Monday, May 15, 2017

Releasing the Mentally Ill

The AJC 5/14/17 covered the lack of progress made by the State of Georgia to live up to its settlement with the federal government to empty out our mental hospitals and send patients on their way.

In 1992, Bill Clinton was elected and launched into selling Hillary-care.  In 1994, I wrote an article for the Medical Association of Georgia entitled “Your government needs your help”. It was a political humor piece and suggested a “Crazy Person Neighborhood Watch Program” I reposted this today.

In 1962, I had a summer job as a therapist at St. Louis State School and Hospital.  We had 700 patients who were “mentally disabled”, housed in girls’ dorms and boy’s dorms. Keeping them apart was a chore.

We were transitioning them to cottages on the campus and out of the large buildings where they slept in dormitories and spent most of the day in activity rooms. The cottages worked well for patients who could take care of themselves.

We had a large campus that included a dairy, so we served whole milk. We had some patients running the dairy who probably shouldn’t have been admitted as patients.

We had lots of Downs’ Syndrome patients, a few brain injured patients and a schizophrenic, who talked to himself. We also had the hydrocephalic patients and others who were severe and needed to be cared for in the hospital we had on campus. 

Patients were classified as Dull-Normal, Educable, Trainable and Ambulatory Severe, who were all confined to rocking back and forth in their own building and Non-Ambulatory Severe housed in the hospital.

We had a swimming pool and rooms for art, music, a theater with a stage and several school rooms.  Parents visited on the weekends and Patients gave choral performances.  They liked to sing “Daisy Daisy, give me you answer do. I’m half-crazy all for the love of you”. They could never make it past “I’m half crazy” without cracking up. 

A lot of the Downs’ Syndrome patients were smart and helped with the other patients and did clean-up work. But they couldn’t keep up in public school, so these kids either lived at home or at our facility. I got to know these patients over the two summers I worked there. I can’t imagine putting these patients being put on a bus to Macon and being left on their own in a homeless shelter.

Norb Leahy, Dunwoody GA Tea Party Leader

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