I am a Board Certified psychiatrist and I have been in the private practice of psychiatry in the Rockford area for 30 years. During this time I have also served as medical director of psychiatry at SwedishAmerican and Rockford Memorial hospitals. I have worked part-time at Rosecrance at the Ware Center and Belvidere locations (formerly Janet Wattles Center) and continue to do so at the present time. I am also currently helping out on a part-time basis at Singer Mental Health Center. I am also a former recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist of the Year Award given by NAMI.
It is my sincere belief that Singer must remain open. Singer serves a unique population of patients drawn from a 21-county area that no other facility can accommodate.
This population includes: 1) the most severely ill patients; 2) the NGRIs (not guilty by reason of insanity) and UST (unfit to stand trial); and 3) the indigent, homeless mentally ill who cannot be served in another setting.
There is not only the need to keep Singer open as is, but also to expand it and open two more units to accommodate a large number of forensic patients who are currently in jail awaiting trial. This would relieve overcrowding and backlog in jails and court systems and get the patients the treatment they need and deserve.
Singer is fully accredited by JCAHO (the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations) and other state and federal hospital accrediting bodies, such as Medicare and Medicaid, and has been for several years. It has a fine and excellent staff that is very dedicated to providing high-quality care for the patients. The hospital facility is built solidly and well spread out on twenty-five acres of well-maintained property. It would be a shame to close a well-built hospital facility such as Singer.
The Community Mental Health Act was enacted in 1963 during the Kennedy administration with very honorable intentions to provide high-quality mental health care to indigent and low-income populations for the most part, but also to middle-income patients who couldn’t afford care in the private sector. This included both inpatient and outpatient care.
Initially this system of mental health care worked out very well. However, as time went on, for a variety of reasons, the community mental health system in the United States became less and less able to deliver care to those most in need of the services. More and more programs were discontinued. Fewer people had access to services. More and more people did not meet criteria for services. The private sector tried to pick up some of the slack but both systems were overloaded with patients. Many patients ended up in the criminal justice system.
This is the perfect time for all sectors of our community to join together and work together with a comprehensive plan to coordinate the treatment of the most underserved and neglected members of our society.
It is time for the Public and Private providers to really utilize their talents and work cooperatively rather than as separate entities with different goals and objectives. This was what Community Mental Health was envisioned to be in the first place.
Anthony B. D’Souza, M.D., psychiatry, of Rockford is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology Certified in Addiction Medicine by the American Society of Addiction Medicine.