Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Newly Opened Detroit Hospital for the Mentally Ill

When I first read about the construction of Circle of Life, a behavioral hospital set to open its doors in 2004 in downtown Detroit, I have to admit: I was more than a little skeptical.

Beginning in 1991, Michigan's government
fought to close (yes, you read that right) the state's 12 mental hospitals. In what it deemed as the best way to "bring the deficit down", the government, led by John Engler, succeeded as the last mental hospital in Metro Detroit - located in Northville - closed its doors. Luckily, Engler ran into a little road block called term limits, and Jennifer Granholm - the newly-elected governor - created a task force on mental health just weeks after she took office.

Mentally ill adults and children, though, were still confronted with the fact that the only available public mental health care available in Metro Detroit was the Walter P. Reuther Psychiatric Hospital in Westland for adults, or Hawthorne Center in Livonia for children.

Considering that the majority of seriously mentally ill people do not have the ability nor conscientiousness about their disease or condition to get themselves to a mental hospital (take a walk or drive around downtown Detroit and you'll see quite a few mentally ill people haphazardly walking the streets), it is absolutely
absurd to believe that they would be able to get to Walter Reuther Hospital - a 30-minute drive from downtown. They cannot really go to ER's anymore, either; the decade of downsizing of mental hospitals in Metro Detroit has caused an increase of 45% in the number of mentally ill patients going to the ER departments of public hospitals. As a result of this increase, there are now increased waiting times, errors in diagnosis, and many more negative effects. So, basically, at the end of 2002, our mental health system was under suffering severely.

But then, almost out of nowhere, an investor decided to buy the old Saratoga Hospital on Gratiot, which he planned to turn into an office building. However, in a surprising and awesome turn of events, he met someone (a clinical psychologist) who explained the lack of mental health care in Detroit and the need for more facilities. And, almost like that, the plan for Circle of Life,
the first behavioral hospital to open in Detroit in 30 years - was conceived. Check back tomorrow for detailed information on Circle of Life and how it is making the city of Detroit a better place.