Alderman Cardenas Hearing on Chicago Mental Health Clinic Closures

Kathy Powers Witness Statement
August 19, 2014

Good Evening:

My name is Kathy Powers. I am here with the Northside Action for Justice, the Alliance for Community Services and me.

I am 63, the same ages as Robin William and I live with bipolar illness since I was 11. I spent years in mental institutions in four different states. Almost every day I wake up with a sense of dread and hopelessness about my life.

I used to receive excellent care at the Northtown/Rogers Park Mental Health Clinic. Due to funding cuts at the clinics and loss of psychiatric care, with no warning, referral services or support, I lost my psychiatric services and my ability go get my lithium. I went to an ER to get a prescription for lithium. I was afraid at this time that I would be committed to the hospital but I was not. I received some support therapy after discharge at the Northtown Clinic, but no medication.

After my month’s supply of lithium ran out, I became very suicidal and was hospitalized again. I still did not receive psychiatric transition services. Then the clinic closed.

At this point, I continued to search for a psychiatrist who accepted Medicare and/or Medicaid. I could not find one and I became hospitalized again. My hospital doctor did not know me, and literally discharged me from the hospital with a notice the he would not follow me after a statutory 30 days. I was referred to Community Counseling Centers of Chicago (C4) where I receive rudimentary services to this day.

Because of random acts of kindness from strangers, I receive some comfort by advocating for person living with disabilities and support self-empowerment to my peers.

  • If the city does not increase mental health services, the cuts from previous years will render mental health services increasingly inadequate.
  • The city needs to reopen the closed clinics, join a Medicare provider to increase its revenue.
  • It substantially must increase funding and staffing for mental health clinics in 2015.
  • I think the city owes all who have and continue to suffer from the clinics’ closings an official apology to the harm it has inflicted.

Thank you.

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About Kathy Powers
Advocacy is my therapy. Chicago, IL

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