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“Trump’s Call for Mental Institutions Could Be Good: Bringing back asylums isn’t actually the worst idea.”

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This article discusses reasons not only why re-opening asylums could be good, but includes some of the history behind those that have been downsized or closed.   The article appropriately points out that even though opening asylums could be good, it would likely do nothing to prevent mass shootings or other forms of violence and points to the access to guns as being the issue that is feeding gun violence.

“Nearly 10 years since Harrisburg State Hospital closed, state officials tout success”

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This May 21, 2015 article on The Patriot-News site is the beginning of a series where The Patriot-News hopes to explore what the result of state hospital closures has been, with a particular focus on the impact of the closure of Harrisburg State Hospital.

“Beware return of ‘asylums'”

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This February 23, 2015 article found on the Philly.com website talks about concerns over the proposed idea of returning to asylums.

PA Olmstead Plan

Here is a link to a PDF file outlining the Pennsylvania Olmstead Plan


I don’t know a lot about the plan it is something I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of in terms of my understanding of it, but it is of importance, because it has a direct impact on the state hospital system in Pennsylvania, and secondly an impact on the community based mental health systems in Pennsylvania.


“Troubled minds: Discharges creating treatment backlog, experts say”

The following article was found in the September 20, 2008 Johnstown Tribune-Democrat at the following address … http://www.tribune-democrat.com/local/local_story_264234435.html

The article discusses the impact of the closure of Mayview State Hospital on community based mental health services.

Troubled minds: Discharges creating treatment backlog, experts say

The Tribune-Democrat

September 20, 2008 11:43 pm

New fences at Torrance State Hospital’s fledgling criminal unit illustrate the official preparations for closing another state hospital, but local mental-health leaders say much more is needed.
Discharged state hospital patients from soon-to-be-closed Mayview State Hospital near Pittsburgh and downsized Torrance are given first priority in community programs.
The situation is creating a backlog, psychiatrists Larry Nulton and Burton Singerman say.
Not only do current facilities need expansion, but new intervention programs and treatment facilities will be required.
While the state is looking into those additions, discharges at both hospitals continue.
“The state is behind,” Nulton said at Nulton Diagnostic and Treatment Center, 214 College Park Plaza, Richland. “They should have had these programs and other supports before they deinstitutionalized.”
Closing Mayview is part of a 40-year program to move mentally ill patients out of institutions and into community settings, Deputy Welfare Secretary Joan Erney said.
Her Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services oversees the closing, working with community-based programs and local hospitals to help continue care.
“The seriously mentally ill can live very successful lives in the community if they have stable housing, support and treatment,” Erney said.
Mayview’s discharges have raised alarms in Allegheny County, where several former patients and others treated for mental illness have been involved in senseless violent crimes.
Shadyside resident Terrence Andrews told police he complained to his doctor that he felt like killing someone before he was arrested in May for the stabbing death of 18-year-old Lisa Maas.
In June, former Mayview patient Andrea Curry-Demus was accused of killing a pregnant teenage girl and cutting an infant boy from the woman’s womb.
It was among at least seven serious incidents involving former Mayview patients that triggered investigations since the state in August 2007 announced plans to close the facility by the end of this year. The investigations led to a temporary moratorium on discharges in November, and a one-month halt to new referrals to Western Psychiatric Institute of UPMC last month. Several of the discharged Mayview patients were assigned to Western Psych for follow-up.
Western Psych was just a scapegoat, Singerman insists.
“They have blamed (Western Psych) for many deaths of outpatients who were put in personal care homes after discharge from years of state hospital care, without acknowledging that closing the state hospital led to people being discharged who were too ill,” Singerman said.
“They either killed themselves or someone else because of the severity of their illness.”
Cambria County mental-health leaders agree that community environments are the least-expensive, most-effective way to treat the mentally ill.
“I think the philosophy and the theory are good,” Nulton said.
“The state has the right model. They have researched it well.”
But it’s too slow in coming, Nulton stressed, characterizing it as a “cart before the horse.”
Local advocates are pushing for more inpatient care facilities and more extensive response teams.
Memorial Medical Center’s psychiatric units often are filled because there is no facility that can accept patients ready for less intensive care, said Singerman, who chairs Memorial’s behavior health program.
Admissions at Cambria County’s long-term structured residence facility on Windy Valley Road outside Ebensburg are now limited to those being discharged from Torrence.
Singerman said what is needed is a step-down unit – a place for those who don’t need constant supervision, but aren’t ready for a group home or personal care home. His cousin, David Cutler, helped develop a step-down, or sub-acute care unit for Salem State Hospital in Oregon.
Those coming out of a short-term psychiatric hospital unit like Memorial’s can be placed in the sub-acute unit for up to three months to see if they are ready for the community or should be admitted to a state hospital. Oregon’s program was able to reduce admissions to the state hospital, Singerman said.
Newly formed Crisis Intervention Team of the Laurel Highlands is a good start, said Wendy Stewart, director of National Alliance on Mental Illness of Cambria County.
Based on the proven Memphis, Tenn., model, Laurel Highlands’ law enforcement officers have been trained to handle mental-health patients in crisis to defuse situations and get needed help.
Stewart and the psychiatrists would like local leaders to expand the program to include a 24-hour crisis stabilization unit like Memphis’, where mentally ill patients can be taken for care and evaluation. The next step would be an assertive community treatment team of professionals available 24 hours to help mentally ill people stay out of crises. The team would monitor medication and other life issues, getting help as needed.
“It’s a very expensive program to start up, but well worth sparing people the hospitalization,” Stewart said. “It’s cost effective in the end. You are keeping people out of the hospital.”

