Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Not a happy Thanksgiving in Mass.

Thanksgiving is looking more grim than ever if you live in Massachusetts.

The Department of Mental Health appeared poised last night to go ahead with its plan to freeze admissions to state psychiatric hospitals today in response to recent budget cuts, despite intensive meetings with Romney administration officials who want the agency to find less painful ways to reduce spending.

The department has notified private hospitals that "admissions are shut down starting tomorrow until further notice, and we haven't gotten any further notice," David Matteodo , executive director of the Massachusetts Association of Behavioral Health Systems, said yesterday.

...Mental Health Commissioner Elizabeth Childs is planning to reduce spending on hospital staffing by $1.9 million, meaning some of the 850 or so beds in the hospitals would have to be left empty. The agency also plans to cut services to the mentally ill in the community. Advocates for the mentally ill on Monday circulated an analysis estimating 170 agency jobs would have to be cut.

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