfare, oversee the hospital, but neither has a plan for its future, said Stacey Witalec, a state spokeswoman.

In March, Norristown residents protested and turned back a state-approved bid to bring in its 32d tenant: Vision Quest, an agency that houses at-risk youths.

“When places are looking for a place to house dangerous pedophiles or children waiting to enter into the social-service system, they house them in Norristown,” said Gina Bottone, one of the protestors.

Government outposts and agencies to aid the troubled or drug-addicted rent nearly half the buildings still standing at Norristown State Hospital, while patients occupy just four.

Ten of the buildings, scheduled for demolition, are roped off and vacant. Their boarded-up windows face potholed roads. Most are dilapidated, red-brick Victorian buildings, originally patient lodgings.

Today, their craggy, sagging entranceways and “danger” signs dispel any perception of warmth. Three will be torn down this year, more when the money is budgeted, said Gerald P. Kent, chief executive officer of the hospital.

“We’re trying to get smaller,” he said.

Neighbors, and their political allies, say the decay has made the sprawling site an eyesore.

“I don’t think that over several decades we’ve been very good stewards of the property,” Bradford said.

He and Rep. Mike Vereb (R., Montgomery) say they want a direction for Norristown State Hospital beyond the ad-hoc, one-year leases to agencies neighbors regard as a perennial problem.

Officially, nothing has happened.

“We’d like to move toward a more definitive plan,” Vereb said. “What that plan is, I just don’t know. I don’t know anybody that does know.”

Meanwhile, the mental hospital’s population, 380 now, will eventually recede nearly to a patient an acre. That was unthinkable when 4,700 patients overfilled the place in 1954, before psychiatric drugs became widely available and more emphasis was placed on allowing the mentally ill to avoid long-term commitments.

Norristown hoped the dwindling was a one-way street. Thirty years ago, the hospital was down to 1,200 patients, and then-City Manager John Plonski railed about “another influx of criminals” when a new ward for criminally insane juveniles was proposed.

Total closure seems unlikely. For one, the 136-patient forensic unit for criminally committed patients is often near capacity.

“The forensic unit is going to be here for God knows how long,” said Aidan Altenor, the hospital’s former head, who now oversees it and other state hospitals from Harrisburg.

There is, however, a precedent for turning obsolete parts of Norristown State Hospital into an asset for the neighborhoods around it: Neighboring Norristown Farm Park, an immense public park on land where patients once raised crops and livestock.

Observers talk about similar ideas coming out of the hospital’s limbo.

“It would be a beautiful addition if we could get it to developable land,” said Bill Caldwell, who chairs the Norristown Council’s planning and economic development committee. “In a town of 3.5 square miles that was built out probably 100 years ago, you know, that’s a tough thing to find.”

Paper I wrote on EMDR

EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization
This is an opinion article about EMDR based on my personal experiences. I wrote it to help those who might be considering EMDR but want more information.
http://www.associatedcontent.comarticle/1672267/emdr_eye_movement_desensitization.html

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