State psychiatric hospitals will begin turning away new patients on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, in response to emergency budget cuts issued earlier this month by Gov. Mitt Romney. The cuts will force the elimination of 170 Department of Mental Health staff positions, including staffers who provide care to hundreds of emotionally disturbed children and teens.A few days later, the rationale for budget cuts further restricting winter bed spaces in Massachusetts homeless shelters was blamed on "...some idiotic state bureaucrat couldn't see the people through the numbers and should probably be stripped of his or her calculator before doing similar damage. It means that the governor's constant religiosity should include a little more compassion for the poor and a little less zeal against gay marriage." but what else can we expect.
Representatives of the Massachusetts Hospital Association and the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems said they were informed of the moratorium on new patients by Mental Health Commissioner Beth Childs on Friday. Besides barring new inpatient admissions to mental health facilities, Child's department will also restrict access to residential programs, advocates said.
"These are the unkindest cuts imaginable, and their timing is hard to fathom," Massachusetts Hospital Association President Ron Hollander said in a written statement. "We implore the governor to restore these essential services to the people who depend on DMH."
David Matteodo, head of the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems, said the chronically and severely disabled will be denied the critical care they need. "That is the harsh consequence of these cuts, which will be imposed on a mental health system that is already under tremendous strain," he said.