National Nurses United

National Nurse Magazine March 2012

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 3 of 23

NEWS BRIEFS families who would have to travel more than 55 miles to visit and participate in recovery. They said that without Taunton State, access to inpatient beds would worsen in the region, causing emergency rooms, acute-care facilities, and jails to become even more overloaded with patients who need mental healthcare. ���You are here today to stand up for individuals suffering from mental illness, people who have no voice for themselves, let us not forget that,��� said Senate Majority Whip Harriette Chandler, representing Worcester. ���The closure of Taunton State Hospital is a cold-hearted and dangerous decision that will have devastating consequences,��� said Karen Coughlin, who worked as a registered nurse at the hospital for 28 years and is now vice president of the Massachusetts Nurses Association. A woman with a son at Taunton State Hospital and another with an aunt at Taunton State each spoke about what kind of hardship shipping beds to Worcester or Tewksbury would have on their loved ones and the strain it would put on their families. Mary Clement and Timothy Grabosky, two former patients at Taunton State, each spoke fondly about the mental health facility and pointed out the importance of having it wihin the southeastern Massachusetts community. ���I would not be standing here today if it weren���t for Taunton State Hospital,��� Grabosky said. ���If you want evidence of our mental health system���s failure, come to any emergency room at any time any day, and ask how many psychiatric patients we are treating,��� Stacey McEachern, an MNA/NNU member and 12-year RN in Quincy Medical Center���s emergency room, told the crowd. ���Any official with the Department of Mental Health, from the commissioner on down, who claims that we are doing right by our mentally ill, that we are providing adequate care for our mentally ill, and worse, that we can afford to lose even one more psychiatric bed in our system, is not only lying to themselves and the public, but should be ashamed of themselves. These people shouldn���t be in our EDs, at least not for days and certainly not for a week or weeks. It���s criminal, it���s a travesty,��� McEachern concluded. ���David Schildmeier Massachusetts Nurses Act to Block Closure of State Mental Hospital, Call for Study of the System I MASSACHUSETTS n the wake of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick���s plan to close Taunton State Hospital and what many state legislators and mental health advocates are calling a ���mental health crisis��� in Massachusetts, more than 600 people, many of them chanting ���Stop and study,��� gathered in a State House auditorium in March to demand that Patrick���s administration delay the closing of the facility until a thorough study is made of the state���s mental health system. The rally, which was organized by state Sen. Marc Pacheco and House Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad, with assistance from the Massachusetts Nurses Association/NNU, featured speeches from legislators on both sides of the aisle, mental health advocates, MNA/NNU nurses, other workers, labor leaders, and former patients of Taunton State Hospital. Throughout the state, mental health services are inadequate and those seeking treatment are often unable to access care. Hospital emergency departments are overcrowded with psychiatric patients who cannot access needed inpatient and community services, resulting in patients boarding in hospital emergency rooms for days or even weeks waiting for care. Patients are being inappropriately admitted to medical units because there is no place for them to go, while others are languishing 4 N AT I O N A L N U R S E in homeless shelters or finding themselves trapped in correctional facilities for want of appropriate treatment and community support services. To address this crisis, legislators have crafted an amendment to the state budget that would halt the closure of Taunton State Hospital, and other inpatient services until an independent study is conducted to determine the actual need for and availability of inpatient and community services and supports. The rally lasted nearly three hours and, on several occasions, elicited raucous applause and chants of ���stop and study.��� About 150 nurses, workers, and supporters held signs that read, ���Save Taunton State,��� and ���I have a right to mental health services in my community,��� along with ���Mental health care for all, make parity a reality,��� and ���We need care in our communities, not in emergency rooms.��� The rally received widespread support from legislators not only from the Taunton region, but from central Massachusetts, Cape Cod, and the Islands. In addition to legislators, speaking at the rally were former mental health patients, relatives of patients, a district attorney, the mayors of Taunton and Worcester, and mental health workers. They all discussed the hardship that will be created by Patrick���s plans to move Taunton State���s 169 beds to a new Worcester State Hospital and a facility in Tewksbury. The political leaders and protesters at the rally said that it was unfair to force patients into a new facility, causing a strain on their W W W. N A T I O N A L N U R S E S U N I T E D . O R G MARCH 2012

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of National Nurses United - National Nurse Magazine March 2012