Closing Allentown State Hospital is long overdue. It should close, not because the cost of over $35,000 per year per patient is outrageous; it should close, not because warehousing people who have not families or community supports is a leftover from the 19th century; it should close, not because the mentally ill need to be controlled; it should close because the test of a society is how it takes care of those who cannot care for themselves. Insane asylums must end! Patients with illness should be in their neighborhoods with the supports that help them lead meaningful and productive lives
dr. ledebur, thanks for your input from the philadelphia area. the states definition of "severe" keeps changing. the 174 patients remaining here are severe by any standards. i can testify that earlier expulsions from the hospital, in the 80's, resulted in homeless on hamilton street, and former patients living in center city apartments with no supervision. later expulsions of more complex cases went to group homes. would i prefer a family member in a group home vs. an institution, certainly. however, there are those whose needs are so profound, a hospital setting best suits them. this characterizes the population remaining at this hospital here in allentown.
MM -The sad fact is that few of these patients will actually be put back into "their neighborhoods" or the neighborhoods of their families.They will be cut loose and congregate in Allentown, a city whose neighborhoods already bear their fair share of those dependent on government and other assistance.Overall, it will be just another unintended consequence of Progressive politics. Thanks to Governor Rendell and Mayor Pawlowski for all their help.
MM - I couldn't agree more with your editorial. If the state has more of an interest in managing liquor and gambling instead of helping the most needy members of society, then I'm not sure it's even beneficial to HAVE a state. Already, police in Allentown cannot manage the crime problem. The city itself has made it known that homelessness is already a problem. (Witness the new homeless shelters being added to center city.) We are overwhelmed with folks who have learned to use the welfare system to perpetuate their own bad habits. ASD is probably the worst school district in the state, if not the nation. NOW, on top of these overwhelming obstacles, we are going to dump the mentally ill on a society that does not care about their well being and cannot possibly cope with the ramifications of putting these individuals on the street.While Gary Ledebur's intentions are the very best, I'm sure, the reality of this situation is we are kicking the extremely mentally ill to the curb. And, of course we would, because they cannot defend themselves. This is further proof that our state does not exist to serve the needs of its constituents - it only exists to serve the wants of our so-called civil servants.
monkey mama, we are in agreement with the premise, but not the specifics. the state sees us as revenue.those remaining 174 patients are too "involved" to be put out on the street, or they would have been there already. even the ones which were put out on the street 10 years ago, were not capable of being on their own. as a landlord, i was approached dozens of times by social workers to accept them as tenants, essentially making the landlord a caregiver.the next thing to go will be cedarbrook and gracedale. here again, they serve an essential service for those with no alternatives.
Surely you are not saying that we should warehouse citizens in asylums simply because we cannot find homes for them. I have spent much time in Allentown State Hospital and other similar institutions and I would never permit any of my family to be placed there. By the way I checked it out and it costs over $67,500 per patient. Outrageous. Surely you do not support keeping patients there simply because we have trouble finding housing. They are in the institution not because they are too sick but because they have no family and we have not found proper care and support for them. If there is to be a fight, it should be to help our citizens with mental illness have better services not to continue warehousing them at an outrageous cost.
gary, in the morning call articles, several parents of patients are quoted as being disturbed that the facility is closing. so that at least in some cases there are family members and this 'institution" is their place of choice. one father mentioned that his son didn't adjust as well in other settings, including group homes. i can accept the premise that generally a group home is better than an institution, but i doubt if it is true in every case. would you argue that if both the patient and family prefer the allentown state hospital, that patient is still better off in a group home despite their wishes?
In thirty years of working with children and adults with psychiatric problems I have never found one that would be better of living in a state institution as opposed to a caring community group home. Absolutely none. As to parents wanting children in an institution, well they are either not informed nor not being helped. I remember when some husbands wanted their wives in state hospitals. We no longer do that.
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