Governor Blunt says he’s anxious to hear recommendations from the Missouri Mental Health Task Force he formed to investigate mental patient abuse, even as the Mental Health Commission has released its own report. Blunt has received 23 recommendations from the State Mental Health Commission that investigated Department of Mental Health practices in wake of two deaths in the past two years at the Northwest Habilitation Center in St. Louis. Blunt says he has passed the report on to Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, co-chairman of the Missouri Mental Health Task Force. He wants the task force to integrate the commission recommendations into the report it eventually will deliver to the governor. The task force has completed its scheduled public hearings, meeting Tuesday night in Joplin. The commission based much of its report on testimony from public hearings it conducted. The Department of Mental Health has been under scrutiny since the death of mental patient Michael Pallme in November of 2005 and mental patient Rudy Wallace in March of 2006; both at the Northwest Habilitation Center in St. Louis. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also published a series of articles that investigated conditions at both state-run and private mental health facilites. The series chronicled 21 deaths and more than 2,000 incidents of abuse and neglect allegations since 2000 at hundreds of facilities that the state either runs or oversees. The governor appointed the task force in wake of the newspaper series.Blunt tells the Missourinet he’s receptive to suggestions in the commission’s report that he and the Mental Health Department keep options open for mental patients: state-run and private care. Blunt points out he has ordered some changes; rapid reporting of abuse cases to police and multiple state agency investigations of abuse and questionable deaths. The Mental Health Commission report suggests mental health has weathered tough budget years and needs more money. Blunt says he’ll consider that recommendation, because the state budget has improved, but he adds he’s hesitant to accept suggestions that improving service always relies upon more money. The Missouri Mental Health Task Force will issue a report before the end of the year.
Related web sites:
Mental Health Commission Report
Mental Health Task Force
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