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Another Chicago Mental Health Center Closes

By aaroncynic in News on Jul 29, 2012 7:45PM

Aaron Cynic
Another mental health clinic in Chicago has shut its doors due to lack of funding. The Community Mental Health Council, the largest clinic on the South Side located on 87th Street near Stony Island, quietly began closing last month, according to ABC7. Citing “fiscal mismanagement and eventual insolvency,” the Illinois Department of Human Services dropped the facility's contract, cutting its funding to zero. Even though the facility has been shut down for the most part, patients have still shown up for treatment.

Dr. Carl C. Bell, who founded the clinic 37 years ago, is still working at the facility, attempting to find alternative places for treatment for nearly 1,000 patients. Bell blames the state's backlog of bills for some of the clinic's financial woes. “Our difficulties began two years ago, when the state began slow paying. It caused all kinds of ramifications,” Bell told the Sun Times. “We’ve been gradually dwindling as the funding stream dried up, because we couldn’t pay people. I think my staff got paid in December, maybe March, but some kept working.”

The Community Mental Health Council's closure is just the latest in a string of facility closures that have left thousands of patients either displaced or without regular, accessible treatment. Clinics in Woodlawn and Logan Square shut down earlier this year along with four others. Patients, doctors and community activists from organizations like the Mental Health Movement and Occupy Chicago set up camps outside the clinics in Logan Square and Woodlawn in order to draw attention to the continued crumbling of the city's mental health care infrastructure.

Moab Jones, a patient from one of the closed city clinics to the state-funded one on 87th street told ABC7, “"By this place closing and I come down here actually for nothing makes me more angry.” Another patient, Andre Herring, said “It hurts me right now why they're closing it down. That brings tears to my eyes because that was my support. That was my support.”

Community activists have been calling for the resignation of Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair. In June, six were arrested during a sit-in at his offices, and on Friday, activists once again held a press conference at the offices at 333 S. State Street. Illinois State Senator Donne Trotter said the state is also to blame for not properly coordinating with the city. Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, an activist with the Mental Health Movement said “one of the core functions of public health is to be looking over the system” and that “there's no leadership, there's no comprehensive planning taking place” in the city and state's mental health system.