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Dealing with Pat Quinn’s mess

Thursday, Aug 27, 2015

* Sun-Times

Tim McCarthy, the chief of the southwest suburban Orland Park Police Department, said he formed a 12-officer Crisis Intervention Team about a year ago and will add five officers to the team in October.

The closing of the Tinley Park Mental Health Center in 2012 by former Gov. Pat Quinn has led to a spike in emergency calls about people with mental illness, he said. In 2014, his department was involved in 160 involuntary committals of people for mental health treatment, up from only four in 2011.

“That tells me the mental health system is failing,” he said in an interview. “Sheriff Dart is calling on restoring more funding to the state budget to support mental health, and we would totally agree.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Austin Blvd - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:19 am:


  2. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:19 am:

    But, Rauner.

  3. - anon - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:23 am:

    Quinn did whatever the Trib told him to do–worked out well for him don’t you think?

  4. - Austin Blvd - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:27 am:

    When the great pundits start calling the current situation “Rauner’s Mess”? Can’t even pay the bills and logging up more.

  5. - Weltschmerz - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:28 am:

    McCarthy is wrong. Quinn re-directed the monies to community organizations that did early intervention.

  6. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:37 am:

    Do private & public insurance companies not cover the cost of treating mental illness?

  7. - siriusly - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:55 am:

    Thanks for the abstract, but I won’t click to read the whole article even though I want to. sun times website is un readable.

    The policing vs treatment statement is powerful.

  8. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 9:58 am:

    Mama: The issue of private insurance covering MI has been a subject going back to the first “insurance parity bill” (HB 0111, 89th General Assembly).

    There have been steps made but for too long, MI treatment was not a mandated coverage insurance providers had to provide.

  9. - walker - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:00 am:

    ==In 2014, his department was involved in 160 involuntary committals of people for mental health treatment, up from only four in 2011.==

    That’s quite a statistic, which needs more understanding.

    Is it that people who were formerly institutionalized long term, and are now in local community settings are being encountered by his team? Could that possibly account for all of this difference? There’s got to be more.

  10. - Amalia - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:01 am:

    yes policing vs. treatment is a powerful statement. but this, like the issue with criminals, is often a discussion of who should be locked away. community intervention on both the criminal and mental health end is not always the answer. we have become a country that thinks first of the civil liberties of the homeless, the mentally ill, and criminals and second about dangers and problem solving. while I loathe Rauner, the problem with mental health treatment in this country started down a slippery road in the 1970s. sometimes people really are a danger to themselves and others.

  11. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:09 am:

    “There have been steps made but for too long, MI treatment was not a mandated coverage insurance providers had to provide.”

    Why? That law makes no sense because MI is as treatable as many illnesses that are covered. People need to come out of the dark ages on MI.

  12. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:13 am:

    Not requiring insurance coverage for Mental Illness must mean the insurance companies are lining the politicians pockets.

  13. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:16 am:

    Mama: The fight was an intense battle between mental health providers and advocates and the groups like the Illinois Chamber and NFIB who said forcing employers and insurance providers to cover MH treatment would cost jobs and lead to employers dropping all coverage.

    At the time, the Illinois Insurance Code stated plans did not have to cover MH treatment at the same levels of other treatments.

    We have made progress, but issues like access to community level care, cutting edge medications, cuts to state MH services and involuntary treatment continue to impede many from seeking or obtaining treatment.

  14. - downstate commissioner - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:17 am:

    Believe that some insurance policies only cover 50% of mental illness treatments, and/or have a total cost cap.

  15. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:21 am:

    ==In 2014, his department was involved in 160 involuntary committals of people for mental health treatment, up from only four in 2011.==
    Considering how many people live in IL, 160 is a very small percentage of the population, but how many MI people who should have been committed, but were not - due to no treatment center to send them?

  16. - Cassandra - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:21 am:

    I thought MI treatment was one of the essential benefits under the ACA.

    I’m sure there are lots of aspiring state bureaucrats who would love to see a return to large long-term institutions for those suffering from mental illness. Lots of govt patronage associated with those behemoths, not to mention plenty of lush contracts for those who know the right pols. Not so great for the residents, of course.

  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:23 am:

    ===Considering how many people live in IL, 160 is a very small percentage of the population,===

    We’re talking Orland Park here, not the entire state.

  18. - Menard Guy - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:23 am:


    I’m assuming you’re joking? Early intervention has little to do with mental illness. McCarthy is absolutely right. Tom Dart will tell you that the Cook County jail is the nation’s largest mental health center. And involuntary committals by the police are only done when someone is threatening suicide. It has nothing to do with more officers being trained. Cause and effect is just as McCarthy says. I’m afraid the sequel to “Escape from New York” will soon be “Escape from Illinois.”

  19. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:24 am:

    If Mental Illness was wiped out with treatments, who would the NRI blame the next time there is a mass shooting?

  20. - Daniel Plainview - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:25 am:

    Nonsense. Keeping antiquated institutions open isn’t the solution for this problem, and Pat Quinn recognized that.

    More money for community based care is needed, but bring that up with those currently in office.

  21. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:29 am:

    Sorry Rich, I should have said Orland Park instead of IL. The point is, there are not enough places (including hospitals) equipped to treat the serious MI population.

  22. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:30 am:

    You are correct that antiquated institutions are not the answer for treating MI, but throwing the MI people out on the streets is not the answer either.

  23. - Truthteller - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:48 am:

    The average stay at Tinley Park was less than thirty days. Individuals were stabilized there and returned to their communities. Now they are not being stabilized, creating havoc for themselves and for their communities.
    You can thank liberals who have a bias against these facilities and right-wingers who have a bias against any government spending.Quinn does not stand alone on this policy debacle

  24. - Anyone Remember - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:49 am:

    While institutions may not be the best for most MI, Illinois does not have enough beds for those who truly need it.

