After a 36-year career in the mental health field, I would like to share my thoughts on the recent news story about the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center.
I have worked at both Samaritan Medical Center and Mercy Hospital in various capacities to include the emergency room, outpatient coordinator and supervisor of emergency services. I also worked at the Jefferson County Jail performing mental health evaluations.
It is my opinion that closing the inpatient child and adult services at the SLPC will have an enormous negative impact on the residents in our tri-county area.
When a family brings a child to the emergency room for mental health services, their anxiety level is high. If the determination was made to admit the child to the SLPC, parents/family members could be assured that their child would be seen by dedicated and caring staff. If the family could not make the trip to the SLPC, they would be referred to different agencies for assistance/help.
Tri-county adult residents with mental health issues generally do not do well if living alone in the community. They are often taken advantage of, routinely miss medical appointments and dont stay on their medications.
They often need long-term inpatient hospitalization/care to have any quality of life. Long-term care provides them with quality care by caring staff, structured activities, socialization events, proof of taking their medication and regular appointments with their doctor, all having a positive impact in their lives.
No one enters the mental health field to get rich. In life and after working in the field, I know that no one really wants to be a jerk, no one wants to be poor and no one wants to be mentally ill.
Throughout my working life, I and other co-workers, staff, etc., always treated all patients with dignity and respect. My mantra was and always will be that these people are someones family member and deserve to be acknowledged as valued individuals, as anyone with a non-mental illness would be.
All current services at the SLPC are needed. Please contact your congressional representative and stand up for the SLPC.