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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?

 

 

 

“Help For Homeless”

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This article appearing on October 12, 2012 on the TimesObserver.com website discusses efforts being made by Warren E.O.C. to receive a grant that would enable them to help homeless people in the area find long-term housing.

 

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.”

RSVP offers a lot to smile about! – TimesObserver.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Community Information – The Times Observer

RSVP offers a lot to smile about! – TimesObserver.com

This article found in the October 16, 2010 edition of the Warren Times Observer, talks about what the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, commonly known as RSVP.  I know volunteering can be very gratifying if you find something that is a good match in terms of your skills, abilities, and available time.  RSVP targets the age 55+ group, but they do a lot of neat things.  On thing that jumped out at me from this particular article, is that they are lookig for volunteers to work on getting the Warren State Hospital Greenhouses up and running again.  I have watched the greenhouses go from being vibrant places to being something just short of abandoned, so to see a group taking an interest in reviving the greenhouses is truely and exciting thing in my eyes.

The greenhouses use to be operated as a sheltered workshop type setting before they were shut down.  Patients could work there and get paid for their work.  The greenhouses were open to the public so folks in the community were able to go and purchase plants from the greenhouse it was a neat project.  I don’t know if there are plans to include patients in the workforce once the greenhouses have been revived but regardless of that I am glad to see someone taking an interest in them.

For those outside of the Warren area, who are interested in volunteering someplace, some ideas of places to look might include your local hospital, library, historical society, animal shelters, Red Cross chapters, and sometimes opportunities will even be listed in your local paper as well.  Ask around people you know might know of someone looking for volunteers for a long or short term project.  Short-term projects are a great way to kind of test the water so to speak and see what kinds of things you enjoy doing as a volunteer.  Some organizations with long-term programs also include awards based on either number of hours you volunteered or the number of years you volunteered, these awards may not be anything fancy, but they can give you something to work towards which can give you a sense of accomplishment when they are obtained.

 

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WSH Forensic Unit: A Letter to the editor

I thought this was a well thought out letter found in the August 14, 2010 edition of the Warren Times Observer.

WSH forensic unit
POSTED: August 14, 2010 Email: “WSH forensic unit”

Dear editor:

I am a past/retired employee of Warren State Hospital. I am also “one”of many employees that were injured by the hands of a patient.

Without getting into details of my incident, know that the patient that injured me was a female and because we had no female forensic unit she ended up at Torrence State Hospital.

I guess what I’m saying now and then is why didn’t Warren State Hospital open up the other half of the forensic unit for the female population in this area.

I have been in the forensic unit numerous times and know that it is possible to do such. I also know (read the police blotter) that I am not the only employee to get hurt by a female.

The Warren County Jail is not equipped to take care of these “girls/ladies.” Warren State Hospital could be. Fight for our hospital and the jobs that are being lost.

These are good, dedicated employees that don’t deserve to lose their jobs. transfer to a different job (Torrence), maybe, or stand in an unemployment line a bigger maybe yet.

Thank you,

Lucy Rudolph

P.S. My thoughts on will they close Warren State Hospital entirely. If they can undermine the forensic unit, they can undermine the hospital also. Better start looking now.

“Board surprised at WSH decision”

http://www.timesobserver.com/page/content.detail/id/533958.html?nav=5006

The following article was found in the August 5, 2010 edition of the Warren Times Observer, found on their site at the above address as of the time of this post. 

The article offers a public response from the Warren State Hospital Board members who it sems were unaware of the decision to close the WSH Forensic until after the decision had been made.  They appear to be upset by the way this was handled, and to be honest I don’t blame them.

Board surprised at WSH decision

By BRIAN FERRY bferry@timesobserver.com

POSTED: August 5, 2010
When the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare made the decision to close the Forensic Unit at Warren State Hospital, it did so without input from the hospital’s advisory board.

Warren State Hospital Advisory Board of Trustees President Dr. Ray Feroz, a professor of special education and rehabilitative services at Clarion University, said the announcement came as a surprise to board members.

“The advisory board was surprised by this announcement as were others,” Feroz said on Wednesday. “We are dismayed and even angered that our input wasn’t sought in this decision.”

“Warren’s been there for a hundred years and to have this office of mental health in a winding down administration come in and make this decision is just dismaying and it’s no way to do business,” he said. “The full board is dismayed that this decision was made in this manner without more local input and regional input.”

“Our sole role is to be the eyes and ears of the members of the community and be in a consultative role to the management of the institution,” he said, adding that they were not consulted.

