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Plan To Close Mental Institutions A Mistake

January 22, 2015
Emmetsburg News

Letter to the Editor:

I recently read of Governor Branstad's plan to close two (2) of Iowa's three (3) mental institutions. That is a mistake unless his plan provides for the replacement of those mental health beds that would be eliminated.

As a former Judge, I have sat in an emergency hospital conference room at 1:00 a.m. with the parents, spouse, or child of a mentally disturbed patient where no bed space is available to place that mentally disturbed person. Often times, these people are a danger to themselves or other family members and it is frustrating not to be able to find a placement for them.

You need to understand that, in most cases, a family member does not start the mental placement proceeding (involuntary mental health commitment) until it is obvious to all involved that a mental health commitment is necessary. What do you do if no bed placement is available? Send them back home with the family members that are trying to get them help?

Please do not limit the number of beds available to our care providers, courts or family members (tax payers) -- that would be a big mistake.

Remember -- jail is not an option until they commit a crime -- which they most likely will do if you do not get them help.

Yours very truly,

(signed) Donald J. Bormann

Emmetsburg, IA



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