Today was a happy day for me. I have recently read the March 5, 2018; article of BENEDICT CAREY of the New York Times, Trump Wants More Asylums – and Some Psychiatrists Agree. Mr. CAREY and I agree. Thank you to Mr. CAREY and the New York Times.
I have worked since the late 1968, in an effort to close all institutions for the developmentally disabled. Within four (4) years [August 1975 to February 1980], the State of New York Legislature failed and refused to provide any money to the Willowbrook Consent Judgment or its arm of the court [Willowbrook Review Panel].
Once the Review Panel was unfunded, all community services for the developmentally disabled (residential and necessary and required services) began to deteriorate. The flood gates are opening to make it unable to recognize or remember community services during a short of four (4) years in the late 1970s. We faced a real opportunity to change the face of the United States but too few were willing, able or fearful.
BENEDICT CAREY’s article breaks down to Dark History; Deinstitutionalization; and, Cost of Care.
The article is opposed to institutionalization and I have always stepped into the fray to close institutions and opening the first system to provide community residential services and homes. Many group homes were opening during a narrow slit of opportunity to see the current and the future.
Under Dark History, Mr. CAREY notes that few experts dispute that: soul-crushing abuses have occurred in mental institutions, and still do, across the world. He provides an outline of the first therapeutic asylums established in Europe at beginning of the 19th century. They were asylums.
“The first mental hospitals intended to provide a humane, protective environment.” But these institutions became repositories for society’s unwanted and adrift, alcoholics, the indigent and vagrant, with those experiencing psychosis and severe mood problems.
Funding tapered off; staffs shrank and inadequate care and treatment skyrocketed to residents required to live in squalid, abusive, dangerous conditions.
For many, there was no path out, nowhere else to go. Hospitalization was a life sentence, or close to it.
“It is hard to describe the smell,” said Robert Rogers, executive director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse. Previously, Mr. Rogers, spent stretches of up to six months on Floridian locked wards after a psychotic episode at age 19.” Geraldo Rivera, a young reporter at WABC – TV
“You’re told when to go to bed, where to go, what to eat and when,” he added.
“By 1960, doctors had the first drug effective – Thorazine.
“The idea was that those released from the institutions would move back into neighborhoods, with easy access to a doctor, therapists, at-home services if needed. The money saved by closing the hospitals would be used to support independent living.”
Mr. CAREY then addresses Deinstitutionalization, making it quite clear and plain, that “State Governments * * * did not make good on promises to provide adequate community care, like well staffed local clinics, supports for housing, employment and daily living.”
In the issue of Cost of Care, Mr. Casey asserts that the point of agreement in the asylum debate “is that money is lacking in a nation that puts mental health at the bottom of the health budget.”
In each issue, everyone must read, understand and reject institutionalization and institutions. In place of institutions, all community services (residential and other services) must be established and maintained for all developmentally disabled.
As compared with an institution and a system of small community neighborhood residential homes and services, it is the large institution that is far more expensive, worst food, worst medical services. Turning an institution into a decent place is all but impossible. Locating and correcting problems that can be found in a group home, can be corrected.
At the only time that the developmentally disabled were offered a full coordinated effort to close all institutions and replace institutions (the humiliating relics) with a new sensible system that the State permitted it to exist and go to full bloom. What we saw and did and began to recognize that it was working and providing a life for many of the developmentally disabled.
This was not a mistake but a longstanding position of the State of PNew York.
We can win this effort but remembering to demand and walk toward our foe. Do not back-up or turn away. If you get tired or need a breather, sit continuingly, facing your goal and continue moving. Those who cannot face reality, step on the sidelines.
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