Sup. Peggy A. West
Press Release

Supervisor Peggy Romo West Says Milwaukee County Board Has Set a Path for Mental Health Redesign of Today

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has set the course for the significant expansion of mental health programming into the community and the downsizing of the residential units at Milwaukee County's Mental Health Complex, Supervisor Peggy Romo West said today.

By - Oct 9th, 2013 04:15 pm

The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has set the course for the significant expansion of mental health programming into the community and the downsizing of the residential units at Milwaukee County’s Mental Health Complex, Supervisor Peggy Romo West said today.

She listed provided a timeline of annual improvements made by the Board since 2004:

2004 $3 million added to the Behavioral Health Division budget to hire a Nurse Recruiter to assist in hiring additional, much needed medical staff and agency workers as staffing, Family Medical Leave Act and overtime were at dangerous levels.

2005 Downsizing of Hilltop Units begins and Milwaukee County partners with Our Space to develop the state’s first “Peer Specialist Program” at BHD.

2007 Milwaukee County opens the state’s first Crisis Resource Center on Milwaukee’s South Side to provide options for those individuals in crisis who are not a threat to themselves or someone else.

2008 The Board funds the HSRI Study to analyze Mental Health Service at BHD and to review best practices nationally.

2009 The Board makes a significant investment in housing for the mentally ill; forms Milwaukee County Mental Health Community Advisory Task Force; forms the Mental Health Facilities Committee to look at the current BHD facility and explore options for the future.

2010 Board forms the Milwaukee County Mental Health Redesign Task Force; Board budget amendments create an additional downsizing of Hilltop Units at BHD and provides funding for a North Side Crisis Resource Center and capital for two projects to increase safety for consumers at BHD in the Psychiatric Emergency Room; Board Chair Lee Holloway commissions an audit of safety at BHD. Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke conducts a safety audit on the physical premises at BHD and submits a report to the Milwaukee County Committee on Health and Human Needs; all but two of the Sheriff’s recommendations were implemented within three months of the report’s release.

2011 Board resolution creates two specialized units at BHD: a Women’s Treatment Unit and an Intensive Treatment Unit to address the specialized needs of BHD consumers. County Executive Chris Abele strikes Milwaukee County Emergency Medical Services program from 2012 budget to add $3 million in Community-based services; Board puts money back into the EMS program while maintaining the $3 million investment in Community-based services.

2012 Milwaukee County Mental Health Redesign develops Smart Goals for the enhancement of our community-based mental health system. The Board approves a contract with the Planning Council to protect unused funds from the County Executive’s initial investment in Mental Health.

2013 Milwaukee County Board approves the BHD’s closure plan to the state for its Acute and Hilltop Units.

“As you can see, the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors has not only been supportive of the move to a more community based model, we have lead the way in that process,” said Supervisor Peggy Romo West, chairwoman of the Health and Human Services Committee. “What might be construed as ‘resistance to change’ is actually a concern shared by many health professionals and advocacy groups that Milwaukee County is moving too quickly to transition individuals to the community before proper placements, services and day programming are created for them.”

“I applaud the County Executive and Director Colon’s commitment to our Mental Health Consumers in Milwaukee County. They are correct in saying this is absolutely a human rights issue and anyone who can safely live in our community should. While we work toward that goal together we must ensure that the safety net that Milwaukee County residents rely upon remains firmly in place”.

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