FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 12th, 2009
From City Hall to Town Hall: Aldermen come to community to hear patients and workers threatened by clinic closures
First Presbyterian Church – 6400 S. Kimbark Ave – 5:30pm – Thursday 3/12/09
NEW ANGLES ON STORY:
· First hearing in affected community about clinic closures (town hall one block from Woodlawn clinic)
· Public announcement of lawsuit regarding clinic closures being filed by union
· First public appearance by Alderman Smith after saying he is hopeful the city can reverse the closures
Alderman Ed Smith, chair of the City of Chicago’s Health Committee, will join 20th Ward Alderman Willie Cochran and 4th Ward Alderman Toni Preckwinckle as well as several other Alderman from the Health Committee will attend a Town Hall Forum at 5:45pm at the First Presbyterian Church at 6400 S. Kimbark this Thursday March 12th to listen to testimony from patients and workers outraged by the city’s attempt to close four mental health clinics, all in black and Latino communities on the south side.
The clinics slated for closure are Back of the Yards, Beverly/Morgan Park, Greater Grant/Mid-South, and Woodlawn. Not only are all four of the clinics slated for closure on the city’s already under-served south side, but the closure of Woodlawn and Greater Grand would leave the entire southeast side of Chicago without service
Consumers would be forced to travel far from their neighborhoods to the already over-crowded remaining clinics. The approximately 1,000 southeast side consumers, for example, would be re-assigned to the Englewood clinic at 63rd and Halsted, according to Commissioner Mason.
“I’ve been a client for 10 years. Closing my clinic would devastate me when I’ve come so far,” says Percy Cooper, a consumer at the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic. “A lot of people won’t be able to travel to another clinic that is far away. Where do you want us to end up, jail?”
At health committee hearings on Tuesday, advocates and patients made a convincing case that mismanagement and staff cuts are the reason for the closures, leading several Alderman questioning the fairness and necessity of the closures. While the Mayor has pointed the finger at the State for funding shortfalls, advocates insist that with the massive expenditures planned for the Olympics already underway and the recent privatization of city parking meters it is in the Mayor’s power to stop these closures while advocates and legislators work towards a more permanent solution to the chronic under-funding of mental health services.
Thursday’s town hall is being called by the Community Mental Health Board of Chicago and Southside Together Organizing for Power (STOP).