A State of Mind
Thirty-five years old and mentally ill. Sarah is one of hundreds and thousands of people who suffer with debilitating forms of mental illness. Until a few years ago, Sarah, and many others like her were housed in institutions regulated by the State of Connecticut. Burdensome and expensive, these facilities were closed leaving patients to make their own way in a complicated world. The results were devastating. Thousands of mentally ill patients were left untreated and uncared for. Homeless and unable to hold down jobs, many patients took cover in shelters and turned to the streets for survival. Why has the State turned their back on this population in need?
Seven years ago, my organization, Olympus Healthcare, took to the task of providing care for mentally ill patients. Licensed as a long-term care organization, we were immediately challenged by federal and state regulations. Nursing homes have long been the solution for geriatric residential care.
The mid-seventies witnessed abuse and neglect of these residents, forcing state and federal agencies to stand up and take notice. As a result, statues were mandated and long-term care became regulated under the Public Health code. These regulations serve most residents well, but often fall short in caring for individuals with mental illness.
Despite the challenges, my organization moved to develop programs and treatment plans for a variety of behavioral health disorders. Psychologists and psychiatrists were hired to treat and care for our growing population. Hospitals across the State were exhilarated to find a discharge option other than local shelters. Patients were admitted to our programs, treated, and often discharged to group homes or other appropriate settings. In a relatively short period of time, our beds were filled and waiting lists grew. We had managed to operate a behavioral health program...