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“Some don’t do well”

  These appear to possibly be etters to The edito, but I’m not positive.  They were found in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette dated November 25, 2006 both talk about opinions on the downsizing and eventual closure of Mayview State Hospital.

Issue One: Mayview Downsizing

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Some don’t do well

For many years, I was an attorney with the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare. Among other duties, I represented the commonwealth’s mental health and mental retardation facilities. I was not involved in policy but watched as Dixmont State Hospital, Woodville State Hospital and Western Center were closed and hundreds of patients and residents were placed in the community.

So it was with great interest that I read your front-page article concerning Mayview State Hospital (“Mayview Suspends Downsizing: Death of Ex-Patient Causes Concern Over Discharges, Second Ex-Patient Also Killed,” Nov. 19).

Talk about “damning with faint praise”: The statement from Mary Fleming, chief executive officer of Allegheny HealthChoices, that “many are doing well in the community” is chilling. She was referring to about 80 recent discharges from Mayview. How many of these 80 are not doing well? Should they not have been discharged? Should they be recommitted? What is the Allegheny HealthChoices organization doing about those who are not doing well? What does “doing well” mean?

It seems to me that some individuals need the care that can be given only in an institution. Hopefully, the tragic deaths of the two former Mayview patients will allow the commonwealth officials time to reconsider the drive to close all state hospitals and centers.

EDWARD P. CAREY
Scott


Temporary halt

It is with great sadness that I read of two former Mayview State Hospital patients’ deaths. I guarantee that these problems are only the tip of the iceberg.

For over a year, I have been a very vocal advocate against the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ rush to close Mayview without adequate outpatient services in place. The problem stems from our area’s huge outpatient service deficits, which will not be cured by the amount of cash that the state wants to infuse back in the local systems.

Dr. Fred Markowitz in the journal Criminology, Volume 44, No. 1 (2006), shows that the state’s plan to use extended acute care beds will not change the documented increase in homelessness and criminalization of our most ill clients. Pennsylvania OMHSAS says it wants recovery in the community. But for many, this translates into more restrictive long-term structured residences, homelessness, jails and needless deaths.

I believe the current moratorium will be temporary. Then the state will chip away at Mayview until the beds are too few to be practical. After meeting with people from Pennsylvania OMHSAS and speaking with several politicians, I feel the only way the state will change the current plan is because of a lawsuit. A successful litigation is the only thing I have on my list to Santa Claus this year!

SUZANNE VOGEL-SCIBILIA, M.D.
Beaver County Psychiatric Services
Beaver

First published on November 25, 2007 at 12:00 am

Letters to the Editor “The Mayview situation cries out for review”

  The following Letter to the Editor was found in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Thursday, December 6, 2007

Letters to the Editor

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Mayview situation cries out for review

Like many in the community, I was saddened to learn of the deaths of two former Mayview State Hospital patients (“Mayview Suspends Downsizing,” Nov. 19). I am particularly sensitive to this as a practicing psychiatrist, since caring for persons with serious mental illness is what I spend my life doing.

I am also a member of the executive committee of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society, which has been discussing the planned closures in the state hospital system for some time. Our society, representing more than 1,700 psychiatrists from across the state, has called on the Department of Public Welfare to investigate the mental health services available in the region served by Mayview and to ensure that appropriate services are in place prior to any further reductions in beds there. An independent study of the effects of the closing of Harrisburg State Hospital is needed, as well.

To my knowledge, such studies have yet to be undertaken. Without such independent data, it will be difficult for the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to carefully plan the transformation of the care system for our most vulnerable patients.

It is not clear that the deaths of the former Mayview patients were in any way related to the closures. What is clear is that no one can know for sure unless an independent outsider takes a look at what data is available.

We hope the current moratorium on bed closures continues until such a study is completed and its findings taken into account for more careful planning.

BARRY W. FISHER, M.D.
Harrisburg
The writer is immediate past president of the Pennsylvania Psychiatric Society and is writing on behalf of the society’s executive committee.

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