I know it will surprise many of the mentally-ill former patients I see wandering our neighborhood streets all day and sleeping under the expressway at night. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's closing of our local mental health clinic as well as more than half the clinics around the city, actually helped the mentally ill. That's right, less is more claims the mayor's public health commish, Dr. Julie Morita in today's Tribune.
And as for all of us who protested the closings (I can still remember Rahm screaming at the protesting public health activists, "You're gonna respect me!") and are still carping about them six years later, well we obviously just failed to see the beauty in the closings of clinics and schools and other public services. Yes, if you squint your eyes a little, austerity is a beautiful thing.
“Since then there has been a lot of discussion of the attribution of social ills to the consolidation of the clinics. What we know now … is that because we were able to focus in and provide, we weren’t putting out fires at the 12 clinics, we were actually able to think strategically about what is the mental health system in the city of Chicago?” Morita said.
Isn't it clear? Fewer clinics, fewer fires to put out. Makes sense I suppose, if you're running the fire department.
|Protests against the closings rocked City Hall|
One of those who fail to see the light is our alderman, Scott Waguespack.
“If you look at what we were asking in the budget the next year, it was essentially, ‘Where did all those people go, and where’s the data to show they made it to another clinic?’” Waguespack said. “So this was a cost-saving measure, a lot of those people ended up on the streets and I have to disagree this was just (a situation where) everybody made it to somewhere else and everybody was A-OK where they ended up.”
More from the Trib:
It’s been an ongoing fight for years. Emanuel closed six city-run clinics with employees who were AFSCME members and instead contracted with four private organizations to provide some of the services. A seventh city clinic later closed as well. The city continues to operate five mental health clinics.
So you see, Dr. Morita is right. The closings were a win-win. The mayor got rid of union jobs and the patients were liberated from their local clinic and are now free to find transportation across town to try and get the help they need from clinicians who are paid less, work longer hours and who are perfect strangers.
Thank you, Mr. Mayor and Dr. Morita. Don't know why it took me so long to appreciate your brilliance.