  25. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 10:55 am:

    “That tells me the mental health system is failing,”

    That also tells everyone that there is NO mental health “system”.

  26. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 11:07 am:

    The Tinley Park MHC site was and is a disaster. The building is filled with asbestos, the land is littered with buried fuel tanks, and the soil has lead contamination.

  27. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 11:07 am:

    By the way, the Sun-Times story leaves out all that context around Chief McCarthy’s comments.

  28. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 11:29 am:

    On average, how many homeless mentally ill folks do you see on the streets on a daily basis where you live/work?

    Obamacare cant help these folks, and it looks like the State can’t/won’t either…

  29. - DuPage - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 11:30 am:

    Tim McCarthy is right. Same thing happened in Elgin decades ago. New medicines came out that would cure the mental illness, but only as long as they were taking it every day. The patients were given a bottle of pills, and let out the front gate. No follow up. The patients would forget to take their meds, lose the meds, or someone would steal the meds from them. Within a few days, their condition is back, and they end up homeless. They wander the streets carrying all their possessions in shopping carts. Sometimes the police would pick them up and give them a ride back to the state hospital and drop them off to get their meds. Sometimes that helped, sometimes after waiting for hours, the patients forget what they are doing and wander off. Sometimes the police try to find help elsewhere for the patients. They found a homeless man suffering from PTSD and acute alcoholism, they took them over to a VA hospital and were told “we would admit him, but we can’t because he has no address”.
    Police have a lot of other things to do and these budget cuts end up costing a lot of police time turning them into social workers of last resort.

  30. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 11:37 am:

    Without a doubt, one of Pat Quinn’s biggest mistakes.

    – MrJM

  31. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 11:40 am:

    Did they just push them out the door in Tinley Park? Was there no placement?

  32. - Tinley park facts - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:02 pm:

    Quinn closed Tinley as part of the state’s bigger deinstitutionalization movement. The place was an antiquated dump and its daily census was down to about 2 dozen patients when it closed. The state replaced that bed capacity by entering into contracts with several area hospitals to rent beds on their mental health floors. At least initially, the state was spending about the same amount on the private hospital plan as it spent on Tinley Park.

    The problem is that the mental health safety net was inadequate when Tinley was open and it still is now. Blaming the problem on the closing of Tinley is just convenient.

    A bigger problem might have been Rahm closing most of the city’s neighborhood mental health clinics. Quite a few suburbanites used those facilities. The Chicago public health folks, to their credit, didn’t turn them away.

  33. - Juice - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:05 pm:

    Thanks for posting this Rich, because it is a perfect example of what Willy has been saying for months.

    Here’s some history. In the FY ‘12 budget, Governor Quinn proposed funding the Tinley Park Mental Health center for the full year. The General Assembly, led by the House, on a bi-partisan vote, cut the appropriation specifically for Tinley Park by 50%. Quinn then announced that he was closing it, and portions of the GA and the public lost their collective minds. The administration then got money restored in FY 12 so that the facility could be closed in a more deliberate way, but there was still an understanding that it would be closed, which was part of the agreement to get those approp a restored in FY 12. But yes, this is Quinn’s mess, because as OW says, Governor’s own.

  34. - anon - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:09 pm:

    deinstitutionalization-nice word for budget cutting–this is all about Quinn’s unwillingness to pass the required revenue needed (with a democratic legislature_ to fund democratic priorities–good riddance–the guy was a complete and utter disaster–

  35. - Shawshank Red - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:19 pm:

    Is this the same gentleman who was wounded back in 1981 during the attempt on President Reagan’s life? If so, I believe he is a completely credible source about the need to bolster mental health.

  36. - stateandlake - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:30 pm:

    Yes, that’s him.

  37. - Mama - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 12:52 pm:

    The MI problems were around long before Quinn was the governor. My old brain doesn’t remember the year or the governor, but the MI deinstitutionalization movement started before Quinn.

  38. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 1:28 pm:

    ==In 2014, his department was involved in 160 involuntary committals of people for mental health treatment, up from only four in 2011.==


    Many people warned Gov Quinn this is what would occur. There is no excuse.

  39. - Tournaround Agenda - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:41 pm:

    @DuPage, there’s no such thing as a medication that just magically “cures” mental illness so long as you take it consistently. Medication can be an effective tool when coupled with therapy and other treatment, but it’s oversimplifying things to simply say taking meds will keep mentally ill people off the streets.

  40. - Jeff Park Mom - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:48 pm:

    Word - It was a short term stay mental health hospital, not a residential facility. As funding was cut - see Juice @ 12:05 - staff was laid off and beds were no longer available to people who needed care.
    Tinley Park “Facts” - Again see Juice - the low bed numbers at the end were due to funding cuts, not reduced demand. And as was predicted during earlier attempts to close Tinley, private hospitals in the area didn’t want to serve the more disturbed patients Tinley helped, even with state money. Those are the folks in jails and prisons as a result.

  41. - the q - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    I am curious about what effect the closure of Jacksonville Developmental Center had on the police in that city. Many of the individuals that lived there were transitioned into community living centers and not all were ready for that step.

  42. - Percival - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 4:32 pm:

    The thing about the mentally ill is that if we don’t deal with them one way, we will have to in another. They don’t go away.

  43. - sal-says - Thursday, Aug 27, 15 @ 6:54 pm:

    Shocking. I say, shocking. Decisions have consequences. Cuts to programs have consequences. Everybody hates taxes. Shocking, I say.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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