Thursday, March 22, 2007

So much for reform

Reporter and columnist Ruth Sheehan continues to follow the story of Phil Wiggins, a man suffering from the symptoms of schizophrenia. Wiggins' journey through the North Carolina mental health system has lasted more than 43 years and has become increasingly tumultuous since Wiggins was released from his group home and the state began its mental health reform. In her most recent column, Sheehan says:

The team of mental-health workers who have handled his case for the past year is disbanding as the county is forced to get out of the business of providing direct care to severely mentally ill patients.

With adequate care, Wiggins has shown how much he can improve in a community-based setting -- engaging in lucid conversation rather than mumbling, making wisecracks from time to time.

But in Wiggins' case, "adequate" care means nearly round-the-clock, one-on-one care.

If the community can't provide that, Wiggins is destined for a psych ward again.

So much for reform.

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