Representative West and Senator Steve Stadelman voiced their opposition this afternoon to Mercyhealth‘s closing of it’s mental health unit. Here are Representative West's remarks to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Board:
“On March 17 of this year, 67% of Rockford residents understood how important mental health services is for our community, their loved ones, for themselves and voted to raise their taxes to fund it. The same day the state of Illinois announced it’s very first death from COVID-19. I’m pretty sure no one suspected that we today will be witness to that total being over 8000 deaths in Illinois; 147 of those deaths coming from Winnebago county. Alongside those numbers came to shut down of our schools and businesses that resulted in job loss in the millions just in Illinois.
Then you add the public killing of George Floyd, the civil unrest that followed, all while the way one worships being drastically different - mental health services is needed now more than ever. mental health services will be needed even after 2020 has come and gone due to the residual effects of our current situations. One’s mental health is just as important as their physical health, in most cases, even more important.
And that has been the case even before this pandemic happened! Statistically speaking, one out of five people know someone dealing with a mental illness – so it’s safe to say that we all know too well of the individual with the most beautiful smiles suffering from depression - or the person who appears to have it all together during the day but pondering suicidal thoughts at night.
It’s bad enough that our Medicaid patients will have to switch providers or hospitals, it’s bad enough that services are leaving the west side of Rockford to appease Mercyhealth‘s bottom dollar. Our community cannot afford for mental health to be on the chopping block at Javon Bea Hospital. You will be a huge help to a great many of people by rejecting this application.”