Copyright © 1999-2008 cnhi, inc.

“State vows Mayview patients will have good care”

This article was originally printed on April 4, 2008 in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and can be seen in it’s original format at … http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/s_560566.html

State vows Mayview patients will have good care
The Pittsburgh area has sufficient facilities and mental health professionals to absorb the 160 people yet to be released from Mayview State Hospital by year’s end, state officials told members of a state Senate committee hearing in Pittsburgh Thursday.Estelle Richman, secretary of the Department of Public Welfare, said all patients discharged by the South Fayette hospital have a detailed case management plan begun months in advance, and teams of professionals to assist in their transition to group homes or other residential settings. She said she expects 65 patients to be discharged by July, with the remainder released by year’s end — although the process is about a month behind schedule, she said.

“No one will be removed from Mayview unless we can ensure their safe transition,” Richman said. “I have no problem going past the deadline if that’s appropriate.”

More worrisome, Richman said, is the fate of other people with mental health concerns living in the community who might not be getting care.

“The people in the state hospital we know by name, we know what they need,” Richman said. “It’s their (counterparts) that will be identified over the next year and a half that we have to make sure we have the capacity to supply housing, medical support, hospital support and community support.”An accidental death of a former Mayview patient and the suicide of another prompted the Department of Public Welfare to briefly halt Mayview discharges in the fall. A review urged enhanced monitoring of patients transferred between counties and improved coordination between jails and mental health caregivers.

Three other patients, who had been released since the August announcement of Mayview’s closure, have died — all of natural causes, said David Jones, a former Mayview CEO who is overseeing the closure for the Department of Public Welfare. Jones said those deaths correspond with the shorter-than-average life spans of the mentally ill documented in a national study.

“People with serious mental illness tend to die 25 years earlier than the general population,” Jones said. “Some are individuals with a number of debilitating medical conditions — morbid obesity, diabetes and chronic pulmonary” ailments.

Bonnie Pfister can be reached at bpfister@tribweb.com or 412-320-7886.

