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State shirking responsibility by closing mental health center

Sunday, May 22, 2005
Special to
by Lil Doody, RN
Letter to the Editor

If the governor wonders why his popularity is slipping in Illinois, it's disregard for the basic
needs of the citizens of Illinois. Cook County cannot allow the state to close the Tinley Park
Mental Health Center and force the patients and their families to travel to the Northwest and West sides of the city. The plan to bar the use of Tinley Park to residents of Chicago (many South Siders) addressed in Larry Suffredin's article (May 18) was right on target.

The state should bear the responsibility for caring for the mentally ill, not Cook County. But
someone has to accept the responsibility, and jails are the last resort. The mentally ill when
psychotic are often unable to make good choices to their care and treatment, and others (family or health care professionals) must make choices for them until they are stabilized. Some patients do not respond well to community-based treatment and need long-term care.

The private hospitals are under tremendous pressure to get the mentally ill back into the community and don't give them the time to heal that a state facility is able to. Some patients need time and structure. Talk to any family member who loves someone with a mental illness; the stories they can tell will break your heart.

If TPMHC is sold, then we need to put intense pressure on the state and the governor to put all the proceeds from the sale right back into mental health for Illinois and not to balance a bloated
budget that has been out of control. Mental health services in Illinois are some of the worst in
the country, and we in Cook County need to do whatever it takes to make them better.

Please keep writing about this.

Lil Doody, RN

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