Advocacy E-News December 1, 2014
December 1, 2014
RESIDENTS WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS REPEATEDLY VICTIMIZED
After his release from Trenton Psychiatric Hospital he lived in city housing where residents were repeatedly victimized for at least a year and a half before police were hired to guard the property. About a month before his death, he was moved to South Broad Street, where he was no longer protected by people who understood his mental state. That left him vulnerable to gang members, drug dealers and other street hustlers who saw an opportunity to take advantage of him, according to family and friends.
BILL WOULD REQUIRE N.J. PRISONS TO LIMIT SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
A state lawmaker will introduce legislation Monday to significantly reduce the use of solitary confinement in New Jersey’s prisons amid nationwide push to curtail the practice. It would require that an inmate receive a medical and mental health evaluation before being isolated, and be assessed by a clinician on a daily basis. Advocates for the measure say the practice of solitary confinement and isolation is inhumane. They cite research showing that isolating prisoners for more than two weeks can have serious negative effects in mental health, particularly among adolescent inmates.
NJ CLAIMED EXCESSIVE MEDICAID PAYMENTS FOR PSYCH FACILITIES
The New Jersey Department of Human Services (State agency) claimed Federal reimbursement for certainDisproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments. The State agency claimed DSH payments totaling $23.7 million that exceeded five county-operated psychiatric facilities’ hospital-specific limits. The remaining DSH payments totaling $247.4 million ($123.7 million Federal share) were equal to or less than the hospital-specific limits. The overpayments occurred because the State agency had not established procedures for reconciling and adjusting the facilities’ expenditures to ensure that DSH payments did not exceed hospital-specific limits.
We recommended that the State agency (1) refund $11.9 million to the Federal Government and (2) establish procedures for reconciling and adjusting the county-operated psychiatric facilities’ expenditures to ensure that the facilities’ DSH payments do not exceed hospital-specific limits. The State agency did not concur with our first recommendation.
CLOSING OF ST. LUKE’S BEHAVIORAL UNIT DESERVED A SOFTER LANDING
St. Luke’s University Health Network spent the better part of two years undergoing reviews and meeting state requirements to get approval to close the behavioral health unit at its hospital in Phillipsburg. Then it sent out an email at 5 p.m. on a Friday to announce voluntary mental-health admissions would cease Dec. 1. Ten days’ notice. The closing of Warren County’s only inpatient behavioral health facility comes as no surprise, but the abruptness of the cutoff left mental health advocates and law enforcement officials scrambling to understand and deal with the change. The community deserved better. So did patients and their families, who will have to adapt to transfers to inpatient psychiatric facilities elsewhere in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
MORE PASTORS EMBRACE TALK OF MENTAL ILLS
In a study by a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor University, 71 percent of Baptist pastors said they were unable to recognize mental illness. This month, a mental health advisory group offered a variety of proposals to help Southern Baptist congregants and their families with mental health challenges, the first time the church has addressed the subject in a direct and comprehensive manner. The proposals include providing churches with a database of Christian counselors and mental health providers, and offering more robust education about mental health in seminaries and at Christian colleges.
RESTORING LOST NAMES, RECAPTURING LOST DIGNITY
An obscure gravedigger has come to represent the 55,000 other people buried on the grounds of old psychiatric hospitals across New York State , many of them identified only by numbers. This numerical system, used by other states as well, was apparently meant to spare the living and the dead from the shame of one’s surname etched in stone in a psychiatric hospital cemetery.