“Pennsylvania drops bid to privatize forensic mental-health services Cost-saving deal reached with unions”

This article is from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette found in the March 21, 2008 Issue, it talks about a deal that has been reached to cut costs, but also prevent Forensics facilities in Pennsylvania from being privatized.  The articale can be read below or viewed at the following address…. http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08081/866822-85.stm

Pennsylvania drops bid to privatize forensic mental-health services  Cost-saving deal reached with unions
Friday, March 21, 2008

After reaching a cost-saving agreement with union leaders, the state plans to end its efforts to privatize and consolidate forensic services in state hospitals serving people with mental illnesses.

In a statement prepared for release today, state Department of Public Welfare Secretary Estelle Richman said the agreement maintains quality care and continued employment for forensic center staff while providing savings to Pennsylvania taxpayers.

Forensic units provide evaluation and treatment for people in the criminal justice system.

The agreement calls for no layoffs, though officials plan to save about $1.5 million the first year by cutting positions through attrition and making salary changes for new hires, said department spokeswoman Stacey Witalec. Savings should increase in later years, she said.

Representatives of union groups praised the agreement while acknowledging that it involves concessions.

“Our members felt this was a major win,” said Mike Morrill, state unit coordinator for Service Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania, which represents nurses in forensic units.

“This agreement saves tax dollars without compromising public safety,” said David La Torre, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association, which had been highly critical of the privatization effort.

Other unions that worked to reach the agreement with the state included Pennsylvania Social Services Union Local 668 and the Office and Professional Employees International Union Healthcare Pennsylvania.

The state disclosed the privatization effort last August as part of an announcement that Mayview State Hospital would close by the end of this year.

The agreement to be announced today still means the termination of forensic and other mental health services at Mayview.

Currently, the state provides forensic services at Mayview, Norristown and Warren state hospitals. The state had explored creating privately run forensic facilities at two sites, the Norristown and Torrance hospitals.

Under the new agreement, state-operated forensic services at the Warren and Norristown hospitals will continue. Once Mayview closes, forensic services there will be transferred to Torrance State Hospital.

Joe Fahy can be reached at jfahy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722.
First published on March 21, 2008 at 12:00 am

Update on SAP meetings on the 15th

In a post I did a little bit ago, like within the past several hours, I had stated there are two Service Area Planning (SAP) meetings scheduled for Friday, February 15, 2008  This is accurrate, I just need to clarify the second SAP

Warren State Hospital SAP will be from 1 to 3 in the WSH Gymnasium

The second SAPbeing held the same day ….

is for the Mayview SAP and will be held at greentree Holiday Inn from 1 to 3:30 (see http://www.mayview-sap.org/html/May-QtrStk.htm   for details)

Both meetings are stakeholder meetings, so consumers and patient family members, professionals in the Behavioral Health field, community leaders and citizens can be present and heard for the respective SAP areas for each hospital.

“Rapp Takes State Hospital Closing Moratorium Mission to Speaker’s Symposium on Crime and Violence”

Released to the media on January 8, 2008 Representative Kathy Rapp continues to push for a study on the number of inmates who are mentally ill in hopes that she can delay the closure of state hospitals until the study is completed.

Rapp Takes State Hospital Closing Moratorium Mission to Speaker’s Symposium on Crime and Violence

