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    By Amy and Bernadette
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No Need for Blame

Blame. We all are familiar with it. We all have experienced it. And yet, somehow most of us grow beyond blaming another and blaming ourselves. We realize that so much more can be gained if we skip the blaming.

And so much more would be gained if all the blaming about whose fault it was that the national health insurance website got off to such a shaky start ended and we all turned our energies to seeing that the website got fixed and to helping people access it easily and quickly.

What would be gained?

People who have not been able to have insurance up to this time would be able to sign up for it.

And people who are struggling with mental illness would be able to seek the needed treatment without worry.

And that’s just the beginning of the good that could come out of the Affordable Care Act.

Let’s stop blaming and instead let’s band together as the community we should be to help one another no matter the mistakes of the past.

– Bernadette

Psychiatric Treatment: This is the best we can do?

Biggs Forensic Center image credit to missourinet.com

Biggs Forensic Center
image credit to missourinet.com

The Kansas City Star ran a piece on Saturday about the Biggs Forensic Center at Fulton State Hospital, which houses patients with mental illnesses from throughout Missouri. With portions of the building dating to the 19th century, the archaic facility is a travesty.

A few details about Biggs/Fulton:
-no air conditioning
-exposed asbestos
-kitchen equipment repurposed from a Korean War-era Navy battleship
-low ceilings that offer places for contraband to be stashed, and which provide metal strips that can be used as weapons
-construction materials that often lead to a deafening sound level. “One of the tragedies about people with serious mental illnesses,” says Keith Schafer, director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, “is that noise is one of the things that’s very hard for them to deal with. So it’s really a terrible treatment location.”
-a nursing department that is 40% understaffed
-employee worker’s compensations claims worth $4.3 million in 2013. “If an employee sticks around Fulton long enough,” says Schafer, “serious injury is almost assured.”

This is the state to which we relegate people who, due to chemical imbalance, trauma, or neurological dysfunction, suffer from serious brain illnesses. Missouri legislators “continue to debate replacing Fulton hospital.” There’s nothing to debate.

But lawmakers are too busy trying to find ways around the Affordable Care Act, which is the law of the land, passed by the process created by the glorious founding fathers they’re so fond of harking back to. These same lawmakers are too busy trying to legislate health care decisions for women. They have no time for people who need intensive, long-term treatment for brain illness.

It’s a shameful state of affairs. Human beings, by the mere fact of their existence, deserve up-to-date, safe health care, whatever their diagnosis.