By J. Coyden Palmer, Chicago Crusader
The Chicago Crusader published a story in December about the changes coming to one of the few remaining mental health clinics in the city. As the Crusader’s press deadline approached, this reporter was unable to reach Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) in whose ward the Roseland Mental Health Clinic, the subject of the story, is located. The Crusader printed the story without his comments. Beale objected to some information the story contained and was offered the opportunity to respond. He accepted the invitation and visited the Crusader’s office on Jan. 5th to provide more details on what is happening at the Roseland Mental Health Clinic.
The Cook County Health and Hospital System will now manage the Roseland Mental Health Clinic. Beale said having the Cook County Health and Hospital System take over the clinic will benefit the community more, because they have more resources and will be able to handle more patients. He said the unique thing about the clinic is that it will house a 24-hour mental health triage team, meaning police who encounter mentally unstable people on the streets can bring them to the clinic instead of taking them to jail.
“We have a big mental health problem in my ward and this is a tool we can use to address the problem,” Beale said. “We need to get the people the help they need. It makes the job less dangerous for our officers and increases public safety.”
The Crusader questioned Beale if he was concerned or not about the county contracting some of the services out to the non-profit entity, Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4), which in May, 2015 closed its doors on its North Side clinic.
Beale said that like anything else when a deal is made, you have to watch the people you contract with. Back in April of 2016, Beale said he would evaluate the situation for a year and then decide if the contract with the county should be renewed. He reiterated that point last week.
“I want to see progress. If I see the same person on the block consistently who I know is in need of mental health treatment, well that’s a sign that things aren’t going well,” he said. “I’ve made it clear the contract renewal is not guaranteed, and will be based on performance.”
Beale spokesperson Brian Berg added that C4 has a “good track record of providing mental health care services in communities on the North Side.” He said the city and county had worked together to ensure a smooth transition for all clients, which has included phone calls, letters and other forms of communication to let people know what is happening.
Beale claimed that he was unaware that C4 had closed one of its facilities on the North Side without warning, unexpectedly leaving hundreds of patients with nowhere to go. He said during the meeting with the Crusader that he will now keep an eye on the company. Both he and Berg added that closure of the Roseland Mental Health Clinic will not happen because of an agreement between the county and city that requires the clinic to remain in operation and that all current clients will be seen at the new facility for as long as they require services.
In the Crusader article, a proposed ordinance by Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) was mentioned that would provide some protections to mental health patients. Support for the ordinance was signed by 31 of 50 aldermen, but Beale was not one of them. He said he had no knowledge of the proposed ordinance sponsored by Ervin. The ordinance has not been presented to the full City Council.
Beale said it is important to note that the clinic will now be able to serve youth patients, which is an expansion of services at the Roseland location.