The nine-member board does not have a great deal of power, but the members plan to do what they can to see if there is a chance the unit can remain open in Warren.

“Some people say it’s a done deal,” Feroz said. “I haven’t given up hope.”

“We will lodge our concerns” with the department and policy-makers, Feroz said. “We’re doing what we can.”

“All we can do is talk to our legislators and talk to the governor’s office and make sure they’re aware of our feelings on this,” he said.

He said it is possible that closing the unit truly makes economic sense as indicated by the department and Press Secretary Michael Race.

However, he would like to know for certain.

“We would have loved to see their data,” Feroz said.

Even if the state will realize a cost savings by closing the Warren facility and moving patients to Torrance State Hospital’s Regional Forensic Psychiatric Center, money should not be the only issue, he said.

Transporting patients from “the huge swath of counties” served by Warren State Hospital to Westmoreland County will cost the counties, Feroz said.

Not transporting patients who need the services of a forensic unit will cost even more. Counties will be “on the hook” for expensive medications for prisoners, Feroz said.

“There have to be other considerations in the decision to close a unit like this,” he said. “This decision needs to be made on more than just dollars.”

“All of the reports that we have seen have been that we run an excellent program at Warren State Hospital,” Feroz said. “I don’t know how that compares to Torrance. I’d like to see a side-by-side comparison… just to understand which is the better unit.”

According to Race, Warren’s Forensic Unit was the smallest of three in the state with 25 patients.

Torrance had 64 men in residence as of Tuesday with the capacity for 75. Race said the facility would be modified to accommodate 100.

If the money and quality of care both favor Torrance, “We probably would have supported the idea” of consolidation, Feroz said. “From a quality point of view and a cost point of view we were given no information to support that.”

“We weren’t at all included in any of this decision,” he said.

Feroz said the lack of transparency in the decision is a problem for himself and the board.

He even questions Race’s statement that the closure of the forensic unit should not be seen as a harbinger of closure for the rest of the facility.

“If this is the way they do business, what are they going to do next?” he asked.

“There are roughly 440 employees overall on board right now,” Feroz said. “This will take out 40 or 41 employees.”

“Who’s to say… that isn’t going to happen next year” to the remaining 400, he said. “These are good-paying jobs.”

Race said some forensic unit employees may find other employment within the state hospital system. Even if they do, the 41 jobs are lost to the Warren County economy, Feroz said.

“A day for Buskers”

This article was found in the Warren Times-Observer on Saturday, June 29, 2008.  It depicts a street festival with good mental health being it’s central focus.

It was originally found at the following website address … http://timesobserver.com/page/content.detail/id/502840.html?nav=5006

A day for Buskers

By LYDIA COTTRELL lcottrell@timesobserver.com

POSTED: June 27, 2008
The streets of downtown Warren were alive with music and performance Friday as the inaugural Buskers’ Festival ushered in a mentally healthy atmosphere.

Performances began at 1:30 p.m. with groups from the Warren County Summer Music School sharing the skills they spent three weeks refining.

“The kids’ stuff was great,” said Gary Lester, Executive Director of Family Services of Warren County. Lester conceived the idea for the Buskers’ Festival in an attempt to promote mentally healthy activities.

Lester was happy to see the event become a reality. “I think we are onto something here,” he said.

The first run at this was a learning situation, Lester said.

Making his public debut, Lester set up shop in front of the Warren Main Street Building on Second Ave. with his friend and colleague Larry Kappleman. The duo cleverly called themselves The Freudy Cats.

With Kappleman on acoustic guitar and Lester playing the mandolin, the duo lit up the street with renditions of “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals and “Norwegian Wood” by the Beatles.

Although Lester had never performed in public before, he felt it was important to be a part of the Buskers’ Festival.

Admitting that he was nervous, Lester said he was surrounded by a circle of friends for support.

“It’s fun to do music and performance,” he said.

Early in the afternoon, as students from the Allegheny Mountain Martial Arts demonstrated fighting skills in the middle of Liberty Street, a single saxophone played about 20 feet away.

The aroma of popcorn and other vendor foods wafted through the air.

A mime weaved in and out of the crowd and a ventriloquist entertained those standing idle.

In front of the CNB Bank, Jack Eggleston strummed on his guitar and crooned to a captive group. Braidin Stewart, 10-months-old, bounced and clapped as Eggleston played.

The festival continued into the afternoon and early evening. From the intersection of Second Avenue and Liberty Street, the sounds of the entire festival came together with fiddlers from the west, a folk band from the east, acoustic guitar from the south and vocalists from the north.

The notes melted together into one cosmic crescendo.

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