The Feb. 21 editorial “ Crisis intensifies” on the need for more psychiatric hospital beds made no mention of the loss of beds when Dorothea Dix and John Umstead hospitals were closed, and one hospital replaced two. After your paper watched from the sidelines and generally supported “mental health reform” in North Carolina in the early 2000s, you quote the chief creator of the devastating “reform,” Verla Insko, as an expert. Only The N&O’s editorial writers could present such twisted logic as fact.
There is a debate emerging about the possible return of asylums like Dix in a new and more compassionate and patient-centered form. While many cite Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s decision in the Olmstead (Georgia) lawsuit ordering treatment in the least restrictive environment as requiring elimination of state-run psychiatric facilities, that is not what Ginsburg said.
What patients need, and what the Americans with Disabilities Act requires, is that the state provide, within its means, an array of services to support patients living in the community, if that is their choice. North Carolina has refused to meet this criteria because its leaders, like most in the United States, don’t want to spend what it would take to accomplish this goal.
Martha Brock, Cary