To the editor:
We've read about a bereaved mother's lawsuit with Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Bert Nash and others to deliver a wakeup call about the need for in-patient mental health services in Lawrence. LMH stated that past data indicate the census was too low to justify reopening a unit.
We've read about mentally ill inmates languishing in our jail for lack of beds in the state hospital. Circumstances for a suicidal inmate, in the interest of safety, are disquieting - not from malice, but because it isn't a hospital and corrections officers aren't clinically trained mental health professionals.
We've read about conditions of "filth, frigid showers" and other horrible conditions at Larned State Hospital.
The great experiment by Ronald Reagan to close most of the nation's mental health hospitals has proven to be one of the great fiascoes of our time. Community mental health has a clear role, but in-patient hospitals also are a necessary part of mental health services for those whose needs surpass what a community can provide.
Seems that doing the right thing has been subjugated by the bottom line. One wonders if the ethic "First, do no harm" has a place at the table of CEOs and CFOs who debate the financial viability of helping people at what is likely the most terrifying and vulnerable times of their lives. LMH needs to do better than what they now offer. There is a lost daughter as evidence, and one lost daughter is enough proof of need.