District 65 Lawmaker not backing down on protecting patients, jobs and services at Warren State Hospital despite partisan attempts to kill bill
Despite partisan attempts to bury her legislation (House Bill 1455), which calls for a moratorium on all future state hospital closings until a study is completed to determine the approximate number state and county prison inmates suffering from mental illness, in the PA House Health and Human Services committee, Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Warren) confirmed today that she is moving forward with her ongoing battle to protect the patients, jobs and community services at Warren State Hospital.
“Two times over the past several months my commonsense moratorium legislation has been on the House Health and Human Services Committee voting calendar,” confirmed Rapp. “On at least one of those occasions the Rendell administration irresponsibly asserted their partisan influence over the House Health and Human Services Majority Committee Chairman to keep my bill, which has the support of nearly 70 state lawmakers, from advancing to the House floor for consideration.   
Her next course of action will be to travel with Forest/Warren County Director of Human Services Mary Kushner to Philadelphia this coming Thursday to participate in House Speaker Dennis Obrien’s Symposium on Crime, Violence and Mental Health Issues.
“How many lives have to be lost or endangered before the Rendell administration gives up on this wrong-headed cost-shifting state hospital deinstitutionalization scheme that directly coincides with hundreds of severely mentally ill patients, many of them who are repeat sexual predators, being discharged into the streets and inevitably back into county and state correctional facilities,” said Rapp. “Not even one dollar saved due to the closure of a state hospital or the privatization of a forensic unit can justify yet another repeat offense from a rapist or a pedophile.”
The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare’s (DPW) announcement of the December 2008 closure of Mayview State Hospital in Allegheny County and the potential privatization of forensic staff at both Warren and Norristown state hospitals prompted Rapp to author her legislation. According to the DPW, the privatization of more than 200 forensic jobs, including the forensic unit at Warren State Hospital, “will cut costs by 20 percent,” while “at the same time enhance community based services.”
In sharp contrast, the following information compiled by the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association clearly indicates that the DPW’s flawed cost-shifting strategy of closing state hospitals, dismantling state hospital forensic units and entrusting these essential public services to the lowest possible bidder on the privatization auction block is an unnecessary, dangerous and over-expensive public policy gamble that continues to put both patient and public safety at risk, while dramatically increasing mental health care costs in Pennsylvania and across the nation:
Nationwide: Over the past three decades, the deinstitutionalizing of state hospitals has coincided with a dramatic increase of jailed mentally ill persons.   According to Federal Bureau of Justice statistics, there are currently 1.25 million prison inmates suffering from debilitating mental conditions such as schizophrenia and post-dramatic stress disorder. Moreover, studies show that inmates suffering from mental illness remain in jail eight times longer than other inmates, at seven times the cost. 
Florida: In Clearwater, a schizophrenic inmate gouged out his eye after waiting weeks for a hospital bed. Taxpayers in Miami-Dade County spend $100,000 each day to house and care for mentally ill prison inmates
Michigan: Due largely to the closing of the Northville Psychiatric Hospital, one of the last public mental health facilities in the metropolitan Detroit area, a study conducted in three Michigan counties found that 50 percent of prison inmates suffered from some form of mental illness, while 34 percent were diagnosed with severe mental illness.
Philadelphia:  A study conducted on the replacement of the 500-bed Philadelphia State Hospital with a community based treatment program revealed that direct treatment costs actually increased from $68,446 to $78,929 and the price tag for annual cost to care treatment increased from $48,631 to $66,794. These increases do not include the additional cost incurred by Philadelphia-area correctional facilities to hire more staff and medical experts to deal with the significant influx in mentally ill inmates.
Allegheny County: Authorities believe that Anthony Fallert, a 24-year old schizophrenic patient discharged from Mayview State Hospital, walked  away from the community-based program he was assigned to on Pittsburgh’s south side and either jumped or fell to his death from the Birmingham Bridge where he drowned in the Mongahela River on Oct. 29, 2007.  
“Tragic reports and statistics like these prove that any time a state hospital is shut down or an experienced and skilled forensic unit such as the staff at Warren State Hospital is privatized, greatly increases the possibility that our most vulnerable citizens suffering from schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder or substance addiction will wind up unnecessarily incarcerated, unfairly exploited or otherwise victimized in mainstream society,” said Rapp. “We can only hope that my moratorium legislation finally receives an open-minded reception at Thursday’s Speaker’s Symposium on Crime and Violence, than it has thus far from the Rendell administration and the House Health and Human Services Committee. Placing partisan politics above the safety and well-being of all Pennsylvania citizens is not only inexcusable, it is absolutely inhumane.”  
Rep. Kathy Rapp
65th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(814) 723-5203
(717) 787-1367
Contact: Ty McCauslin
House Republican Public Relations
(717) 772-9979
January 8, 2008

