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Mental health services

Editor: The story, "Mental health: revisited through the courtroom" (May 1990, p. 25), failed to include the vast improvements the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities has made to curtail abuse and neglect at state operated facilities.

The article quotes Cook County Circuit Judge Marjan Staniec calling upon the department to correct deficiencies. But the department, aided by state and federal lawmakers as well as mental health and developmental disability advocates, has already implemented virtually all the called for improvements.

Since 1987, participation in intensive abuse and neglect training is required for every employee. The department's Office of the Inspector General investigates every allegation of abuse or neglect. Staff to patient ratios have consistently improved and should reach 1.6 staff to every patient by the end of June.

Most people receiving services funded by the department are served in their communities. The department is committed to this concept, and the proposed budget for fiscal year 1991 shows the largest percentage of overall funding ever for community and home-based services.

While the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities has made numerous improvements over the past few years, we acknowledge that further improvments are warranted. However, without adequate funding, the staff to resident ratio at state facilities and the concomitant level of care cannot be maintained. Without adequate funding, the department will not be able to fulfill its commitment to the federal government to provide better services and living arrangements to people inappropriately placed in nursing homes. Nor will the department be able to prevent dedicated workers from being forced to leave community mental health centers. For these reasons the department will continue to advocate for increased funding for services for persons with mental disabilities.

William K. Murphy
Acting Director
Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities

Correction: Geneva is the county seat of Kane County, not Elgin as incorrectly stated in the May magazine's explanation of the cover photo of Elgin. Patrick Simmons of the United Transportation Union was the first reader to note the mistake.

The Editor

10/June 1990/Illinois Issues

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