Bangor City Council candidate and former Bangor Mayor Joe Baldacci met with citizens and officials opposed to the possible closure of Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center today. They are determined to ensure the center, which is one of only two state mental health hospitals, remains open to receive and treat new patients.
“The current action to refuse new patients at Dorothea Dix, which was reported on by the press on Wednesday, is potentially disastrous to the city of Bangor. Already we have hundreds of people in our homeless shelters, and in our jails, who are untreated or inadequately treated mentally ill citizens. This action, and what is likely to come next – unless people speak out – is the further downsizing of this important facility,” said Baldacci.
Joe Baldacci has taken action to align officials together in opposition to the downsizing of the state facility.
“I am writing to the city council, the city manager, and Bangor’s legislative delegation, in the hope that we can work together to oppose the center’s downsizing. We need to be a united city opposing any such action,” stated Baldacci. “In the course of the next three months alone it is likely that close to 60 mentally ill people who need treatment will be refused by Dorothea Dix because of this outrageous policy of not accepting new patients. As a result people with severe needs will probably end up on our streets, in our shelters, and tragically some in jail. This number will only grow over time.”
The cost to the state and city of not treating these citizens at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center will end up being substantially more in the long run.
“I am going to ask the city council directly on Wednesday to oppose this policy any reduction in services at Dorothea Dix, and to make sure the state knows what this action will cost Bangor in services. Law enforcement, general assistance, and other services will be called on to have to deal with the overflow of mentally ill patients into our community. The city can’t afford the extra expense,” added Baldacci.
Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center serves close to half of the state’s geographic area.
“The role of a city councilor should be about speaking out on issues affecting Bangor. This issue is of great importance to Bangor as we are a service center for all of eastern Maine, and there are no other real resources to address these critical human needs in our region,” said Baldacci.
The state working group created as part of the state’s $6.1 billion biennial budget that passed in June has been meeting since August to determine the fate of Dorothea Dix. On Friday, October 14th, at noon the group will meet at Dorothea Dix on the second floor. The meeting is an opportunity to hear from citizens regarding the downsizing of the facility.
“It’s a critical meeting where the people of Bangor can weigh in on this issue,” said Baldacci. “The people of Bangor need to have their voices heard. Once citizens make their case not to cut down the mission of the facility I’m hopeful state officials will take action and understand the importance Dorothea Dix has played, and needs to continue to play, in our community. I encourage city officials, the city manager, as well as our police chief to attend this meeting.”
Dorothea Dix used to have 100 beds, now it serves about 60 patients daily. They are considering reducing the beds to 50. Beginning in 2013, the annual state budget for the facility would be reduced by $2.5 million. An official reported that cut actually amounts to about $7 million because the state funds are used to leverage federal dollars.