“Don’t Privatize Mental Health Care For Inmates”

This article was found in the October 17, 2007 issue of “The Tribune-Democrat” I’m not positive, but I believe this may be a paper out of Johnstown, PA, but I can’t say fro sure since the site didn’t readily reveal the location of the paper.  If I’m wrong, please let me know so that I can correct the location if it is wrong.  The articl focuses on the PSCOA’s views regarding the Privatizing of Forensic treatment Facilities

Don’t privatize mental health care for inmates


The Rendell administration’s intention to privatize the care, custody and control of mentally ill criminals is more than just bad public policy – it puts public safety at risk.

The state Department of Public Welfare has formally requested bids from private companies to take over the entire operation of Pennsylvania’s three secure, segregated units for these dangerous criminals. One of these units is housed at Mayview State Hospital in Allegheny County. 

According to the DPW plan, Mayview would be closed by the end of 2008, and these inmates would be transferred to Torrance State Hospital in Westmoreland County.

The stated objective in the DPW proposal can only be read one way: Do it cheaper by getting them out on the streets faster.

Beyond the stunning naiveté behind this severely flawed proposal, and even greater than the job security of some of our state’s most highly trained and dedicated civil servants, is the fundamental responsibility of government to protect its citizens.

Handing over this public trust to a for-profit company in the name of cost-cutting is an unnecessary and dangerous gamble.

Trying to pinch a few dollars when it comes to sexually deviant and violent criminals who have persistent and severe mental illnesses is outrageous and irresponsible.

One has to question why such a move is even being considered, and why the Rendell administration would spend so much time and resource to pursue such a wrongheaded course.

(Incidentally, this comes at a time when the administration is also intent on implementing a new policy that would allow for early release of thousands of so-called “nonviolent offenders.”)

It seems somebody is being led down the primrose path with that old and tired promise of “more for less.”

According to the DPW, privatization will cut costs by 20 percent while – at the same time – enhance services. These so-called enhancements would include an acceleration of the processing, evaluation and potential release of these inmates.

Tragically, the recidivism rate for these types of criminals is high. How many dollars saved can justify the repeat offense of a rapist or a pedophile?

Does the Rendell administration really want to take responsibility for such a policy?

The Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association believes that the elimination of more than 200 “forensic” jobs held by PSCOA members is the opening move in an attempt to privatize the entire state corrections system.

This should concern all Pennsylvanians because privatization and our corrections system are a dangerous mix.

For-profit companies are just that – for profit. Pressure to produce a fat bottom line has no place in our state prison system. It would inevitably lead to less secure state hospitals and prisons because what ultimately drives the decision-making is profit – not security.

The group of PSCOA members who have been successfully providing this essential security are called Forensic Security Employees.

FSEs train extensively across several disciplines, including security and psychiatry. It is extremely dangerous work and the risk and incidence of serious injury are high. FSEs have suffered severe and career-ending injuries in the line of duty.

It takes time, dedication, specialized skills and decades of institutional knowledge and experience for these men and women to perform their jobs successfully.

The public knows little about FSEs and the three secure units inside our state hospitals because their record has been exemplary: There has never been a successful escape from any of these facilities since the creation of FSEs decades ago.

It is extremely disturbing to put these critical services on the auction block for the lowest bidder. No for-profit company can hope to duplicate the years of experience and knowledge FSEs bring to the job. The citizens of Pennsylvania should not be forced to accept a trial-and-error approach when it comes to the control and custody of mentally ill criminals.

If we’ve learned anything in recent years it’s that you don’t gamble with public safety, and you certainly don’t try to do it on the cheap.

PSCOA firmly believes this privatization effort by the Rendell administration should be stopped in its tracks.

It is unwarranted, dangerous, and it would ultimately pose a threat to the safety of our communities across the state.

Donald G. McNany is president of the Pennsylvania State Corrections Officers Association.

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