I suggest a friendly psychiatrist is needed to arrange a nice long vacation for over zealous, if not over worked, Huffington Post blogger DJ Jaffe at some convenient loony bin. He seems to think the closing of Kingsboro Hospital in New York State is a bad idea. He says as much in a post on his blog, Closing New York State Psychiatric Hospitals Is Dangerous. The question is dangerous for whom? People on the inside of such facilities, or people in the imagination of people on the outside of such facilities. I’m thinking he could only think so if he’d never done any serious time in a loony bin himself. The good news is that this is a circumstance we can remedy.
The impact of this insane let-em-lose-to-fend-for-themselves policy is cruel to people with mental illness who desperately need and want treatment. But it’s also dangerous to the public. According to the Daily News, late last month, “A 25-year-old mentally ill Brooklyn man stabbed his mother and kid brother and beat them with a hammer.” Near where Buffalo Psychiatric Center reduced beds, 6,300 homes experienced a blackout when a recently released allegedly mentally ill man used a chain saw to cut down utility poles. Near where Rockland Psychiatric Center reduced beds, police rescued a suicidal mentally ill man who was off medications, barricaded in his home and brandishing a pellet gun. And earlier this month, between where Rockland County Psychiatric Center and Hudson River Psychiatric Center reduced beds police shot and killed allegedly mentally ill Tim Mulqeen who brought a loaded shotgun and 50 rounds of ammunition to a city court.
According to Mr. Jaffe serious mental illnesses make people commit fratricide as well as vandalize massive amounts of property. I think he needs to draw a sharper line here between what constitutes symptoms of disease and what constitutes criminal behaviors. He also thinks that emotional disturbance can make people stand in the path of oncoming police bullets. Mr. Jaffe obviously doesn’t understand where people on the sedated side of the nurse’s station are coming from.
When will this madness end? New York went from 599 psychiatric beds per 100,000 citizens down to twenty eight. And the new closures take us even lower. OMH is simply transferring the seriously ill to the criminal justice system. New York incarcerated 14,000 people with serious mental illness largely because OMH only has beds for 3,600. There are more mentally ill in a single jail, Riker’s Island, than all state hospitals combined. The most conservative estimates are that if New York had the best community services available — and we don’t — it would still need 4,311 more hospital beds to meet the minimum needs of seriously mentally ill New Yorkers.
Talk about adopting a shrill hysterical tone! I think we’ve got just the thing for your madness, DJ. Nurse, how about 250 mg. of haldol pronto!? And some goons to make sure it gets into his posterior!?
One would think ensuring the seriously mentally ill get treatment would be the core mission of the Office of Mental Health. But it hasn’t been ever since Michael Hogan was appointed commissioner. His stated goal is to “create hope filled, humanized environments and relationships in which people can grow” not getting medications to the seriously mentally ill. One can understand what drives his hospital closure policy — “Hey Gov., look how much money I’m saving!” But it’s harder to understand how Cuomo doesn’t recognize the impact on people with serious mental illness, public safety, and how Hogan’s efforts to save OMH money are costing the criminal justice system and the state much more.
Let’s, please, give Mr. Jaffe a taste of his own medicine, and if he can’t take it, well, he certainly shouldn’t be dishing it out. His math is less than amazing, for one thing, I think his condition must be on a downward slide. Least restrictive care in a community setting is actually preventative, and therefore, a real money saver. This man is deluded, and he lacks insight into the nature of his disorder. He’s paranoid. I’m afraid he’s going to hurt somebody. He sees crazy people committing atrocities everywhere he goes. He’s sees crazy people when there aren’t any crazy people there. He’s even gone so far as to project his own “mental illness” onto government officials in the state of New York. He needs help. Let’s get him some. We can’t have somebody like him roaming the streets, now, can we?