Monroe: Protesters Upset with Closing of Mental Health Clinics
By Angelica Robinson and Josclynn Brandon
The Red Line Project
Posted: Friday, May 4, 2012
A day before Occupy protestors took to the downtown Chicago streets for the May Day protests, several of them flooded City Hall to voice concerns over the upcoming closing of six public mental health clinics in the area.
Protesters demanded that Mayor Rahm Emanuel reverse the decision to close six clinics during a press conference in front of City Hall. Several protestors staged a sit-in outside of Emanuel's office earlier in the day.
La’Dana Carter has been at the forefront of the fight to keep the clinics open. She said the protest was an escalation of numerous attempts to reach out to Emanuel and his administration.
“For three years we have been trying to keep all public clinics public,” Carter said. “This has been an on going with a refusal to even hear the voice of the people”
Emanuel has said closing the clinics will ultimately result in better care for mentally ill. But Paul Nappier of the Illinois Nurses Association doesn’t agree. He said making the public clinics private will result in laying off nurses and leaves mental health patients without affordable care.
“Emanuel and his treatment of healthcare is in a state of chaos,” he said.
According to Nappier, there is no clear plan on how the plan to transition the patients into new healthcare providers. People who use the public clinics will have to find private healthcare providers.
Because many of the consumers may have to relocate, the city has offered free CTA passes for individuals affected --- a gesture Nappier said isn’t enough.
“The foundation of our society in terms of health care are nurses,” he said. “The city is throwing them on the streets just like they are throwing the mental health consumers on to the streets.”
During the sit-in, some demanded to speak with the Emanuel himself, which resulted in the arrest of six mental protesters. They were ticketed and will be required to appear in court.
Public Health Nurse Arlene Wilson said she is upset because she feels the government is ignoring the need for affordable public health care.
“We need affordable clinics,” Wilson said. “Public health clinics provide all communities, black, Hispanic, white, communities, with affordable healthcare.”
Wilson said she will not rest until the affordable public health care provided by these clinics.
“There are many people in our community who have mental health issues that need to be addressed,” she said. “That is why we are out here, we are fighting for it, and even though the clinics are closed, we are going to keep on fighting.”